Toshiba Announces New 20-Megapixel BSI CMOS Image Sensor

By Alexandra Burlacu email: | Dec 28, 2012 07:08 PM EST

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Toshiba Corp. has announced its new 20-megapixel CMOS image sensor, the TCM5115CL, the latest addition to the company's sensor lineup for digital still cameras.

With smartphones increasingly butting in on compact cameras' turf, it makes sense for Toshiba to up the resolution of its sensors in order to stay relevant and competitive. The new TCM5115CL is a 1/2.3-inch, backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor, and at 20 megapixels, it marks a significant jump from the 16-megapixel sensors found in many point-and-shoot cameras and some smartphones.

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According to the company, the new TCM5115CL boasts the industry's highest resolution in the 1/2.3-inch optical format, while using BSI technology to improve sensitivity and imaging performance.

The resolution offered by compact digital cameras, now in the range of 10- to 16-megapixels, has seen continued advances over time. At the same time, these advances posed a new challenge: improving performance and picture quality with smaller pixels.

Toshiba's new TCM5115CL can achieve a 15 percent improvement in full well capacity, i.e. the amount of charge that an individual pixel can hold before reaching saturation, compared to the company's previous generation 16-megapixel sensor. The electronics giant is now using pixels that can absorb 15 percent more of a charge, therefore more light, in order to combat the noise and sensitivity issues typically associated with a denser design.

The TXM5115CL is designed to meet the demands of high-quality, fast frame rate image shooting and HD video recording, with the potential for 1080p video at 60 frames per second (FPS) and 30FPS burst shooting at full resolution. The sensor can support smooth, slow-motion playback, and deliver 60 FPS at 1080p and 100 FPS at 720p.

"CMOS image sensors are the main product of Toshiba's Analog and Imaging System business. The addition of the TCM5115CL to its CMOS sensor line-up for digital cameras will reinforce the business and support the company in securing its target of a 15% market share in 2015," reads the press release.

While it all sounds intriguing, don't expect a revolution among dedicated cameras anytime soon. The company will start sampling the new sensor at the end of January 2013, and mass production will not start until August 2013, which means it will take a while until the 20-megapixel shooters actually hit the market.

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