CMOS sensors have taken years to catch up to the popularity of CCD sensors. A new CMOS imaging sensor from ams Aims to close the gap for use in machine vision, aerial mapping, and more.

ams, an Austrian company which specializes in sensor technology with a special focus on miniaturization and low-power, recently announced the beginning of production for their CMV50000 CMOS image sensor.

The sensor was named the "Biggest Breakthrough Development" at the Image Sensors Europe Awards 2018.


The CMV50000 based Flare 48MP industrial camera. Image courtesy of IOI Industries


The CMV50000 was first announced in late 2016, promising 8k resolution at 30 fps and a 48 MP global shutter, with the expectation that the higher resolution, lower powered image sensor will become an attractive replacement for more traditional charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors.

The global shutter allows each pixel of the camera to record simultaneously, which makes the sensor suitable for recording images of fast-moving objects. This typically would be challenging for CMOS sensors without creating distortion and until now was one of the cons of using a CMOS-based image sensor. An HDR (high dynamic range) mode is also possible through odd/even row dual-exposure.

The sensor can also correct for typical CMOS noise patterns, including fixed-pattern-noise (FPN), row-pattern-noise (FPN), column-pattern-noise (CPN), and stitch-FPN, 

Expected applications of the image sensor are in industrial inspection, machine vision, document scanning, and aerial mapping/surveillance. It works well in low light conditions, capturing images of fast-moving objects, and use in high-performance applications. 


CMV50000 Specifications

  • 7920x6004 resolution (8k, with a 4k mode available)
  • 4.6 μm pixel size
  • 35mm optical format
  • global shutter type
  • 30 fps
  • subLVDS 22x830 Mbps output interface
  • Mono and RGB modes
  • 141p ceramic PGA packaging
  • Features binning, subsampling, HDR, and on-chip correcting


What’s the Difference Between CMOS and CCD?

CCD sensors were the dominating image sensor in cameras for a number of years. They provided the highest resolution images, more uniformity, and were less vulnerable to noise issues. However, CCDs require more power and more complex circuitry. Every time an image is taken, light is collected on photodiodes, the camera shutter must close, and the collected charges on the CCD image sensor are transported to be read by an analog-to-digital converter. 

Despite this, even as CMOS image sensor technology began to improve, CCDs still continued to be used more frequently since the manufacturing process was reliable and longstanding.

Eventually, CMOS sensors caught up. They require a much simpler manufacturing process that could take advantage of already existing memory and logic device fabrication facilities. They also use less power and do not require a physical shutter (although it can be used with one). Each pixel of a CMOS image sensor has its own analog-to-digital converter, which increases the overall bandwidth of the sensor. 

The electronics industry is certainly trending towards low-power components, especially because IoT and wearable devices are becoming ubiquitous. Simpler manufacturing and compact packaging is also typically a benefit, especially as we expect cameras to fit in smaller and smaller devices. The best image sensor choice, however, will still come down to your application's exact needs and how each pro/con could impact your intended application.