As most of you probably know, I have the honor of being the Chair of the International Technical Program Committee (ITPC) of the upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). This will take place next February in San Francisco. Every year, this conference attracts several thousand attendees and the conference can be seen as “The Olympics” of the integrated circuit community. Being the ITPC chair I had the luxury of choosing the conference theme, and I chose “Sensing the Future”. Closer to my heart would have been “Imaging the Future”, but of course, ISSCC is about (much) more than image sensors. Nevertheless, “Sensing the Future” highlights the fact that sensors have become a very important part of the integrated circuit business and will play an increasing role in future electronic applications.
The major part of the conference will be the presentation of 200+ technical papers. The final paper selection will be done in a few weeks from now, but all the other technical and scientific activities taking place at the ISSCC2010 are already planned.
It is then interesting to see how, where and when image sensors have found their place in these activities :
- The conference itself will start on Monday morning with a plenary session. One of the four plenary speaker will be Tomoyuki Suzuki, vice-president of Sony Corp. The title of his talk will be: “Challenges of Image Sensor Development”. I think it has been 10 years since ISSCC had a plenary talk on imagers. If I remember well, the last one was Bryan Ackland of Bell Labs talking about CMOS imagers. Suzuki’s abstract indicates that he will give a historical overview of milestones in the development of image sensors reached by his company. Keep in mind that Sony was the largest image sensor supplier in the CCD era. But he will also address the new challenges ahead of us, such as back-side illumination, 3D imaging (depth sensing), as well as 3D integration for image sensors.
- In total, 6 forums are planned during ISSCC2010. Over the last 5 years, a forum on image sensors has been organized every year. Topics like image sensor evaluation, color imaging, noise in image sensors, wide-dynamic range and medical imaging have been covered in the past.
The day after the technical paper presentations, there will again be a one-day forum on High-Speed Image Sensor Technologies. The organization of this forum is in the hands of Johannes Solhusvik who was also the technical program chair of the 2009 International Image Sensor Workshop.
The exact agenda of the forum is not yet fixed, so it is too early to announce the various speakers and their subjects, but I can tell you that 8 or 9 world-experts have been invited to give presentations about the state-of-the-art and recent developments in the field of high-speed image capturing. Topics dealing with sensor architectures, low noise options, 3D imaging, robotics and high-speed interfacing will also be addressed. The technical content of a forum is the highest educational level one can attend at ISSCC, so the image sensor forum is absolutely something to look forward to!
Besides the forum on image sensors, an interesting talk (from ST Microelectronics) about TSV technology for camera modules will be part of the forum on 3D integration.
- Evening sessions : there will be no specific session devoted to image sensors, but sensors in general can be found in several evening sessions,
- Short course on CMOS PLL. Not specifically image sensor related, but PLLs are very important building blocks for all kind of systems-on-chip, so for imaging systems as well.
- Tutorials : at ISSCC 9 tutorials will be presented and they cover various topics all related to integrated circuits. One of the tutorials will be given by Kofi Makinwa and he will talk about the “Design of Smart Sensors”. This is already the third tutorial delivered by Kofi, and as far as I recall this has never happened before at ISSCC. Kofi is a great speaker and teacher, and that is of course the reason why he has again been invited to talk about sensors in general.
The organizational structure of the educational events of this year’s ISSCC has changed. We have tried to incorporate more cross-functional topics in the program compared to previous conferences, and this is clearly reflected in the various activities planned for Sunday, Thursday and the evenings. In relation to the conference theme “Sensing the Future”, you can be sure that sensors will feature in all these activities, as will image sensors. I am absolutely looking forward to it all, and I really must congratulate my colleagues for putting together all these great educational events. The next step will be the compilation of an appealing program for the regular conference as well, and that will be done in a few weeks from now.