Nethra Imaging Debuts 3.2-Megapixel Image Processor with JPEG Encoder

Nethra Imaging has announced its second generation smart camera chips, now available in the industry’s smallest package for low power, handheld consumer devices. The NI-2065/66 programmable image processor family can be integrated into camera module designs and handsets, providing consumers with “print quality” images from less expensive optics and digital still camera-like functionality from their mobile devices.

The NI-2065/66 family is currently in production and includes a JPEG encoder for enhanced compression capabilities leading to high frame rate captures, hence reducing blur and storage time. Built on a 0.13-micron process and boasting low power, the NI-2065/66 image processors fit into a 5mm x 6mm package. This allows camera module designers to achieve form factors as small as 8.5mm x 8.5mm, making them optimal for the smallest consumer devices. Use of the NI-2065/66 allows OEMs to develop smart camera modules faster than with alternative solutions, expediting time-to-market. Sophisticated true-color processing allows picture calibrating/ tuning to meet regional taste, while support for multiple sensors helps simplify the OEM’s supply chain.

“Small form factor and low power are key requirements for handheld devices,” said Tony Henning, editor of the Mobile Imaging Report from Future Image, “But with those constraints, delivering the print quality images and digital camera-like features consumers demand presents a challenge. Nethra’s second-generation image processors meet that challenge.”

“As the infrastructure matures for 3-megapixel cell-phone cameras, video will become a requirement as will features such as image analysis and recognition,” said Pulin Desai, Nethra’s vice president of product marketing. “Our second generation image processor family uses advanced image algorithms that will allow handset designers to deliver digital still camera image quality along with today’s most in-demand features for mobile devices.”

Second generation imaging pipeline optimized for small-pixel sensors
The core architecture of the NI-2065/66 is based on Nethra’s second generation highly scalable real-time image processing pipeline that allows OEMs to develop a platform relevant to various imaging applications. The second generation imaging pipeline has been optimized to work with small-pixel size sensors, achieving print-level image quality even with pixels as small as 1.75 microns.

High pixel clock achieves highest frame rate for video and still capture
The imaging pipeline has been designed to work at 75 megapixels/sec giving up to 20 frames per second (fps) throughput at 3.2 megapixel still capture (sensor dependent), and greater than 30 fps at 1280x720P HD resolution video capture. The JPEG encoder enables the NI-2065/66 to work with baseband, multimedia and applications processors that have camera ports running at slower speed.

Advanced features enhance user experience
As part of the total solution, Nethra has incorporated a number of digital still camera-like features in the firmware to enhance the consumer’s experience. These include image stabilization mode to reduce image blur, NightMode to extract details in low light, continuously variable frame rate, 30 fps preview, fast auto focus time, and Sportsmode to reduce object motion blur. The NI-2065/66 also includes an AdaptiveEye(TM) feature that provides shadow enhancement to bring out the details in low intensity, high intensity and backlit environments. A front end scaler provides a special preview mode that allows the sensor to stay in the full resolution mode, thus resulting in better image quality and saving power in the preview mode. In addition, Nethra’s flexible programmability features allow for IQ tuning and modifications to meet customers’ unique requirements.

Development kit
The NI-2065/66 is available to customers with full development tool support, including both hardware and software. The kit includes Nethra’s ISP EnVision(TM) development platform, the Nethra Imaging Camera Control (NICAM) proprietary PC application, and all necessary documents and support. NICAM is developed for customers to calibrate their system to achieve high image quality when using the NI-2065/66 with various sensors.

Product availability and pricing
The NI-2065/66 products currently are shipping in volume. The NI-2065/66 is available in a choice of the 5mm x 6mm, 68-pin package or a 7mm x 7mm, 84-pin package. Contact Nethra for pricing information.

Nethra plans to attend the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference scheduled for Nov. 8-9, and demonstrate its NI-2065/66 image processors at the event’s Tech Fair. The company plans to demonstrate its 3.2-megapixel image processors implemented in smart phone applications and the ability to produce print-quality images from handheld devices in various lighting conditions.

About Nethra
Nethra Imaging is a privately held semiconductor company focused on delivering imaging solutions for a wide range of digital consumer applications. The company uses proprietary algorithms to build flexible, fully programmable image processor chips for mobile imaging and PC video capture applications. Located in Cupertino, Calif., Nethra is venture-backed and entered the market in 2005 with a family of image processors for the rapidly growing mobile handset camera market.

Nethra Imaging(TM) and the Nethra logo are trademarks of Nethra Imaging Inc.