NEC Develops CE143 SoC for Digital Still Cameras, Mobile Phones

NEC Electronics introduced new SoC product that enables camera-equipped mobile phones to provide clear and high-quality images comparable to digital still cameras (DSCs). The new product offers mobile phones to output Full-HD (1080p) video stream and still image data up to 12 Megapixels retrieved by the CMOS sensor. In addition, CE143 also incorporates proven, state-of-the-art image stabilizing and optical compensation technologies that can be found in the high-end DSCs to produce crystal-clear, well-balanced digital photos.

The market for mobile phone equipped with high-end camera has been growing rapidly around the world, from approximately 20.1 million in 2007 increasing at an annual rate of 77% to approximately 249 million in 2011. In addition, the demand for higher resolution, camera-equipped mobile phones has also been expanding. Mobile phones with camera of higher than 5 megapixels are expected to occupy 40% of the market by 2011.

In 2007, NEC Electronics commercialized CE131, which enabled the 8-Megapixel mobile phone segment with accumulated shipment exceeding 15 million units. To continue the success of CE131, CE143 pushes the envelope of providing supreme picture quality, performance, and functions for still images and video data.

Main features of CE143 are as follows:

  • Industry-leading level of 12 megapixels still image and Full HD video functions
    Utilizing know-how and experience accumulated through development for DSCs, CE143 integrates improved light signal convertor, image stabilizer, and optical compensation circuit. With the capability of processing 12-Megapixel image and supporting Full HD video, CE143 enables mobile phone developers to design products that can reproduce photos and videos with unmatched quality. The new product also integrates face detection circuits that can determine human faces at a 1/25 of the time compared to the previous product.
  • Integration of single-frame super-resolution technology
    CE143 implements NEC Electronics’ proprietary single-frame super-resolution core that reduces the graininess during the magnification process of digital zooming. This enables mobile phone camera to take clear close-up pictures and videos without optical zoom components attached.
  • Superior technical support and rich image tuning experience
    NEC Electronics collaborates with partners to share know-how on technical supports such as image tuning. Therefore, the new product provides total solution to camera-equipped mobile phone manufacturers, enabling them to take leadership for designing high-end mobile phones in a short period of time.
  • Further improved noise-reduction function
    In order to meet customers’ demands for higher image quality, CE143 offers improved noise-reduction functions, which further reduces the image noise resulting from other components of the camera in the mobile phone. As a result, the new product can improve S/N (Note) of more than 6dB compared to the previous product. This noise-reduction feature minimizes distortion caused by lenses and sensor while taking still images and video images.
  • Backward Software Compatibility
    Users of the previous generation of the Camera Engine series can maintain backward compatibility with the software that activates the camera features. This enables a smooth transition for the existing customers to reach a new height in camera performance and functionalities in mobile phones. In addition, mobile phone designers can also offer a wider range of camera features with minimal investment for software development.

NEC Electronics believes the new product to be a new milestone for the company to become a leader in offering advanced ISP. CE143 also enables mobile phone manufacturers to expand their product coverage beyond traditional mobile phone market.

Pricing and Availability
The sample prices of CE143 are U.S. $40 per unit (additional charge for technical support). Sample shipment is scheduled to begin in March 2009 and the total monthly production 1.0 million units are scheduled by April 2009. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Exhibition at MWC
NEC Electronics plans to exhibit CE143 in NEC’s booth (Hall 8, Stand 8A125) at the Mobile World Congress 2009 (MWC 2009) to be held in Barcelona, Spain from February 16-19, 2009.

About NEC Electronics
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets; system solutions for the mobile handset, PC peripheral, automotive and digital consumer markets; and multi-market solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH.