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Mark Peters : December 15th 2005 - 15:44 CET

Image pipe for camera phones

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AgilentImage pipe processor for camera phones : Agilent Technologies Inc. announced an innovative image pipe processor that allows mobile phone and computing devices to take lifelike, rich color photos in all lighting conditions. The image pipe is integrated in Agilent's new family of system-on-chip (SOC) sensors, which feature the enhanced-performance pixel architecture. What sets Agilent's image pipe apart from existing image signal processors (ISPs) is the degree of built-in processing intelligence and adaptability to lighting conditions, which results in exceptional image quality. The image pipe accommodates a wide range of lighting conditions, from indoor to sunlight to fluorescent, and can enhance overexposed or underexposed images.
Image pipe for camera phonesImage pipe - Pixel architecture
The Agilent image pipe contains more than 10 new design enhancements, including proprietary Agilent innovations such as automatic illuminant detection and highly advanced exposure control, pixel correction and contrast control. The image pipe is also specifically tuned to Agilent's enhanced performance (EP) pixel architecture, and is part of the company's EP-based SOC product line. The EP pixel architecture reduces dark current and noise, provides unmatched low image lag and removes the lens shading effect to offer breakthrough low-light CMOS sensor performance. Agilent's EP sensor matches CCD sensor results by producing bright, high-quality images in extremely low-light conditions.

Agilent image pipe processor
"Image pipe processors make the raw sensor picture pleasing to the human eye," said Feisal Mosleh, director of Mobile Imaging Marketing in Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group. "This is achieved in digital still cameras by invoking a host of auto functions, such as exposure control and auto white balance. These same functions are not generally as advanced in camera phone ISPs. Agilent's image pipe raises the bar with a streamlined, low-power ISP designed to produce sharper, more vivid images than past camera phones and rivals those from good digital still cameras. Until now, no camera phone ISP has been able to behave so much like its bigger sibling, the digital still camera ISP."

Image sensor chips - Higher picture quality
Unlike many third-party graphics processors, Agilent's image pipe is tightly coupled with the CMOS sensor, resulting in better colors, higher contrast, truer skin tones, and picture rendering that is highly adaptive to varying lighting, shadows and movement. "We believe the market will increasingly demand higher picture quality," said Chris Crotty, senior analyst, consumer electronics, with iSuppli Corp. "By working on enhancing the picture quality of its image sensor/processor chips, Agilent is addressing an important industry trend."

Advanced camera phone ISP design
The Agilent image pipe is the industry's most advanced camera phone ISP design in terms of perceptual image quality. It can be delivered with seventh-generation JPEG compression and enables visually pleasing prints in a 4" x 6" format. The image pipe will be included in Agilent's new EP megapixel and multi-mega-pixel SOC sensors in the first half of 2006.

Agilent image pipe features
The image pipe includes a special effects generator, advanced exposure control, true color image processing and enhanced automatic pixel correction. It also offers these key features:

• Plausible illuminant (adapts to the ambient light), an automatic illuminant detector that improves auto white balance for true color accuracy.
• Adaptive tone mapping that provides dynamic range expansion to deliver better contrast and richer, more vivid colors.
• Advanced exposure control that offers flexible exposure settings (vs. conventional auto exposure) to produce brighter non-flash images.
• Enhanced automatic pixel correction that is 5X better than conventional bad pixel amelioration.
• Adaptive compression that ensures the best-quality JPEG compression with no dropped frames.
• Programmable dual LED and Xenon flash strobe support.
• Locally adaptive color noise suppression.
• Smooth digital zoom to emulate an optical zoom movement.
• Special-effects generator with "blue people," black and white, sepia, solarization and 20 other special effects.
• Anti-vignetting correction for lens shading effects.
• Picture sharpening and auto-flicker correction.

Agilent's Mobile Appliance Solutions
Agilent is a leading supplier of semiconductor solutions for today's highly integrated, feature-rich mobile handsets. In addition to CMOS image sensors and processors that enable camera phones, notebooks and mobile cams, Agilent provides FBAR filters and E-pHEMT and HBT power amplifiers that save battery life and help shrink handset size, infrared transceivers for transmitting data, surface-mount LEDs that provide backlighting styling options, proximity sensors that automate the speakerphone, and ambient light photo sensors that save battery life by controlling backlighting. No other component vendor offers all of these solutions for mobile appliances.

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. is the world's premier measurement company and a technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 27,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $5.1 billion in fiscal 2005.

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