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Common Platform Technologies

The network environment is evolving at a rapid pace. Canon is working to build a platform for digital technologies organized on a component basis. By standardizing the use of these components across various products, Canon achieves faster product development and higher quality.

2018/12/27Featured Technology

System LSI Integrated Design Environment

#Electrical engineering#Computer science#Semiconductors

Efficiently Developing Large-Scale System LSIs

Canon develops its own system LSIs,* single-chip ICs that contain all the system hardware and software components necessary to run a device. Though scaled on the order of square millimeters or centimeters, these tiny chips contain extremely large systems engineered to handle important device functions. Since the 1990s, Canon has left competitors behind when it developed its DIGIC image processors and other system LSIs for various products in order to achieve product miniaturization and higher performance.

Development of system LSIs combining multiple functions requires collaboration between many engineers and an efficient design environment. Canon has developed a system LSI integrated design environment that consolidates the entire development process, from the review of specifications to physical design.

  • * System LSI
    A large-scale integrated circuit on which functions achieved using such parts as CPUs, memory and special-purpose LSIs are integrated on one chip. System LSIs speed up operations by making it unnecessary to connect the complicated wires required when using multiple chips. In addition, because little board space is required for one chip, it is possible to make both the board and product more compact.

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System LSI Integrated Design Environment

Design Environment

Canon has developed a unique design support tool to facilitate system LSI design that follows a common design flow. This GUI-based tool is easy to understand and supports communication and design work for each member of a development team, which might include several hundred people. In addition, the server farm underlying the design support tool automatically distributes computing servers with optimum specs and licenses according to the demand for such resources to enable developers to work on designing with less stress.

Configuration management automates the design-asset management process to make it possible to easily reuse design assets. Resource management is a technique for continuously monitoring the use of design environments as a means of optimizing investment. In addition, defect management makes it possible to judge the maturity of a project, provides assistance with bug analysis work, helps identify design quality problems and otherwise facilitates quality improvements and accelerated project organization.

Automatic visualization makes it possible to automatically and dynamically visualize the design and verification progress, actual man-hours and bug-analysis progress in order to reduce the progress-reporting workload imposed on designers and verifiers as well as the analysis workload imposed on project managers; making it easier to identify issues.

Circuit Design and Verification Technology

In 2005, Canon introduced high-level synthesis technology in an effort to quickly implement cutting-edge image quality enhancement algorithms on hard-wired logic. By establishing a design flow that further strengthens the advantages of this technology, Canon increased design efficiency by about three to seven times compared with the typical RTL1 circuit design method.

During system LSI development, the verification process accounts for 70 to 80% of the required man-hours. Canon applies its configuration management technology to reuse models and other verification parts as design assets in order to increase both quality and efficiency.

Canon also actively introduces cutting-edge verification technologies, including shortening the verification time by using hardware emulators,2 applying such emulators to concerted hardware/software co-verification, and improving verification-environment reusability with UVM.3

  • 1 RTL
    Register Transfer Level. A general method for describing the behavior of a logic circuit.
  • 2 Hardware emulator
    A high-speed verification computer that imitates circuit operations.
  • 3 UVM
    Universal Verification Methodology. A verification methodology developed by the standards organization Accellera.

Physical Design and Verification Technology

A single system LSI chip contains hundreds of millions of integrated elements. Physical design technology optimizes the architecture and interconnection of these elements for high-speed, precise operation at clock speeds in the hundreds-of-MHz range. By pursuing concurrent physical design--which includes power analysis and thermal analysis for handling miniaturization, performance and density advancements for LSI process technologies--starting at the initial development stage, Canon is working to improve the design quality of everything from individual system LSI chips to printed circuit boards.

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Internal view of a system LSI showing the elements interconnected through multi-layered wiring throughout the board (spacing on the nanometer level)

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A system LSI model with hundreds of millions of integrated elements for the analysis of the operation and characteristics of an entire printed circuit board

In-Process Visualization Technology

#Mechanical engineering#Computer science#Physics

Analyzing Device Operating Mechanisms

In-process visualization technology enables the direct observation (optical observation) of the processes that take place within actual devices to reveal their operating mechanisms. This technology has been useful for understanding the development and fixing processes of toner as well as the ink-ejection process in Canon products and has contributed to product design and technological innovations.
A single toner particle in a laser printer or office multifunction device (MFD) has a diameter of several µm,1 and the volume of a single ink droplet in an inkjet printer is 1 pl.2 In addition to being exceptionally small, they also move at incredibly high speeds, making it very difficult to accurately track them. Furthermore, because these phenomena occur in narrow spaces deep within the products, even simply viewing them poses a challenge. Advanced technologies that include the creation of sample devices, shooting with ultra-high-speed cameras, and image analysis are used to observe the phenomena.

  • 1 µm (micrometer):
    1 µm = one millionth of a meter
  • 2 pl (picoliter):
    1 pl = one trillionth of a liter

Visualizing the Toner Development Process

This visualizing technology is used to observe toner particles as they fly towards the photosensitive drum. Based on these observations, engineers can analyze the movement and regularity of toner flying minute distances, which enables the clarification of mechanical positioning and optimal control voltages.

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Overview of In-Process Visualization Technology for the Toner Development Process

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Visualizing the Toner Development Process
Visualizing Toner Particles as They Fly Towards the Photosensitive Drum

Visualizing the Toner-Fixing Process

By using an observation device, Canon is able to view the melting, expansion and re-hardening of toner on the fixing component. Simulations performed by incorporating mechanical data measuring temperature, pressure and displacement have contributed to the development of fixing-mechanism components and to understanding the behavior of the toner itself.

Simulation Technologies

#Mechanical engineering#Computer science#Physics

Analyzing Phenomena to Predict Product Performance

During product development, simulation technologies used to analyze phenomena and predict product performance reduce the time necessary for technological research and new product development.

Simulating the Electrophotographic Process

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Example of Transfer-Process Simulation for an office MFD

The electrophotographic process used to form images in laser printers and MFDs consists of charging, exposure, latent image processing, development, transferring, fixing and cleaning. Each of these processes, vital for forming images, entails multiple complex phenomena that until now were difficult to model mathematically.
Canon developed its own simulation technologies for these electrophotographic processes, enabling technological innovation and ensuring improved product-development efficiency.

Ultrasonic Motor (USM)

#Imaging technologies#Mechanical engineering#Physics

Canon's Ultrasonic Motor (USM) converts ultrasonic vibrations to drive components in a specific direction.

Ring USM

This USM offers high torque, high responsiveness and the ability to focus quickly. It is ideal for large-aperture lenses and super telephoto lenses.

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Nano USM

This USM achieves high performance both in terms of high-speed, high-precision AF for still images and smooth AF for videos.

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Encoders

#Industrial equipment technologies#Imaging technologies#Robotics#Mechanical engineering#Physics

Accurately Detecting Movements on a Nanometer Scale

Encoders are sensors that measure the angle of or distance traveled by an object by attaching a scale to the target object and counting the scale. Canon has developed ultra-precise, ultra-accurate encoders by using cutting-edge optical measurement technology.

Laser Rotary Encoders (LREs)

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Operating Principle of Laser Rotary Encoders

Laser rotary encoders detect angles by using diffraction1 and interference,2 employing semiconductor lasers as the light source. The use of proprietary prism optics enables the creation of more compact devices. LREs are used to adjust the angle of industrial robot arms and platforms for broadcasting cameras.

  • 1 Diffraction
    A property of light. Light travels in waves which, upon striking an object, curve around into the shadow of the object. This phenomenon is known as diffraction.
  • 2 Interference
    A property of light. Light travels in waves and becomes brighter when combined with light of the same phase. When combined with light that has a phase that differs by 180 degrees, the two will cancel each other out, resulting in darkness. This phenomenon is known as interference.

Micro Linear Encoders (MLEs)

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Overview of MLEs

Light from an LED is converted into parallel beams by using a collimator lens and then used to illuminate the scale via a diffraction grating. The diffracted light is then received via a 4-part diffraction grating to detect the position through phase differences.
Micro linear encoders, which use a unique light reflection-diffraction interferometer with LEDs as a light source, realize ultra-long life spans and an ultra-compact size. When used with a 1,000 interpolator, they achieve a maximum 0.8 nm resolution.*
MLEs are used in stage sensors in semiconductor lithography tools, hard disk inspection equipment, semiconductor measuring equipment, etc.

  • * nm (nanometer):
    1 nm = one billionth of a meter

Laser Doppler Velocimeter

#Industrial equipment technologies#Mechanical engineering#Physics

Contactless Detection of Inconsistencies in Velocity and Rotation

A laser Doppler velocimeter is a device that measures the velocity of a moving or rotating object without coming into contact with the object by illuminating it with a laser through an afocal optical system.*
Laser light is converted into parallel beams by using a collimator lens and split by using a diffraction grating. Two lights with different frequencies created by an E / O frequency shifter (an element that shifts the frequency) are used to illuminate the measured object, and the scattered light is passed through a collecting lens to be read by a photodiode. The velocity is then measured based on the beat signal (Doppler frequency) of the light obtained. The system enables the measuring of speeds from a state of rest to -200 to 10,000 mm, -300 to 15,000 mm per second. The technology is used for R&D and production lines to detect paper transport speeds and velocity irregularities in printers and MFDs, rotation irregularities in photosensitive drums, and rotation and feed inconsistencies in the drive units of machine tools.

  • * Afocal optical system
    An optical system without a focal point (infinite focal length), in which the same parallel light that enters the lens also leaves the lens. Such systems are used in telescopes and beam expanders (optical modules for expanding the beam diameter of laser light).

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Laser Doppler Velocimeter

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Overview of a Laser Doppler Velocimeter

Galvano Scanner

#Industrial equipment technologies#Imaging technologies#Mechanical engineering#Physics

Achieving Advanced Laser Processing

Laser-processing machines are devices that rotate mirrors at high speeds to determine the position of laser light to perform such processes as boring, cutting and trimming. Canon's galvano scanner,1 which utilizes proprietary encoder technology, is a high-precision laser scanner incorporated into laser processing machines. Combined with fully closed digital servo technology to provide optimal for the given application, the scanner is used to detect mirror angles. Galvano scanners provide excellent positioning precision and repetitive reproduction capability along with high-speed performance. Incorporated into devices that include laser via-hole2 drilling devices and 3D molding devices, they play an instrumental role in such applications as the processing of high-density circuit boards for mobile phones, the production of flat panel displays and the production of solar panels.

  • 1 Galvano scanner
    A scanner that applies a system employing a high-sensitivity ammeter, or galvanometer. The word galvano is derived from the name of the Italian physicist Luigi Galvani.
  • 2 Via-hole
    A hole used for connecting circuit wiring created on each substrate in multi-layered substrates.

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Galvano Scanner

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Operating Principle of a Laser Via-Hole Drilling Device Incorporating a Galvano Scanner

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