TowerJazz Wins Major Contract to Make 3-D Camera Chips for Intel

Deal to mass-produce infrared sensors boosts company’s stock.

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TowerJazz chip-fabrication plant.
TowerJazz chip-fabrication plant. Credit: TowerJazz

TowerJazz said Tuesday it had won a contract from Intel to produce infrared sensors for Intel’s 3-D cameras.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a market source who asked not to be named estimated that the agreement could be worth between $40 million and $50 million annually for the semiconductor maker, based in Migdal Ha’emek, over the next four years.

The 3-D cameras, developed as part of Intel’s Real Sense technology installed on laptops, recognize gestures, enabling users to control their computers with hand and head movements.

The technology was developed by Intel’s Israeli subsidiary close to TowerJazz’s Fab manufacturing plant in northern Israel, which will be making the chips. The plant has already produced about a million of them and will now begin commercial production on a mass scale, TowerJazz said.

Avi Strum, general manager of TowerJazz’s CMOS image sensor business, said the technology has many potential uses – for example, enabling cooks or car mechanics to operate a computer with gestures rather than having to touch it with dirty hands.

The camera can also capture images of an object and quickly create a model for use in 3-D printing.

“Intel-sensing solutions will bring consumers new experiences and will change the way people capture and share 3-D images,” Strum said. “That Intel chose us for mass production of such sensors is very positive.”

While gesture control is most common in laptops or gaming systems, it is expected to become more widely used in mobile devices such as smartphones.

TowerJazz shares closed up 6.4% at 70.82 shekels ($17.80) Tuesday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, in unusually heavy trading of 115 million shekels. Shares in Kenon Holdings, which controls about a third of TowerJazz, ended 5.6% higher for the day at 74.92 shekels.

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