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Sony ramps up capacity for digicam image sensors

Posted: 15 Sep 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS? image sensor? digital single reflex camera?

Sony Corp. announced that it would invest about 40 billion yen into Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp.'s Kumamoto Technology Center to step up production capacity for Exmor and Exmor R CMOS image sensors.

This investment includes of an amount previously determined to be invested in the second half of fiscal year 2010, in addition to an amount to be invested in fiscal year 2011.

The recent positive market turn-out of smart phones has been increasing the demand for devices with high image quality and high sensitivity capabilities. Likewise, the evolution to lighter, more compact digital still cameras (DSCs) as well as improved camera functionality has resulted in an expanding customer segment owning high quality digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. These market trends have led to greater demand for larger image sensors and image sensors with higher image capabilities.

To meet these market demands, Sony now offers two CMOS image sensor models: Exmor (adopting the "Column-Parallel A/D Conversion Technique) which provides each column within the sensor with its own A/D converter to reduce noise; and Exmor R which utilizes a back-illuminated structure to enhance image characteristics through high sensitivity and reduced noise.

Sony has been mass producing Exmor R for DSCs and digital video camcorders on wafer lines (with diameter of 200mm) at Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center since 2009. Moreover, towards the end of 2010, Sony intends to start the mass production of Exmor R on wafer lines (with diameter of 300mm) at Kumamoto TEC for mobile phone and compact Digital Still Camera markets.

With the investment formally announced, Kumamoto TEC's CMOS image sensor production capacity will be increased significantly. Sony will boost its ability to address the expected market demand for Exmor R used in smart phones, as well as in a wide range of digital imaging products for consumer and professional use, which includes compact DSCs. Meanwhile, it will also increase production capacity primarily for large-sized Exmor used in DSLR cameras.

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