We received this link from the CEA this week and felt it was significant. The original article is in the Wall Street Journal.
Sony Corp. unveiled Monday its next-generation image sensors used widely in smartphones, digital cameras, medical equipment and other devices that incorporate cameras, aiming to expand its already significant share of the fast-growing market for such components.
Sony's latest complementary metal oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, image sensors pack more advanced functions into chips that are smaller and more cost-efficient than existing ones, Executive Vice President Tadashi Saito, head of the company's semiconductor business, said at a press conference.
"We are two or three steps ahead of rivals," Saito said.
According to Sony's own figures, it holds the largest share of the world's CMOS image sensor market by value at more than 30%.
The company said it expects the new CMOS image sensors, which offer better image quality with a smaller chip size, to help it capture a larger slice of the market for sensors used in smartphones, where demand is growing fastest.
A conventional CMOS image sensor has a pixel section and circuit section on a single chip, which is then fixed on top of another layer of supporting substrate.
Sony's new sensors stack the pixel section on top of the circuit section, eliminating the supporting substrate to make the whole chip smaller.
Saito said smaller sensors allow for increased production capacity without the need for more facilities, as more chips can be made from the same volume of silicon wafers.
"The new sensors will make us more cost-competitive," he said.
The company said it will start sample shipments of the new sensors in March. Products utilizing the new sensors will hit the consumer market as early as the year-end holiday shopping season.
Strength in the CMOS image sensor business is crucial for Sony, which is struggling to turn around its unprofitable television business. It forecasts a group net loss of over $1 billion for the current fiscal year ending March.