Sony invests close to $1 billion in the production of "stacked" smartphone camera sensors
Sony apparently has big plans for its newfangled CMOS cameras that "stack" the circuitry and the sensor on top on one another instead of side by side, saving space, which is a precious commodity in smartphones.
Moreover, these sensors allow you to shoot HDR video on the fly, and the first one found its place in the 13MP Sony Xperia GX, which is bound to hit Japan next month.
Apple, Samsung and, of course, Sony, are using the company's sensors in their smartphones, so it will be interesting to see whether the "stacked" tech will make its way into the new iPhone 5 that is bound to arrive in the fall.
It might not be accidental that the Japanese are investing $994 million to expand plant production to 60, 000 wafers a month for making many of those stacked camera sensors.
- Increasing total production capacity for image sensors to approximately 60,000 wafers per month to supply image sensors mainly for smartphones -
June 22, 2012, Tokyo, Japan – Sony Corporation ("Sony") today announced that it plans to invest in Sony Semiconductor Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center ("Nagasaki TEC") from the first half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 through the first half of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, to increase the production capacity for stacked CMOS image sensors.*1
This investment is intended to provide for new wafer processing equipment for stacked CMOS image sensors, and to increase and transform wafer lines capable of manufacturing CMOS image sensors.
With this development, Sony plans to increase total production capacity for CCD and CMOS image sensors to approximately 60,000 wafers per month by the end of September 2013.*2
In light of the rapidly expanding demand for smartphones and tablets, Sony plans to continue to solidify its leading global position in CMOS image sensors by strengthening its production capabilities for stacked CMOS image sensors, which provide greater performance in a more compact form. Furthermore, Sony intends to accelerate its growth strategy by incorporating superior core technologies, including stacked CMOS image sensors, into a wide range of products for its digital imaging and mobile businesses, which are priorities within its electronics business.
The investment amount is approximately 80 billion yen, of which, the amount to be invested in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 (approximately 45 billion yen) was included in the forecast of the capital expenditures for semiconductors in the current fiscal year announced at the annual earnings release on May 10, 2012. In addition, Sony will utilize a governmental subsidy in its investment plan which will be provided by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan, through the "Subsidy for Domestic Location Promotion Projects" program.