Sony invests close to $1 billion in the production of "stacked" smartphone camera sensors

Sony invests close to $1 billion in the production of
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.

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23 Comments

1. mercorp

Posts: 1045; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

So nokia likely invested $100 billion for their pureview.

3. tahnik

Posts: 201; Member since: Jul 17, 2011

Adding more and more megapixel doesn't mean it changing the picture revolutionary...Everything depends on sensor...That's why Apple and Samsung uses Sony camera sensors....

13. pegasso

Posts: 285; Member since: Nov 27, 2011

yup, more megapixel doesn't mean it changing the picture revolutionary, but Nokia Pureview has 1/1.2" sensor. and that really means something.

8. AnukulVcool unregistered

lol! nokia itself is worth 25 billion

10. SleepingOz unregistered

HAHAHAHA!

19. the_matchless

Posts: 64; Member since: Apr 01, 2012

Lolzzzz

2. CharlieAtInfinity

Posts: 253; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

wow nice, i would like to see full 13 Mega pixel size photo comparison :) hopefully Sony will provide the full size pictures soon :)

4. borganwa

Posts: 5; Member since: Jun 22, 2012

I wonder why Sony didn't use their best camera sensor to all of their XPERIA phones. XPERIA ray, neo V, mini/pro/live/active, U, sola cameras quality are still behind iPhone 4S (which sensor was also made by Sony)

14. pegasso

Posts: 285; Member since: Nov 27, 2011

Sony Mobile Communications AB is a separate company. if they decided to use Sony camera sensor, then they must bought the sensor from Sony Corporation (ソニー株式会社). and knowing their current financial condition, i don't think Sony Mobile has the money to bought the best camera sensor available.

17. groupsacc

Posts: 232; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Umm.. separate company but under the same conglomerate right?

20. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

There was a quake in Japan that destroyed a lot of lenses. The original Xperia Arc and Xperia Neo used to have the same sensors, but after the quake they had a shortage of the 8MP sensors. Sony Ericsson was forced to change the sensor of the Neo, hence the birth of the Neo V which is exactly a Neo but with a 5MP sensor. Also, about the other xperia devices not getting the top-end sensor, it's because they needed variety. Just like how other manufacturers have top-end phones with better sensors than their low-end ones.

5. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1253; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

What happened to that sensor that could keep everything that was in in view in focus? That was cool and definitely worth the money.

6. rnk.khch

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Do they want t compete with Nokia's PureView?! No chance!!!

11. SleepingOz unregistered

Really?

21. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

if you know better, like the way you SOUNDED, you should know that more megapixels doesn't mean better image quality.. that's called the Megapixel Myth, just so you know in case you are still behind us..

23. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Yep, higher megapixels does not mean better image quality. But have you seen the 8MP pics captured on the pureview mode? Blows any other smartphone out of the wate.... no earth! Even holds it's ground against dedicated cameras. http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_808_pureview_low_light-review-775.php

7. whothisperson

Posts: 102; Member since: May 06, 2012

Very nice, I like. It's going to be a war like back in the days when Sony and Nokia had the BEST cameraphones in the world. I.e. Sony Ericsson K lines (k800, k850, etc.) and Nokia N lines (N50, N80, etc.)

9. AnukulVcool unregistered

not just samsung and apple, even nikon buys sensors from sony

12. osanilevich

Posts: 287; Member since: Sep 29, 2009

Honestly if there is one manufacturer who can break into this apple vs Samsung thing we got going on its Sony. Always got great build quality and cameras now they just gotta get up to date processors and such and maybe tweak their proprietary UI a bit. Also, japan isn't the only country in earth, a few more international releases of high end devices can't hurt

15. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Yep pureview is awesome. But too pricey. Sony sensors are among the best (if not the best and excluding the pureview) among mobile phones in the 8mp category so continuously improving on it is of course a good idea. Besides, I want the good camera in a droid!!!! :p Even the original X10 takes killer pics and vids.

16. mercorp

Posts: 1045; Member since: Jan 28, 2012

sorry for my bad comment.

18. groupsacc

Posts: 232; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Sony spends $1bil in research. Meanwhile, in Cupertino......

22. bayusuputra

Posts: 963; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

I remember that SIGMA has done this Foveon sensor, where they stack up the pixels instead of using the conventional Bayern pattern.. and indeed, the image looks more fantastic, since one color-subpixel gets the area of the whole sensor, and not just a third of it.. it improves the noise handling capability of the sensor, too.. maybe it's the dawn of the era when smartphones will finally replace PnS..

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