Saturday, September 03, 2011

Sony Image Sensor Business Presentation

Sony published a set of Image Sensor Business presentations from Semiconductor Business Meeting on Aug 30, 2011:

Part 1 by President of Semiconductor Business Group, Deputy President of Professional, EVP, Corporate Executive Tadashi Saito

Part 2 by Senior GM of Image Sensor Business Division, Semiconductor Business Group, SVP, Corporate Executive Yasuhiro Ueda

A total 32 slides cover a lot of material. Below is a subset reflecting the company views, priorities and aims on the image sensor market:

The presentations start with a bold statement:

Sony view on image sensor market, both by units and by value:

Sony market share on various markets, according to the company:

And now about Sony key competitive technologies:

"Super Reality" becomes a keyword:

More slides talk about "Super Reality" extended DR and blurring the background (ommited). Sony RGB-W color filter provides better video and stills quality than competitors:

Sony defends resolution advance due to smaller pixel size:

Sony production base gets stronger (end of FY2011 is March 30, 2012). Interesting side note is that a good part of Sony sensors is in fact manufactured by third parties:

And the market forecast: Sony predicts that 12MP+ sensors will take the center stage in camera phones in 2015:


  1. Our favorite family camera right now is the Sony HX9V with the 16.2 Mpix BSI sensor. Between the sensor and the camera, it takes some very high quality images in a compact size. Personally, I am impressed with Sony's CMOS APS sensor progress over the past few years, although I think Exmor is a silly brand name. SuperReal, on the other hand, is kind of catchy.

  2. Are they comparing their RGBW to Bayer when they say 2.4db SN and 32% more resolution?

    Also why is it only 32% better resolution for video and not better SN ratio as well?

    Is there any sacrifice in color fidelity relative to Bayer?

    Finally, shouldn't the picture coming from this filter be much brighter than Bayer -- is that reflected in the 2.4db SN number? I am not an image scientist so please go easy on me.

  3. The color filter idea is very interesting.

    I’m no expert but I always thought that image sensors will have to move away from Bayer filters for the next jump in image quality.

    The filter proposed by Sony has a 3x3 elementary cell vs 2x2 for Bayer.
    I don’t think it’s possible to correctly interpolate the colors of all 9 pixel in this 3x3 cell, where 5 of the pixels are white.
    Most likely Sony’s algorithm interpolates& downsizes the image at the same time.
    So, from a 3x3=9 cell of physical pixels, 2x2=4 image pixels will be produced.

    With this filter, a sensor with 54MP physical pixels will be needed to produce a 24MP still image or 4K video.
    Each of these pixels will be smaller that the pixels of a 24MP sensor.
    However, the ‘redundant’ white pixels and the 9->4 downsizing will improve the SNR for stills and the resolution for video (due to better pixel mapping).

    It seems to me that the main motivation for this filter is high-quality 4K video, where the extra white pixels eliminate the nasty color artifacts produced by Bayer sensors.

  4. Correction to my previous post:

    If my supposition is correct, "only" 18MP will be needed for quality 4K video (8MP).

    The filter might be an overkill for stills, considering the minor SNR improvement.

  5. Only Sony can answer on these questions with confidence.

    I'd guess that +32% resolution and +2.4dB SNR relate to some specific sensor that oversamples the HD video for higher resolution, and RGB-W filter improves low-light SNR as compared with Bayer.

    I think that the RGB-W is processed on-chip into a standard Bayer output, so that any regular ISP can take it from there, another advantage that Sony states.

  6. Do they have or plan mono Exmor R sensors? Small and fast or APS-C like? Or only color and very small pixels? ;)

  7. Hehe, it seems that my supposition was correct after all.
    See comments #3 and #4 above.

    Sony just announced a new $65K pro video cam with a 20mp sensor for 4K video (8mp):

    From the press release:
    "Its unique 8K image sensor, with approximately 20 total megapixels, offers higher image fidelity than any other digital cinema production camera. "

  8. Sony news you refer to is just a production start of the previously announced F65-based CineAlta camera:


All comments are moderated to avoid spam and personal attacks.