Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sony Announces HD CMOS Sensors, Promises Stacked Products Soon

Sony Cx-News vol. 68 has few image sensor announcements.

IMX104LQJ CMOS image sensor for industrial applications has 1.37MP resolution and 3.75um pixels. Its frame rate is 120fps at 10b ADC resolution or 60fps at 12b resolution. The sensor is said to provide 12dB higher SNR than existing Sony products. Its low light sensitivity is better, in comparison with IMX035LQR
with slightly smaller 3.63um pixels:

Low-light Picture Quality (in all-pixel scan and 12-bit A/D conversion
mode, 30fps, 0.1 lx, 42dB with built-in PGA +12dB in rear end, at F2.0)

IMX136LQJ (color) and the IMX136LLJ (black and white) industrial CMOS image sensors feature that same 120fps/10b and 60fps/12b speed but at 2.38MP resolution. The pixel size is 2.8um to maintain almost the same 1/3-inch optical format. They also support the multiple frame HDR mode. In this mode, separate
exposure time and gain can be set in advance for 4 or 2 consecutive frames and sets of 4 or 2 frames can be set as a shooting condition to automatically output consecutive images:

Sony also talks more about its image sensor stacking technology: "Sony's Stacked CMOS Image Sensor Solves All Existing Problems in One Stroke".

"Digital still cameras mainly use Type 1/2.3 CMOS image sensors. If the 45 nm process rule can be used for the circuit section, it will become possible to implement signal processing circuits that equal the DSPs used in high-end digital still cameras. And even the 65 nm rule will make possible signal processing for middle class digital still cameras.

Type 1/3.2 image sensor processed according to the 65 nm rule could be incorporated in a surveillance camera. And if the 45 nm rule were used, it would enable integration of a signal processing circuit large enough for middle class digital still cameras.

Secondly, how can the surface area be reduced by completely separating the pixel section from the circuit section?

Sony's Type 1/4 CMOS image sensors can then be reduced by 30% and SoC CMOS image sensors for mobile phones with camera signal processing capability can be reduced by 40%. Although CMOS sensors are generally thought to be larger than CCD image sensors, stacked CMOS image sensors do not need any registers and can therefore be 20% smaller. The configuration of the sensor makes it ideal for use in medical cameras and other industrial applications.

Stacked image sensor products with RGB-W CFA and HDR functions are planned for shipment:

  • Type 1/3.06 stacked CMOS image sensor with approx. 13.0M effective pixels
    Sample shipments planned for June, 2012
  • Type 1/4 stacked CMOS image sensor with approx. 8.0M effective pixels
    Sample shipments planned for August, 2012

The stacked CMOS image sensor with RGB-W and HDR functions do not require to change the signal processing of the in system, meaning the stacked processor translates output signals to some standard format.


  1. I've been trying to get concrete evidence of this thing for months, for my work project. It took me forever just to find someone who knew what it was, even when I point press releases at them. They haven't released a datasheet or any concrete evidence that it will be available anytime soon. In the end, if you're not Apple Inc. they won't talk to you about this product.

    1. Actually, I was slightly mistaken as I was trying to get info on the IMX036LQR. Which this device is based on?

    2. I was also looking for info on the IMX071 and IMX096 (the APS-C sensors in the Sony NEX-5N and NEX-7), and could find absolutely nothing coming directly from Sony. But I hoped you could get all the info you want if you contact them and sign all the NDAs and such...

    3. I tried desperately to go down the route of signing an NDA/etc and eventually got a representative in Europe after being given the run-around (I am from America). They kept saying they would get back to me, but in the end they decided they just wouldn't release the information unless we could promise to buy hundreds of thousands of units.

    4. Crap. That's not good news.

    5. Don't feel bad. Sony treats everyone this way. Try to buy a few sensors (up to a thousand, anyway) with any part number, even simple NTSC sensors, even with payment in advance. It is easier to get Sony sensors by ordering from Framos or Eureca in Europe than to get them in the US. I have talked to the people (no names for the blog) in the Sony L.A. office several times and they have no interest whatsoever in providing any service. At one time, they had a distributor in San Jose who could get the devices but even that is gone now. Great business model.


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