Sony today announced that Sony would invest approximately 40 billion yen into Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Kumamoto Technology Center, to increase production capacity for "Exmor" and "Exmor R" CMOS image sensors.
This investment comprises of an amount previously determined to be invested in the second half of fiscal year 2010, which was included in the forecast for the capital expenditures announced at the company's earnings announcement for the first quarter ended June 30, 2010, in addition to an amount to be invested in fiscal year 2011.
With this investment, Sony will strengthen its production capacity for image sensors to meet the expected increase in market demand.
The recent boom in smartphones is creating demand for devices with high image quality and high sensitivity capabilities. Also, the evolution of lighter and more compact Digital Still Cameras as well as improved camera functionality have resulted in an expanding customer segment who own high quality Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras. These market conditions have led to greater demand for larger image sensors and image sensors with higher image capabilities.
In order to meet these market demands, Sony currently provides two CMOS image sensor models: "Exmor" , which adopts the "Column-Parallel A/D Conversion Technique", providing each column within the sensor with its own A/D converter to reduce noise; and "Exmor R", which applies a back-illuminated structure to enhance image characteristics through high sensitivity and reduced noise.
Since 2009, Sony has been mass producing "Exmor R" for Digital Still Cameras and Digital Video Camcorders on wafer lines (with diameter of 200mm) at Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center. Furthermore, at the end of this year Sony plans to start the mass production of "Exmor R" on wafer lines (with diameter of 300mm) at Kumamoto TEC for mobile phone and compact Digital Still Camera markets.
With the investment announced today, Kumamoto TEC's CMOS image sensor production capacity will be further increased, and Sony will strengthen its ability to meet the expected market demand for "Exmor R" used in smartphones as well as a wide range of digital imaging products for consumer and professional use, including compact Digital Still Cameras. In addition, Sony will increase production capacity for mainly large sized "Exmor" used in Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras.