Sony Semiconductor also plans to reorganize and optimize its production sites as it accelerates the shifting of resources to the image sensor business.
This investment is intended primarily to augment production facilities used in the mastering and layering processes for stacked CMOS image sensors, specifically at Sony Semiconductor's Nagasaki Technology Center, Yamagata Technology Center, and Kumamoto Technology Center.
The mastering process refers to the manufacture of photodiodes and wiring processes for stacked CMOS image sensors. The layering process refers to the layering of semiconductor chips containing back-illuminated structure pixels on top of semiconductor chips containing the circuit for signal processing.
With this investment, Sony plans to increase total production capacity for image sensors from its current level of approximately 60,000 wafers per month to approximately 80,000 wafers per month by the end of June, 2016. Previously, as a mid to long range target, Sony had aimed to raise its total production capacity for image sensors to approximately 75,000 wafers per month. To facilitate this increased production, Sony has continued to augment production facilities at each site, and it established Yamagata TEC in March 2014.
The total investment amount is projected to be approximately 105 billion yen.
Stacked CMOS image sensors deliver superior image quality and advanced functionality in a compact size. Demand for these image sensors is anticipated to further increase, particularly within the expanding market for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
By the end of March 2016, Sony will also discontinue operations at Sony Semiconductor Oita Technology Center, which is a base for the development and production of high-density semiconductors such as LSIs. Oita TEC began in 1984 as a production site for memory packaging, but in recent years its primary focus has shifted to the development and production of advanced packaging for LSIs used in game consoles. Oita TEC's approximately 220 employees are scheduled to be transferred to other sites engaged in the production of image sensors or to other Sony Semiconductor sites that will take over some of the operations of Oita TEC.