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CMOS image sensors expected to grow at an 11% CAGR in revenue from 2012 to 2017

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By eeNews Europe

Many different applications are driving the integration of CMOS image sensors. If mobile handsets accounted for about 65% of total shipments in 2011, many new applications are poised to drive the future growth of this industry. Three fast emerging applications of significant size should drive the growth of the market to an expected CAGR over 30%: Tablets, Automotive, and Smart TV.

Tablets are poised to boost CIS sales in the consumer market because a majority of tablets now feature one or two cameras, similarly to mobile phones.

“We expect CIS sales to generate nearly $1.5B in 2017!”, forecasts Paul Danini, Technology & Market Analyst, Imaging Technologies & MEMS Devices at Yole Développement. From another standpoint, car manufacturers have begun equipping cars with multiple cameras, pushed by upcoming regulations promoting greater safety

and driver assistance. The automotive market is expected to reach $400M in 2017, and will drive the need for high-performance sensors with special features, e.g. global shutter, very high dynamic range, and low-light sensitivity. This is completely different from the phone market which is still in the race for higher resolution.

As volumes increase, a clear duality appears between companies that have adopted a growth strategy by focusing on low-end markets and those opting for a specialization in high-end and higher margin markets to maintain profitability such as STMicroeletronics and Aptina.

Back in 2009, Omnivison was the only major fabless image sensor manufacturer, but that situation is set to change: the fablight/foundry business models will be more and more successful in the future, fueled by the new business model adopted by players that are not completely integrated up to the system level.

STMicroelectronics is about to outsource its backside illumination image sensor production to United Microelectronics Corp. (Taiwan), and Aptina Imaging already outsources its 12-inch production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The only companies that are financially sustainable with an IDM model are vertically integrated from leading-edge 300mm CIS manufacturing up to the system level: Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba.

Backside illuminated CMOS image sensors to represent more 50% of total revenues in 2017.As expected in 2010, the CMOS image sensor industry has evolved since the introduction of Backside Illumination Technology (BSI). Though BSI technology increases manufacturing costs by 20%, it enables a dramatic increase in sensor sensitivity which allows pixel size to further decrease; thus continuing the race toward higher resolution in mobile phone and DSC markets.

Three years after its introduction by Sony and Omnivision, the BSI technology is still limited to a small number of players: main leaders of the mobile phone market. BSI image sensors account for 18% of total CIS sales in 2012. This fast adoption of the BSI technology is expected to reach more than 50% by 2017, increasing revenue to $5.7B.

BSI adoption began in consumer markets: mobile phone, camcorders and DSC, but now that TowerJazz, the Israeli specialty open foundry, has developed an operational BSI production line, BSI is expected to find adoption in higher-end markets where CMOS is in competition with CCD.

According to the French consulting company, high potential technologies may quickly reshape the imaging industry, namely 3D Time-of-Flight imaging, computational imaging, quantum dot film, and single photon counting. The next technological breakthrough will likely come once again from Sony which has developed the first stacked sensor architecture for consumer market. Stacking pixels on the signal processing circuit rather than next to each other will optimize the manufacturing process of each circuit and provide sensors with greater sensitivity, faster readout, and much higher signal processing integration.

Get your report from Yole Développement at www.yole.fr


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