Sony spending ~$500M for image sensor expansion

June 6, 2007 – Identifying image sensors as a key focus area for its semiconductor business, Sony Corp. says it will invest approximately 60 billion yen (US $493.3 million) to expand its Kumamoto Technology Center (TEC) in Kyushu over the next three years.

The investment will involve cleanroom adding 5000 sq. m of cleanroom space at Kumamoto TEC’s Fab 2 300mm facility, where mass production began earlier this year, roughly doubling the size of the current site. Production capacity will be ramped by about 20% at the site, run by subsidiary Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp., to the equivalent of >20,000 wafers/month for both CCD and CMOS sensors, according to the Nikkei daily paper.

Kumamoto TEC has been Sony’s principle facility for making devices such as CCDs, CMOS sensors, and micro-displays, and CMOS sensor demand has accelerated in recent years, according to Sony. The company’s semiconductor business realized 780 billion ($6.41 billion) in sales in the just-completed fiscal year, with about 30% of sales shipped outside the company, the paper notes.

Sony, which is postponing investments to the Cell processor to shift focus to imaging sensors, has earmarked about 300 billion yen ($2.47 billion) for capital investments in its semiconductor business in the next three years, about 30% below what it spent in the previous three-year period, the Nikkei paper noted.


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