CMOS image sensor suppliers ramp up 300mm capacity

May 11, 2012 — CMOS image sensors (CIS) are breaking sales records again, after several years without upward momentum, reports IC Insights. New portable systems and embedded imaging are lifting CIS to $6.3 billion in 2012 and new record sales each year through 2016, shows IC Insights’ 2012 Optoelectronics, Sensors/Actuators, and Discretes (O-S-D) Report.

Also from the report:Optoelectronics, sensors, and discretes saw record year in 2011

Camera-equipped portable electronics — tablets and smartphones among them — are contributing consistent strong CIS sales. CIS are also going into embedded digital-imaging applications, being designed into automobiles, medical equipment, security networks, and other vision-recognition systems.

Figure. CMOS image sensor growth through 2016. SOURCE: IC Insights.

CMOS image sensors will grow from $4.5 billion in 2010, $5.8 billion in 2011, to $6.3 billion in 2012, a new record. 2016 promises 10.8 billion in CMOS image sensor sales. 2011 marked the first back-to-back annual sales increase in CIS since 2006. CIS faced problems from the global recession and camera-phone inventory corrections in the past decade, IC Insights notes. After a rapid rise with the introduction and adoption of camera-phones and web cams, CIS hit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% 2006-2011, low compared to the forecast 13% CAGR for 2012-2016.

In 2006, CMOS image sensors were in oversupply, and computer-embedded cameras and camera-phones were matured. Numerous CMOS image sensor manufacturers closed or sold their image sensor businesses.

Today, intense competition among leading CIS suppliers is on the rise again, IC Insights reports, with new applications fueling growth. Sony (#3 CIS supplier in 2011) and Toshiba (#5) are increasing fab capacity for products on 300mm wafers. Samsung (#2) is also boosting its 300mm capacity for image sensors. Fabless companies OmniVision (#1) and Aptina Imaging (#6) are under pressure to snap up 300mm foundry capacity for their CIS products. STMicroelectronics (#4) is also under the gun to move production from 200mm to 300mm wafers.

Automotive systems are the fastest-growing CMOS image sensor application, shows the 2012 O-S-D Report, with sales reaching $1.8 billion in 2016, 17% of the total market for CIS. With moderated growth, camera cellphones remain the largest CMOS image sensor application, with $5.4 billion (50% of total) in 2016 sales expected. In 2011, 72% of CIS sales were for camera phones. Standalone digital still cameras and video camcorders represent growth potential for CMOS devices, which are replacing charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors in these systems, but this market is shrinking as cameras in phones improve, shows the new O-S-D Report.

The 340-page 2012 edition of the O-S-D Report continues to expand IC Insights’ coverage of the semiconductor industry with detailed analysis of trends and growth rates in the optoelectronics, sensors/actuators, and discretes market segments. The report contains a detailed forecast of sales, unit shipments, and selling prices for more than 30 individual product types and categories through 2016. Learn more at


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