Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry

  • February 2014
  • -
  • Yole Developpement

As major technology changes continue to reshape the industrial landscape, a 10% CAGR is forecast for the CMOS image sensor market from 2013 – 2018. The market will reach a total value of ~US$13B by 2018, driven by consumer and automotive applications.

The CMOS Image Sensor market will reach US$13B by 2018!

Driven by handset and tablet applications, a 10% CAGR is forecast for the CMOS image sensor market from 2013 – 2018, reaching a value of almost US$13B by 2018.

Many different applications are driving CMOS image sensor integration.

It’s likely that the consumer market will benefit from new mobile technologies. As such, we foresee consumer applications (tablets, DSC etc.) to be the growth driver over the next five years (which is the opposite of the previous five years, which were driven exclusively by mobile applications).
Moreover, after being dominated by CCD, DSC applications are now shifting towards CMOS. And while DSLR will be a substitution market, the next wave is likely to be automotive applications, which could become CIS’ third big market.

Indeed, the CIS sensor market in automotive is showing steady growth, which is expected to continue in the coming years; possibly become CIS’ third-largest CIS market. Automotive also demands new technologies such as high dynamicrange sensors and near infra-red response, and will benefit (with appropriate optimization) from technology developments in the handset market.

A shift from driving assistance applications to security-based applications may imply significant quality and reliability design improvements in the near future, possibly leading to traditional automotive product providers entering the market with more exuberance.

Many other emerging applications are also set to drive CIS’ future growth, such as wearable electronics (i.e. smart watches), machine vision, security & surveillance, and medical applications. These applications are likely to be in position for strong growth in the mid and long-term.


The “Big 3” are likely to maintain their leadership, thanks to advanced technologies and strong production capacity

For each application, different market dynamics exist between competitors. In the handset market, we believe the Big 3, Omnivision, Samsung and Sony, will continue to dominate thanks to advanced technologies, a large installed capacity and a costoptimized manufacturing machine, while secondtier players must overcome economic and technical challenges to stay competitive.

In the consumer market, major Japanese companies will still lead in DSLR, and it’s likely to stay that way since they’re vertically-integrated (although some CIS companies have announced dedicated products). Automotive is a highly concentrated market, with 95% served by the top five suppliers.

The strong move in the CIS markets from major player such as SONY’s pushes other companies to a fablight / fabless strategy. Indeed, this evolution has started already with companies like Aptina and STMicroelectronics. As they are stuck with limited volumes and struggling because of fierce competition from both high-end and very low-end players, they need to outsource or co-develop their leading edge production (as their volumes are not high enough to invest in the prohibitively expensive infrastructures). Besides a dramatic change in their business model, these players also move to higher end applications and out of the traditional mobile phone market.

From front-end to camera module, numerous technological innovations will contribute to better resolution and new functionalities

Back-Side Illumination (BSI) is on its way to becoming a mainstream technology. As we foresaw in 2010, the CMOS image sensor industry has evolved since BSI’s introduction. And though BSI increases manufacturing costs, it enables a dramatic increase of sensor sensitivity which has allowed pixel size to decrease further towards higher resolution.

Three years after its introduction by Sony and Omnivision, BSI image sensors accounted for 27% of total CIS sales in 2012. BSI’s adoption is expected to reach more than 78% in 2018, bringing its total revenue to $10B. The technology will be widely adopted by handsets. Another breakthrough technology is stacked wafer CIS technology, which represents a disruptive route for performance and cost optimization.

Over the last few years, one of the image sensor world’s burning topics has been 3D cameras. The technology has seen increased development since the 2000s, and several products have reached the consumer market. Although 3D imaging has long been used in industrial automation, it only entered the consumer market in 2010, when Microsoft introduced Kinect, its low-cost 3D sensing camera.

The next generation of consumer 3D cameras will fuel the image sensor market with considerable potential, such as:

Gesture recognition in consumer applications, i.e. TV and gaming
Optical quality inspection in industrial automation
3D imaging in photographic or video cameras
Image analysis in automotive, surveillance and biometrics

At the front-end level, CMOS image sensors are undergoing numerous technological innovations. The race towards smaller pixels (and thus a smaller light-receiving photodiode area) in order to achieve better resolution also leads to pixel performance degradation. This is due to the degradation of two key parameters: SNR (limited by QE and spectral cross-talk) and well capacity. To cope with resolution loss when pixel size is reduced, heavy process and design innovations are necessary to overcome the limitations of conventional pixel performance and move to advanced pixel technology, while maintaining high sensitivity. All of these process improvements can be applied to less-aggressive pixel sizes and therefore contribute to overall performance increase. These evolutions are described in our report.

The current batch of breakthrough CMOS image sensor technologies aim to:

Diminish thickness (module level)
Improve image sensor performance (i.e. QE, sensitivity, resolution, reduced cross-talk, higher dynamic range, multispectral imaging, faster processing, higher CRA, lower power consumption)
Permit new functions (i.e. post/fast focus, photon discrimination, 3D imaging, gesture recognition, increased processing power).
Objectives of the report

Provide market data on key CIS market metrics & dynamics:
CMOS image sensor unit shipments, revenue and wafer production by application.
Market share with detailed breakdown for each Player (2011, 2012 and 2013 estimation).
Application focus on key CMOS image sensor growth areas (mobile handsets, DSC, DSLR, medical, automotive, security & surveillance, etc.).
Provide key technical insight into future technology trends and challenges:
From a manufacturing standpoint: design and front-end innovations.
A special focus is included for BSI technology, which has reshaped the image sensor industry – just as we predicted.
Provide an in-depth understanding of the CIS value chain, infrastructure and players:
Who are the CMOS image sensor players (IDMs, foundries, design houses) and how are they related?
More generally, who are the key suppliers to watch and how will the CMOS image sensor industry evolve?

What's new compared to last edition?

Updated 2012-2018 market forecasts with a refined model for cell phone applications
Identification of new entrants: SMIC, LFoundry, UMC, Hynix...
Updated applications analysis with a focus on machine vision
Updated technological section describing new production trends in different categories: new functionalities / future CIS generation / advanced pixel architecture / improved light confinement & selection
2013 market shares estimation

Key features of the report

Market forecasts in $US, units and wafers through 2018
Market segmentation for eight different applications
Supply chain analysis by application
Competitive landscape analysis with market share and estimated evolution
Technologies analysis and evolution
Players market shares (including 2013 estimation)

Companies cited in the report (non exhaustive list)

Acti Corp., ADIMEC, Advantest, Advasense, AIE, Alexima, Allied Vision Technology, Anafocus, Anteryon, Aphesa, Aptina Imaging, Austria Microsystems, Axis Communication, Awaiba, Basler, Bosch Security Systems, Brainvision, Brigates, Brookman Technology, BYD, Caeleste, Canon, Carestream Dental, Carestream Health, Clairpixel, CMOSIS, CMOS Vision, CMT Medical, Cognex, Continental, Crysview, CSEM, Dahua Technologies, Denso, DEXIS, D-Link, Delphi, Dongbu HiTek, DXG, e2v, e-con systems, ELMOS, EPFL, Excico, Fairchild Imaging, FLIR, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Forza Silicon, Fotonic, Foveon, Fraunhofer, Fujitsu, GalaxyCore, Gendex, Given Imaging, Grace Tech, Hamamatsu Photonics, Hella, Hightec, Hejian, Hikvision, Himax imaging, HHNEC-Grace, HTC, SK Hynix, Instrumentarium, Intromedic, Invisage, Invision Biometrics, Invendo Medical, Invensense, ImageWorks, IMEC, IMS-Chips, IO Industries, ISDI, JAI, Jinshan Group, JSR, JVC/Altasens, Konica Minolta, Kostal, KunShan RuiXin Micro, KYEC, Lfoundry, LG, Lytro, Mantis Vision, Magna, Magneti Marelli, Medigus, Melexis, MESA Imaging, Micron, Microsoft, Mobotix, Morita, New Imaging Technologies, Novatek, Odos Imaging, Omnivision, Omron, ON Semi, Optex, Owandy, Oy Ajat, Panavision Imaging, Panasonic, Pelican Imaging, PerkinElmer, Philips, Pixart, PixelPlus, Pixim, Pelco, PMD Technologies, Point Grey Research, Powerchip, Pyxalis, Rad-icon, Raytrix, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Samsung, Sarnoff, SETi...

Table Of Contents

What we saw, what we missed 5
Changes for the 2013 report 6
Report objectives and scope 7
Executive summary 13
Introduction and background 49
CCD vs. CMOS sensors
Market forecasts and supply chain 56
2011-2018 CMOS image sensor forecasts
Shipment forecast (in Munits)
Revenue forecast (in $M)
FSI vs. BSI forecast
Wafer production forecast (in wafer size eq.)
200mm vs. 300mm production forecast
Global CMOS image sensor
Manufacturing infrastructure
Supply chain and value chain
2012 market shares
In shipments (in Munits)
In revenue (in $M)
Estimated 2013-2018 market shares projection
Application focus 116
Market shares by application
Applications, specifications, markets and supply chain for :
Mobile phones
High-end photography
Professional video
Automotive sensors
Security and surveillance sensors
Medical imaging
Endoscopy (Camera pills, disposable endoscopes )
X-ray imaging (Dental imaging: intraoral and extraoral 3D detectors , medical detectors: CMOS x-ray flat panel detectors and single-photon counting detectors)
Industrial machine vision
Barcode scanning
New and future technologies 243
Summary of CMOS image sensors’ main technical innovations
New functionalities
3D imaging and gesture recognition
Computational imaging
Phase detection
Future image sensor generation
New absorptive layer
Quantum detection
Advanced pixel architecture
Transistor-shared pixels
Pixel isolation
FLAT pixel
3D stacked image sensors
Improved light confinement and selection
BEOL improvements
Color filter improvements
BSI imagers
Introduction to BSI architecture
BSI manufacturing challenges
Conclusions 404
Appendix 408
Yole Developpement presentation

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