And the megapixel race continues. In the smartphone world, anyway. Sony
has just released a new sensor for cameraphones, and it's one with a
megapixel count that just sounds unreal for the sector. The company's
new 16.41 megapixel Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS image sensor may sound
like it's designed for a next generation DSLR
, but in reality, it's for
phones of the future.
Sony is stating that this new innovation will dramatically improve
cameraphone performance, which have lagged behind in recent years
despite megapixel counts that are rising. Sony is planning to launch two
new lens modules equipped with these image sensors, which also include
the smallest and thinnest model for mobile phones. If you're keeping
count, this is also the first time that Exmor R is being used in mobile
phones at all.
We hope that Sony sells this sensor to other phone makers; no need to
keep it in the family, Sony!
Sony commercializes world's first*1 16.41 Megapixel "Exmor R™" back-illuminated CMOS image sensors for mobile phones
-- Also announces industry's smallest and thinnest*1 lens module for mobile phones --
October 7, 2010, Tokyo, Japan - Sony Corporation (hereafter, "Sony") today announced the commercialization of two new "Exmor R" back-illuminated CMOS image sensors with dramatically improved photographic performance including significantly high sensitivity and low noise. In addition, Sony will launch two new lens modules equipped with these image sensors, which also include the smallest and thinnest*1 model for mobile phones. This is also the first time that "Exmor R" is commercialized for the use in mobile phones.
*1 As of October 7, 2010
<Above> Lens modules: "IU081F" (left), "IU105F2" (right)
<Below> "Exmor R" back-illuminated CMOS image sensors:"IMX081PQ" (left), "IMX105PQ" (right)
Model Name Shipment date (Plan) Sample price
Type 1/2.8 16.41 effective megapixels
back-illuminated CMOS image sensor
"IMX081PQ" January, 2011 2,500 JPY
Type 1/3.2 8.13 effective megapixels
back-illuminated CMOS image sensor
"IMX105PQ" April, 2011 1,500 JPY
Type 1/2.8 16.41 effective megapixels*2
Lens module "IU081F" March, 2011 12,000 JPY
Type 1/3.2 8.13 effective megapixels*2
Lens module "IU105F2" April, 2011 8,000 JPY
*2 Based on the effective pixels of the image sensor
"IMX081PQ" is world's first*1 type 1/2.8 back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which realizes 16.41 effective megapixel resolution, and adopts the industry's smallest*1 unit pixel size of 1.12μm. "IMX105PQ" is a type 1/3.2 back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which realizes 8.13 effective megapixel resolutions for higher sensitivity and adopts a unit pixel size of 1.4μm. By embedding these highly sensitive sensors into mobile phones, including those without camera flash, users can capture high quality photos and videos even in low light settings.
Furthermore, Sony will commercialize "IU081F" and "IU105F2" compact auto-focus lens modules which include the two new "Exmor R" back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. These down-sized modules are suitable and efficient for mobile phones with relatively limited space and are equipped with high performance lens which maximize the image sensors' respective performances. "IU081F" is the industry's smallest and thinnest*1 auto-focus lens module (W10.5 X D10.5 X H7.9mm) and is equipped with the 16.41 effective megapixel*2 CMOS image sensor. "IU105F2" adopts the 8.13 effective megapixel*2 CMOS image sensor, and belongs in the industry's smallest and thinnest*3 size class (W8.5 X D8.5 X H5.67mm).
Through its proprietary fine pixel fabrication process technology, Sony will proactively continue the development of "Exmor R" which adopts the 1.12μm unit pixel size for mobile phones. Accordingly, Sony aims to address customer demand by providing appropriately small lens modules especially for smartphones with large displays and limited space for components.
About the realization of high resolution
"IMX081PQ" is world's first*1 type 1/2.8 back-illuminated CMOS image sensor which realizes 16.41 effective megapixel resolution, and adopts the industry's smallest*1 unit pixel size of 1.12μm achieved by the fine pixel fabrication process technology. In theory, when a unit pixel size is made smaller, there are also some issues such as color mixture among smaller unit pixels. Sony solved this problem by implementing a unique formation of photo diodes optimally designed for fine pixel structure to realize a CMOS image sensor with high resolution, high sensitivity and low noise.
Since 2009, Sony has been mass producing "Exmor R" for Digital Still Cameras and Digital Video Camcorders on wafer lines (with diameter of 200mm) at Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center. At the end of 2010, Sony plans to start the mass production of "Exmor R," including those for mobile phones announced today, at Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corporation's Kumamoto Technology Center, on cutting-edge wafer lines (with diameter of 300mm). Sony already announced (September 1, 2010) the investment of approximately 40 billion yen in Kumamoto Technology Center to increase production capacity for CMOS image sensors.
About Back-illuminated CMOS image sensor "Exmor R"
Sony first announced the development of "Exmor R" on Jun, 2008. "Exmor R" has been incorporated in Sony's digital imaging products since 2009, and its use in other products has continued to expand. "Exmor R" CMOS image sensor features Sony's independently developed back-illuminated structure, realizing significantly higher sensitivity as well as lower noise. In this back-illuminated CMOS image sensor, light is directed onto the silicon substrate from behind, allowing light to be used with a level of efficiency not possible with conventional front-illuminated structures.