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Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry 2017

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New use cases and applications are transforming the CMOS Image Sensor landscape

New applications are transforming the market and technology playing field for CMOS image sensors

It’s ten years down the line from the initial Apple iPhone that started the smartphone era. Since then, CMOS imaging has benefited from huge market demand and a technology-driven environment, resulting in an $11.6B industry in 2016. Photography and video is the main application, which is totally transformed by new use cases, new devices and new technologies.

The mobile market is key for the CMOS image sensor (CIS) industry. Despite saturation in the number of handsets, the CIS market has been able to maintain a 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the 2016-2022 period due to the introduction of dual and 3D cameras. These additional cameras are changing the industry’s drivers from form factor and image quality to interactivity.

Penetration into higher added value markets such as automotive, security and medical shows that CIS products are transforming use cases across the board. CIS technology adoption allows greater automation levels at low cost, while using newly available computing architectures such as deep learning. The CMOS image sensor industry is currently in a virtuous circle where a new technology is providing true customer value.

Besides the transformation of current applications, new applications such as drone photography, biometric identification, and augmented reality are relying on CIS innovation. All these new applications are part of the story told in the ‘2017 Status of the CIS Industry’ report.

Image sensor application Yole report 

Beyond the $10B landmark, the CIS ecosystem has not become the oligopoly we would have expected

Sony has established itself as industry leader, market and technology wise. However, the 2016 earthquake in Japan slowed down its operation and helped maintain the growth of its close competitors. Indeed, despite Toshiba’s exit from the market, two thirds of players have seen growth in the last year. Samsung, Omnivision and Panasonic have delivered 15% year-on-year growth. Those large players are increasing the weight Asia carries in the CIS industry.

In the US, On Semi has suffered from the public relations mess that followed a fatal crash involving Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system, which included a Mobileye sensor. Automotive cameras are safety-critical and therefore the reaction is strong if performance does not match expectations. Tesla being cleared by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Intel’s $15B purchase of Mobileye should quickly put this application and affiliated players back on the growth track. Moving along the technology ladder proved to be difficult for SK Hynix, which was not able to switch quickly enough toward >8MP image sensors requiring 300mm wafer diameter operations.

Another noticeable activity has been STMicroelectronics’ revival of its CIS business through the development of 3D ‘Time of Flight’ (ToF) devices. These devices have had the ability to move from proximity to distance rangers and then fully fledged 3D cameras. They will probably be the biggest event of the end of 2017, if they materialize in the Apple iPhone 8 as is rumored.

2016 CIS revenue breakdown Yole report 

Speed of technology adoption mirrors the application development frenzy

A CMOS image sensor is an analog device using a digital process. Therefore, the industry has been following a key principle of “one application, one pixel, one process”. This probably explains the dynamism of the ecosystem and the ability of different players to coexist in different markets. On Semi, Teledyne, ams and STMicroelectronics all provide perfect examples of successful differentiating strategies.

The impact of 3D semiconductors is currently a key element of the competition. Samsung has finally joined Sony as a provider of stacked back-side illuminated (BSI) sensors. Omnivision and SK Hynix will also soon launch this technology. Meanwhile, SMIC and STMicroelectronics will probably be the next players to unveil their versions of stacked technology.

Increases in CIS production capacity have momentarily stopped due to this stacked trend. This is currently mainly due to Sony, which can source its logic wafers from TSMC. In coming years Sony, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, HLMC and SK Hynix will all announce extra CIS capacity in order to meet market demand, despite stacked BSI adoption.

Image sensors have become a significant semiconductor segment alongside processors and memories. They still provide a technology-driven environment that is profit-friendly despite fierce competition. The outcome of the competition depends on a combination of application pull and technology fit. To help judge that, this report is aimed at giving the best possible snapshot of the current status of the CIS industry. Purchasers can therefore use it in order to proactively benefit from the next wave of innovations.

Image sensor technology Yole report

What's new

  • 2016-2022 forecast
  • 2016 M&A activity
  • Ecosystem update
  • Dual and 3D camera trends for mobile
  • Automotive camera adoption curve
  • Security camera trend
  • 3D stacking technology update


Objectives of the Report

Ecosystem identification and analysis:

  • Determination of the range of applications
  • Technical market segmentation
  • Market trends and forecasts
  • Key players by market, and analysis

Analysis and description of markets and technologies involved:

  • Detailed applications for each market segment
  • Major players worldwide
  • Technology trends
  • Main technical challenges


Table of contents

Glossary    2

Table of contents    3

Report objectives     6

Methodology    8

Companies cited     13

Executive summary    14

Introduction     31

> Market segmentation
> Historical perspective
> CMOS image sensor landscape by player
> CMOS image sensor landscape by application
> CMOS image sensor technology shift CMOS vs CCD
> CMOS image sensor technology shift BSI vs FSI
> CMOS image sensor technology shift 300mm vs 200mm


Market forecast    47

> 2016 CIS revenue breakdown by market
> CIS volume shipment forecast 2010-2022
> CIS revenue forecast 2010-2022
> CIS average selling price forecast 2010-2022
> CIS wafer production forecast 2010-2022


Ecosystem    61

> 2016 M&A activity in CIS
> CMOS image sensor ecosystem
> CMOS image sensor competitive landscape
> Geographic mapping of CIS players
> Geographic mapping of CIS foundries


Players and rankings    71

> 2016 CIS revenue ranking by player
> 2016 CIS production ranking by foundry
> 2016 CIS player activity breakdown
> 2016 CIS revenue mobile market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue photography market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue tablet market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue laptop PC market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue medical X-ray market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue security and surveillance market breakdown by player
> 2016 CIS revenue machine vision market breakdown by player


Mobile market trends     88

> Consumer electronics volume forecast
> Consumer electronics revenue forecast
> Who can afford a smartphone?
> Revenue comparison
> Mobile market volume forecast by phone type
> Mobile market volume forecast by player
> Market drivers
> Mobile resolution mix forecast
> Dual camera rollout scenario
> 3D camera applications
> Mobile market trends


Other consumer market trends    111

> Consumer photography volume forecast
> Action camera and drone volume forecast
> 360° camera trend
> AR/VR headset volume forecast
> AR/VR headset trend
> Wearable volume forecast
> Consumer drone volume forecast
> Consumer robotics volume forecast
> Computing volume forecast


Other market trends      132

> Light vehicle volume forecast
> Automotive imaging trend
> Automotive camera volume forecast
> Robotic vehicle trend
> Medical CIS volume forecast
> Medical CIS trend
> Security and surveillance volume forecast
> Machine vision volume forecast


Technology trends     155

> Pixel/Resolution/Optical Format
> From FSI to BSI to stacked BSI
> Hybrid stack/Multi-stack
> 3D imaging and sensing
> Technology by players


Conclusion    193

Yole Développement presentation     197


Companies cited

 Core Photonics
 Dongbu HiTek
 ESPROS Photonics
 Excelitas Technologies
 Fairchild Imaging
 Forza Silicon
 Given Imaging
 Grace Valley
 Himax Imaging
 Image Lab
 Konica Minolta
 Leap Motion
 Mantis Vision

 Mesa Imaging
 New Imaging Technologies
 Odos Imaging
 ON Semiconductor
 PMD Technologies
 Point Grey Research
 Sanei Hytech
 Soft Kinetic
 SK Hynix
 Teledyne e2v
 Teledyne DALSA
 Toshiba Teli
 and more…


























  • 2016 CIS revenue breakdown by market
  • 2016 CIS revenue ranking by player
  • 2016 CIS production ranking by foundry
  • CIS volume shipment forecast by application 2010-2022
  • CIS revenue forecast by application 2010-2022
  • CIS average selling price forecast by application 2010-2022
  • CIS wafer production forecast by application 2010-2022