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Overview: Global CMOS Image Sensor Market

August, 2019

Image-based sensing has become the key component of data source for many applications and the need for image-driven data is expanding across industries. Market share for image sensors for automotive applications is certainly gaining market share as OEMs for increasingly relying on vision systems to improve vehicle safety and driving comfort.

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Typically, CCD and CMOS are the two main types of image sensors available in the market. CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensor is a photosensitive device that converts light signals into digital signals. The demand for CCD image sensors is gradually declining since the adaption of CMOS image sensing technology has increased from early 2000. Compared to CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) image technology, the CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Silicon) imager technology consumes less power. Additionally, the production cost of CMOS image sensors is less and offers greater on-chip integration, which is a key factor contributing to the higher adoption of CMOS image sensing technologies across various applications.

Based on technology, the CMOS image sensor can be categorized into front-side illuminated (FSI) CMOS image sensor and back-side illuminated (BSI) CMOS image sensor. Frontside illuminated CMOS image sensor is built with a lens at the front and a matrix of photodetectors at the back, where the light enters between the front metal wiring and then focuses on the photosensitive area (photodiode). The key advantages of FSI CMOS image sensor include a simple manufacturing process and less manufacturing cost. As the industry is moving towards thinner devices and which has less space for components, the preference of FSI CMOS image sensor is reducing across all application areas.

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In backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS image sensor, the electrical components are separated from the light source allowing the optical path to be independently optimized, which avoids reflection, absorption, and flare of the metal wiring layer. In FSI structure, the photodiode can be illuminated from its backside, which helps the image sensor to provide higher color fidelity and tack-sharp images with greater dynamic range. This factor contributes to the higher demand for BSI CMOS image sensor for applications that require high resolution with limited optical and pixel size, high sensitivity, and stable low-light performance. Some of the key applications where the BSI CMOS image sensors include smartphones, high-end security, and surveillance cameras, automotive, and factory automation.

Based on application, the global CMOS image sensor market is segmented into mobile & computing, industrial/aerospace/defense, automotive, medical, security & surveillance, and others. The mobile & computing application segment was the dominant segment accounted for more than 75% of the market share in 2018 and is projected to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. This is mainly due to standardization on dual cameras in mobile devices and OEMs are increasingly focusing on improving smartphone camera capabilities such as image processing, improved facial recognition autofocus, noise reduction, image stabilization, light sensitivity, and others.

Some of the prominent players in the global CMOS image sensor market includes Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, SAMSUNG, OmniVision Technologies, Inc., ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics, Panasonic Corporation, SK HYNIX INC., GalaxyCore Inc., Himax Technologies, Inc., and SmartSens Technology.