Sony, the largest image sensor supplier in the world, is failing to meet client demands even at full capacity. Bloomberg reported that the undersupply would continue for a while with Sony’s new image sensor manufacturing facilities scheduled to be put into operation in April 2021.
With artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT development leading to an explosive increase in image sensor demand, Samsung Electronics as well as Sony is running its image sensor production lines at full capacity. In September this year, Samsung Electronics released ISOCELL Slim GH1, the world’s first mobile image sensor with a pixel size of 0.7 micrometer. In August, the company released ISOCELL Bright HMX, the world’s first 108-megapixel mobile image sensor.
According to market research firm TSR, the global image sensor market is expected to have grown from US$13,116 million to US$15,883.9 million this year. At present, the market shares of Sony, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are 48.3 percent, 21 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The current market size is about 25 percent of the size of the NAND flash market and the former is predicted to catch up with the latter in the near future.
In the third quarter of this year, Sony was the world’s eighth-largest semiconductor company in terms of sales despite the fact that image sensors are almost the only semiconductor product it produces. Samsung Electronics is currently aiming to become the largest system-on-chip supplier in the world by 2030 by starting from the image sensor market. According to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, the capital expenditures in the industry are estimated to increase 20 percent and 92 percent in the first and second halves of next year, respectively.