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CMOS image sensor sales ‘set for further strong growth’ – analyst

09 Oct 2018

Yole Dévelopement raises CIS forecasts again through 2022 with growth seen in all segments except computing.

Market analyst Yole Développement has published its annual Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry report on the “CIS” industry, which covers the period 2017 to 2023.

The report’s headline figure is that in 2017 the CIS market achieved sales of $13.9 billion. Yole is also forecasting that the CIS sector will enjoy a 9.4% CAGR between 2017 and 2023, “driven mainly by smartphones integrating additional cameras to support functionalities like optical zoom, biometry, and 3D interactions”.

As well as giving a clear picture of the CIS ecosystem and its prospects, the Yole analysts also give a detailed description of recent M&A activities, an overview of the dual and 3D camera trends for mobile devices. Mobile and consumer applications are also detailed, “with a deep added-value section focused on technology evolution.”

“2017 was an excellent year for CIS, with growth seen in all segments except for computing,” commented Pierre Cambou, Principal Analyst, Technology & Market, Imaging at Yole. “Driven by new applications, the industry’s future remains on a strong footing.”

In collaboration with Jean-Luc Jaffard, formerly at STMicroelectronics and part of Red Belt Conseil, Cambou has conducted an investigation into this sector for the past year. Cambou commented, “Within five years we at Yole believe CIS sales will almost double to more than $23 billion per year. Year-on-year growth will peak at about 20% due to the exceptional increase in image sensor value, across almost all markets, but primarily in the mobile sector.”

Key players and shares

In the CIS sector, revenue is dominated by mobile, consumer, and computing, which represent 85% of total 2017 CIS revenue. Mobile alone represents 69%. Security is the second-largest segment, behind automotive.

The CIS ecosystem is currently led by the three Asian heavyweights: Sony, Samsung, and Omnivision. Europe has made a noticeable comeback, Yole notes. Meanwhile, the US maintains a presence in the high-end sector.

The market has benefited significantly from the operational recovery of leading CIS player Sony, which captured 42% market share, state the report authors.

“Apple’s iPhone has had a tremendous effect on the semiconductor industry, and on imaging in particular,” commented Pierre Cambou in his article Image sensors benefit hugely from Apple’s avant-garde strategy posted on i-micronews.com.

“The iPhone offered an opportunity for its main supplier, Sony, to reach new highs in the CIS process, building on its early advances in high-end digital photography.”

TheYole report continues, “The CIS industry can grow at the speed of the global semiconductor industry, which also had a record year (in 2017), mainly due to DRAM revenue growth. CIS have become a key segment of the broader semiconductor industry, featuring in the strategy of most key players, and particularly the newly-crowned industry leader Samsung. Mobile, security and automotive markets are all in the middle of booming expansion, mostly benefiting ON Semiconductor and Omnivision.”

Yole concludes that these markets are “boosting most players that can keep pace with technology and capacity development through capital expenditure.” It added, “There are opportunities all across the board, with new players able to climb the rankings, such as STMicroelectronics and Smartsense. Technology advancement and the switch from imaging to sensing is fostering innovation at multiple levels: pixel, chip, wafer, all the way through to the system.”

CIS sensors are also now at the forefront of 3D semiconductor approaches. They are a main driver in the development of artificial intelligence. Yole’s analysts foresee new techniques and new applications all ready to keep up the market growth momentum.

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