CIS industry: proliferation is benefiting both volume and revenue generation

Extracted from: Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry report – Release date: September 2018.


  • Proliferation of cameras for imaging and sensing is driving CIS growth.
  • Image sensor proliferation is benefiting both volume and revenue generation.
  • The rising market tide is buoying the entire ecosystem.

LYON, France – November 26, 2018: “CIS is a US$13.9 billion market built atop the CMOS ecosystem and serves all major electronic OEMs”, asserts Pierre Cambou, Principal Analyst, Technology & Market, Imaging at Yole Développement (Yole). CIS technology’s initial promise is to use high-volume CMOS foundries to manufacture image sensors in high volume and low cost, while improving system integration. CIS is now a highly specialized and optimized process, with few foundries able to maintain state-of-the-art production…
The market research and strategy consulting company Yole, released last September its annual technology and market report: Status of the CMOS Image Sensor Industry. In this new edition performed in collaboration with Jean-Luc Jaffard, formerly at STMicroelectronics and part of Red Belt Conseil, Yole’s analysts propose a valuable description of the CIS ecosystem with a detailed overview of each application, related market forecasts and players. Market positioning and strategy of each company are well analyzed with a detailed analysis of the competitive landscape. “CIS technology is becoming increasingly innovative”, comments Pierre Cambou from Yole. It is present at the forefront of 3D semiconductor technologies, quantum energy detection, AI, and more. Additionally, CIS is part of several megatrends, including autonomous vehicles and the robotic revolution at large. The consulting company announces a US$13.9 billion market in 2017 with a 9.4% CAGR for the next five years… Discover today the status of the CIS industry in the newly released report.

The key takeaway from 2017 has been the rapid deployment of dual camera approaches in the mobile sector. The market has quickly adopted dual cameras on the rear of the phones, serving photography either to improve resolution and low light performance or to provide optical zoom capabilities. Dual camera approaches have also been deployed on the front side, mostly serving biometric face or iris recognition, but also 3D sensing in the Apple iPhone X. Competition and differentiation between mobile device manufacturers is deeply linked to CIS implementation. CIS has therefore benefited from ever-increasing dollar content per smartphone, compensating for the mobile market slowdown in volume.

Security is now one of the most active markets, tightly connected to Chinese involvement in the industry. Hikvision and Dahua are the two new leading OEM manufacturers, having capitalized very quickly on internet protocol camera technology, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. The number of cameras per security system isn’t limited by human monitoring any more, which is a paradigm shift for surveillance. In automotive the same is occurring, as rear back-up cameras have become mandatory in the US and are widely deployed elsewhere.

Also, the move toward ever-increasing numbers of cameras per car, either to serve front ADAS collision avoidance or 360° parking assist cameras, is worldwide. The number of cameras increases at the same time as quality increases, which has a multiplier effect on revenue generation. The CIS industry sector is clearly in the middle of a golden age.

Sony is the unchallenged industry leader market and technology-wise. It benefited from the operational recovery of the Kuamoto foundry after the major earthquake of 2016. This helped Sony’s market share increase, on top of the CIS market’s rapid growth. Samsung is also maintaining its growth, and is now able to match most of Sony’s technology advancements in 3D stacking. This mostly serves Samsung’s handset division, but it’s increasingly supporting Chinese OEMs in a constrained environment for high-end Mobile CIS. Omnivision seems to have completed its transition toward continental China, with HLMC now producing one third of its products, and is capturing good revenue in automotive. The next logical step would be to expand its early successes in the NIR Global Shutter device designed into the Intel Realsense products, which unfortunately suffered from shrinking computing business.

STMicroelectronics stole the show at the end of 2017 by capturing the slot in the newly released iPhone X with an innovative NIR Global shutter based on a SOI substrate. ON Semiconductor has become the key player in automotive despite growing competition from Sony and Samsung. Growth in its Industrial division helped mitigate decreasing volumes of action and drone camera products. On the CIS foundry side, HLMC has benefited from the production transfer from Omnivision and TPSCo from ON Semiconductor. Hynix is apparently locked in a conundrum prioritizing DRAM over CIS. SMIC has to invest in the next generation technology and is in transition. Probably the last key aspect of this year’s status of CIS is China’s positive progress. Having built a consistent ecosystem incorporating CIS foundries, CIS vendors and high growth system manufacturers, China CIS ecosystem will become more important in the future…

A detailed description of this report is now available on, imaging reports section.

OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer
ADAS : Advanced Driver Assistance System
NIR : near-infrared
SOI : silicon-on-insulator

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