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Electronics Production | June 23, 2010

Record sales for sensors

With demand for digital cameras, camera phones, and machine-vision systems recovering, sales of image sensor devices are forecast to grow 31% in 2010.
The sales for image sensor devices will reach a new record high of $8.5 billion after falling 19% in 2009, according to IC Insights' new 2010 Optoelectronics, Sensors, and Discretes (O-S-D) Report. The 2009 decline was the worst
suffered by image sensors since the 2001 semiconductor recession, when this optoelectronics market segment fell 24%.

The projected 31% rise in 2010 will be the greatest annual sales increase for image sensors since 2004, when the market surged by 76%.

Worldwide image sensor growth continues to be driven by applications for CMOS-based devices, which will account for 61% of sales in the market this year compared to 39% coming from charge-coupled devices (CCDs), concludes the O-S-D Report. The new report's forecast shows CMOS image sensors sales rising 34% in 2010 to a record-high $5.2 billion from nearly $3.9 billion in 2009, when revenues fell 16% due to weak demand in the economic recession. Between 2009 and 2014, CMOS image sensor sales are projected to increase at a 17% compound average growth rate (CAGR), reaching $8.3 billion in the final year of the forecast period.

CMOS image sensors dominate high-growth portable systems applications, such as camera phones, Webcams in notebook computers, and other embedded cameras in handheld products, but new specialized and higher-speed CMOS imagers are also being aimed at automotive systems, medical equipment, and wireless video security networks. CMOS imaging devices are also employed in optical mouses, toys, and video games (see figure). With 65nm processes now being applied to some new devices, CMOS image sensor pixel densities are rivaling those of CCDs, which still are generally better at capturing higher quality digital images, especially in low-light conditions. Integration of imaging processing circuits and higher-speed pixel rates are enabling CMOS devices to replace CCDs in more applications.

Meanwhile, CCD image sensor sales are forecast to rise 27% in 2010 to $3.3 billion after falling 24% in 2009 to $2.6 billion. CCDs, which continue to dominate digital still cameras, video camcorders, scanners, and other machine imaging applications, are expected to set a new sales record in 2011, when dollar volumes reach nearly $3.7 billion and exceed the current annual peak of $3.5 billion set in 2006. IC Insights' 2010 O-S-D Report shows CCD sales growing at an 8% CAGR in the five-year forecast period, reaching $3.8 billion in 2014.

Total image sensor sales continue to be the largest segment in the optoelectronics market. In 2009, image sensor revenues (at $6.4 billion) accounted for 35% of the $18.3 billion optoelectronics market, followed by solid-state lamp devices (primarily LEDs), which represented 31% of the sales total (at $5.7 billion), according to IC Insights' new O-S-D Report. The light-emitting diode product category is now increasing at a much higher rate than image sensors due to strong growth in high-brightness LEDs, which are used to illuminate flat-displays in digital TVs and LCDs in cellular smartphones and other portable systems as well as in emerging solid-state room lighting products. By 2014, total LED sales will be roughly equal to image sensors at $12.1 billion, based on the report's forecast.

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