Third stack’s the charm: Sony unveils new smartphone sensor capable of 1,000fps and less rolling shutter


posted Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 10:54 AM EST


Sony has taken the wraps off its newest smartphone image sensor. The new sensor is the industry’s first three-layer stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM for smartphones and it offers high-speed data readout with reduced distortion when shooting stills. Perhaps what is most impressive about the new sensor is what it can do when recording video. The new CMOS sensor can record full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) video at up to 1,000 frames per second.

This unprecedented speed is due to the third layer, which is a DRAM layer. Typically, Sony’s smartphone image sensors have employed a two-layer design. The high-capacity DRAM layer can read a still image of 19.3 million pixels in a mere 1/120 second, which Sony states is approximately four times faster than a conventional product. This results in less focal plane distortion when shooting fast-moving subjects, otherwise known as rolling shutter.

Reduced rolling shutter and super slow motion is nice, but what about the sensor’s other specifications? The 21.2-megapixel sensor is capable of recording 19.3-megapixel still images at up to 30 frames per second and can record 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) video at up to 60 frames per second. For more details on the new sensor, see here.

The new design (right) has a third layer - a dedicated DRAM layer.

The new sensor (right) has reduced rolling shutter due to its faster readout.

As The Verge points out, both Apple and Google use Sony sensors in their iPhone 7 and Pixel phones, respectively, so we can reasonably expect Sony’s latest sensor to be utilized in new models of many popular phones in the future.

(Seen via The Verge)