Sony plans multiple wafer fabs to address 5G

October 31, 2019 //By Peter Clarke
Sony plans multiple wafer fabs to address 5G
Sony Corp., the biggest maker of CMOS image sensors, is planning to build multiple wafer fabs in Nagasaki prefecture in Japan to make sensors for 5G smartphones and other equipment.

Reportedly Sony plans to allocate 100 billion yen (about $918 million) in its budget for the next fiscal year and to have one new wafer fab begin production at the start of the financial year in April 2021.

In a conference call to discuss the 2QFY19 financial results Sony's CFO Hiroki Totoki said: "We expect demand for our image sensors to continue to increase from next fiscal year as well due to the adoption of multi-sensor cameras and larger-sized sensors by smartphone makers. In order to respond to this strong demand, we have further improved the efficiency of space utilization in our existing factories and have raised our production capacity target for the end of March 2021 from 130,000 wafers per month to 138,000 wafers per month."

Totoki added: "We have decided to move forward in stages with the investment we had been considering to build new fabs at our Nagasaki facility to accommodate demand from the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2021."

In a presentation slide deck Sony indicated that the three-year capital expenditure budget would be 1.2 trillion yen (about $11 billion) and this would primarily be spent on image sensors. As 5G networks become more widely deployed they will not only boost smartphone sales but also applications in autonomous driving and industrial automation.

Sony took about 50 percent of the CMOS image sensor market in 2018 far ahead of second-ranked Samsung, which took 20 percent (see Sony took half the CMOS image sensor market in 2018 ).

Sony's next wafer fab will be built on a 74,800 square meter site adjacent to an existing plant in Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture, in southwestern Japan.

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