Sony has announced the IMX017CQE high speed 1/1.8" type CMOS sensor with a resolution of six megapixels (2921 x 2184) and the ability to output this resolution at 60 frames per second (a data rate of around 384 megapixels per second). This sensor is important news both for its seamless transition between video capture and still capture and for the fact that it's a CMOS sensor of the 1/1.8" type, a rare thing indeed. In addition to its impressive full resolution 60 frames per second this sensor can also deliver 300 frames per second at lower resolutions. Because of its design this sensor can be used to capture full resolution stills during video capture without any dropped frames.

More information on the high-speed 'column A/D converter' used in this sensor

Sony IMX017CQE image senor data sheet (PDF)

Sony IMX017CQE CMOS sensor

Sony has now developed the IMX017CQE high-speed/high-resolution CMOS sensor that can output 6.4M-pixel images at 60 frame/s.

This sensor can also capture 6.4M-pixel high-resolution still images during moving images capture without interrupting the moving images capture.

This allows it to implement seamless imaging in which the user has no need to be aware of the boundary between still and moving imaging. It furthermore supports 300 frame/s ultrahigh-speed imaging, making it possible for consumer cameras to capture moving images without missing any of the decisive moments that were previously impossible to capture.

Image sensors have seen continuous progress in total pixel counts and, at the same time, in reduced feature sizes in the pixels. Now, by striving for higher speeds in addition to excellent picture quality, Sony is about to create a whole new market for image sensors.

  • Diagonal 9.10 mm (Type 1/1.8) 6.4M effective pixels (2921H × 2184V)
  • Pixel size: 2.5 μm unit pixel
  • 12-bit column A/D converter readout
  • Supports 60 frame/s transfer video capture and provides seamless transition between still and moving modes.
  • High-speed output interface: 12-bit parallel LVDS with 432 MHz high-speed data rate
  • Dual power supply drive (Analog: 3.0 V, Digital: 1.8 V)

In the IMX017CQE, Sony has achieved fast image acquisition and reproduction of high picture quality still images and moving images by skillfully combining the speed and integration characteristics of the CMOS sensor technology in the readout and other peripheral circuits.

Column A/D Converter Readout

The IMX017CQE integrates a separate A/D converter for each column, and performs A/D conversions in a column-parallel manner. This makes it possible to read out 6.4M pixels at the high speed of 60 frame/s.

The column-parallel A/D conversion method allows a much longer time to be spent on each conversion compared to the earlier pixel-at-a-time conversion, and thus is a structure that is effective at reducing random noise in the system.

Increased Pixel Count and Improved High Picture Quality

To achieve high resolution and high sensitivity, Sony optimized the pixel process technology and the pixel layout and achieved a sensitivity of 4200e- (at 3200K, 706 cd/m2, and 1/30 s accumulation) in a 2.5 μm unit pixel size.

Extensive Set of Readout Modes

The IMX017CQE provides three basic readout modes: a 6.4M-pixel, 60 frame/s mode that outputs 10-bit data at a pixel rate of 432 MHz, a 2×2 addition mode that supports high picture quality moving images, and a 3×3 addition mode that supports the conventional SD mode.

In addition, it also provides a 12-bit output mode and is capable of producing 6.4M pixels 12-bit high-resolution images at 15 frame/s.

The IMX017CQE also features a vertical 1/5-line readout mode in which it is capable of 300 frame/s moving imaging, and makes it possible to see instants that could not be captured previously.

Seamless Mode Transitions

Invalid frames (i.e., drop frames) do not occur when switching from high picture quality moving image mode to still image mode, or in the reverse transition. Thus the IMX017CQE can capture 6.4M pixels high-resolution still images during moving image capture without interrupting the moving image capture.

Built-in Peripheral Circuits

The IMX017CQE includes many of its peripheral circuits, including the horizontal and vertical drive circuits, a PLL circuit, an internal reference voltage generating circuit, and an LVDS interface.