Back in February of this year, we learned that Sony had been working on a 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor for their smartphones. This was interesting because the new sensor was going to enable slow motion video recording at up to 1,000 frames per second. Most smartphones these days can only go up to a couple of hundred FPS at 720p, with the Xperia XZ Premium being capable of 960 FPS. A new report out of South Korea now claims Samsung is working on a similar sensor that will go into mass production this November.
Most image sensors that we see in smartphones these days consist of 2 individual layers. Therefore, the data lanes and storage of the 2-layer image sensors are only able to transfer so much information at one time. With Sony’s 3-layer image sensor, we’re now able to dump the information to the local cache and then flush the data to the internal storage as it fills up. This specific method allows for up to 1,000 frames per second at 1080p video recording and this is what we’ve seen in some of Sony’s devices including the Xperia XZ Premium with its 960 FPS ultra-slow-motion feature.
Sony was able to do this by adding DRAM to the third layer of the image sensor and it looks like Samsung will be doing something similar. This DRAM allows the device to capture one still image of a video (at 19.3 million pixels) in only 1/120 of a second. Samsung is said to start an internal pilot program with this new image sensor next month and if everything goes smoothly then they will begin mass production of this component in November of this year.
While unlikely, this could increase the prices of the smartphone which use it even higher because the manufacturing process is more difficult. Just like with Sony though, it will give them another sought-after feature that they can use in marketing material to help win more customers.