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December 18, 2018

Sony Releases CMOS Image Sensor for Automotive Cameras with
5.4 Effective Megapixels,*1 the Industry’s Highest*2 in a Sensor that Delivers Simultaneous HDR Shooting and LED Flicker*3 Mitigation

Enabling High Precision Recognition in Moonlight and Sunlight Across Broader Area, Oriented for Automated Driving

    December 18, 2018
    Revised on December 20, 2018

    Tokyo, Japan — Sony Corporation announced today that it has released the 1/1.55 type, 5.4-effective-megapixel*1 IMX490 CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras. Sony will begin shipping samples in March 2019.

    IMX490 CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras
    Model name Sample shipment date Sample price
    (excluding tax)
    1/1.55 type, 5.4-effective-megapixel IMX490 CMOS image sensor for automotive cameras March 2019 15,000 JPY

    The new image sensor simultaneously achieves HDR and LED flicker*3 mitigation functions at the industry’s highest*2 5.4-effective-megapixels*1. This makes it possible to capture a wider angle of view while maintaining the same resolution as with existing lower resolution sensors, enabling the sensor to recognize traffic conditions and objects such as obstacles, signs, and traffic signals across a broader field.

    Sony has also improved the saturation illuminance through a proprietary pixel structure and exposure method. When using the HDR imaging and LED flicker*3 mitigation functions at the same time, this offers a wide 120dB*4 dynamic range, about three times higher than that of the previous product. This means highlight oversaturation can be mitigated, even in situations where 100,000 lux sunlight is directly reflecting off a light-colored car in the front, and the like, thereby capturing the subject more accurately even under road conditions where there is a dramatic lighting contrast such as when entering and exiting a tunnel.

    Moreover, this unique method prevents motion artifacts that occur when capturing moving subjects compared with other HDR technologies*5

    In addition to these benefits, this product improves the sensitivity characteristics by about 15% compared to that of the previous generation product, improving the capability to recognize pedestrians and obstacles even in low illuminance conditions of 0.1 lux, the equivalent of moonlight.

    In recent years, requirements such as the Euro NCAP designed for automobile assessment in Europe are starting to require that vehicles be able to avoid collisions with bicycles, pedestrians unexpectedly entering the roadway, and nighttime pedestrians. This product meets these demands, thereby contributing to the realization of highly accurate recognition ability in the various traffic conditions that vehicles are confronted with.

    This product is scheduled to meet the AEC-Q100 Grade 2 reliability standards for automobile electronic components for mass production. Sony has also introduced a development process compliant with ISO 26262 functional safety standards for automobiles to ensure that design quality meets the functional safety requirements for automotive applications, thereby supporting functional safety level ASIL D for fault detection, notification and control.*6 Moreover, the new sensor has security functions to protect the output image from tampering.

    • *1Based on image sensor effective pixel specification method
    • *2As of announcement on December 18, 2018
    • *3LED flickering that occurs when photographing LED indicators, traffic lights, etc.
    • *4In accordance to the EMVA 1288 standard. 140dB when set to prioritize dynamic range.
    • *5Depends on conditions. A function introduced with the IMX390 (current model).
    • *6Conforms to ASIL D. A portion of the failure rate metric has been tailored.

    Main Features

    1. Achieves HDR shooting and LED flicker*3 mitigation at the same time and features industry’s highest*2 5.4 effective megapixels,*1 enabling wide-angle shooting

    Due to the increase in traffic facilities using LEDs on roads, in situations of dramatic contrast such as at the entrances and exits of tunnels, the need for LED flicker*3 mitigation simultaneous with HDR has been increasing for automotive cameras. While addressing this need, Sony has produced a 5.4-effective-megapixel*1 sensor that is 2880 pixels wide by 1860 pixels high, making it possible to capture a wider angle of view while maintaining the same object resolution as before. In the horizontal direction, this sensor enables recognition of a broader field of obstacles and signs in addition to bicycles and pedestrians along the roadside. In the vertical direction, it enables recognition of traffic lights that are located above the vehicle when stopped at the stop line of certain intersections in a greater variety of positions and heights.

    Sample comparison movies: 5.4-effective-megapixel*1 IMX490 (Left),
    Equivalment to 2.0-effective-megapixel CMOS image sensor (Right)

    2. 120dB*4 HDR function three times that of conventional product, plus motion artifact mitigation*5

    Automotive cameras need to capture clear images with low noise, without causing obscure shadows and highlight oversaturation, even in situations with dramatic contrast such as the entrances and exits of tunnels and urban areas at night. Thanks to a proprietary pixel structure and improved exposure method, this image sensor’s HDR function achieves a wide dynamic range of 120dB*4 with low noise, which is about three times better than that of the previous product. This sensor can mitigate highlight oversaturation even with high illuminance subjects at 100,000 lux (equivalent to direct sunlight),.

    Furthermore, when capturing moving subjects, typical HDR technology causes some misalignment due to differently timed exposures, which causes blur and ghosting effects known as motion artifacts. This product, however, prevents motion artifacts using a proprietary method.*5

    3. High sensitivity of 2,280 mV (standard value: F5.6) improved by approximately 15% over that of conventional product

    Nighttime pedestrians have been added as a target of the automatic collision avoidance system to be assessed under the Euro NCAP. Likewise, in the automotive market as a whole, the demand for high sensitivity and high image quality shooting performance at night is increasing.

    This image sensor is equipped with a circuit that improves the efficiency in converting the electronic signal obtained by the photodiode into a voltage signal, resulting in about a 15% improvement compared to that of the previous product. This raises the capability to recognize obstacles and people at a low illuminance of 0.1 lux, equivalent to moonlight.

    4. Quality level and functions required for automotive applications

    This image sensor meets the following quality standards and functions for automotive applications:

    • Scheduled to meet the AEC-Q100 Grade 2 reliability testing standards for automotive electronic components by the time mass production shipment starts.
    • Development process compliant with ISO 26262 functional safety standards for automobiles implemented to ensure design quality that meets functional safety requirements for automotive applications.
    • Meets ASIL D functional safety requirement level*6.
    • Comes with security feature to prevent tampering of images output by the image sensor.

    Key Specifications

    Model name IMX490
    Number of effective pixels 2896 (H) × 1876 (V), approx. 5.4 megapixels
    Image size Diagonal 10.36mm (type 1/1.55)
    Unit cell size 3.0μm (H) × 3.0μm (V)
    Frame rate Full pixel AD10bit 40fps, AD12bit 30fps
    Sensitivity (F5.6 standard value, 1/30 second storage time) 2,280mV (green pixel)
    Dynamic range (EMVA 1288 standard) 120dB (140dB when prioritizing dynamic range)
    Power supply Analog 3.3V
    Digital 1.8V1.1V
    Interface 1.1V1.8V
    Interface MIPI CSI-2 serial output (4 lane / 2 lane)
    Package 124pin plastic BGA
    Package size 15.35mm x 11.68mm
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