Samsung is planning to double its production output of imaging sensors over the course of this year, Korean outlet ETNews reported earlier this week, citing sources familiar with the ambition. The Seoul-based company is said to be preparing line 13 of its Hwasung factory for a conversion that’s meant to transition its production from DRAM chips to image sensors. No specific timeframe has yet been attached to the project which won’t start until Samsung completes an identical conversion of line 11 at the same factory which started in 2017, sources claim. By itself, line 11 will be able to produce approximately 20,000 imaging sensors on a monthly basis, as per the same report. With the addition of a repurposed line 13, the original equipment manufacturer will be able to increase its output by 50,000 more units at the expense of 100,000 DRAM chips, ultimately more than doubling its image sensor production rate which currently stands at approximately 45,000 units per month, insiders believe.
The South Korean OEM overtook Intel as the world’s largest chipmaker in 2017 but it’s currently unclear whether the company is capable of retaining that title while simultaneously dethroning Sony, presently the world’s largest manufacturer of image sensors. The Japanese tech giant saw its business revitalized in recent years largely due to the performance of its imaging unit, as revealed by its latest consolidated financial report which indicated the company is on course to post the best fiscal year in its 72-year history this spring. Sony already announced plans to increase its image sensor production operations which presently have a monthly output of approximately 100,000 wafers, yet even those investments may not surpass 115,000 units, which is how much Samsung is estimated to reach following the reported repurposing of its two Hwasung-based lines.
The majority of Samsung’s smartphones still don’t use the company’s own sensors, with the latest models to feature them being the Exynos variants of the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus whose Snapdragon counterparts use Sony-made modules. The company has still been spearheading advancements in the segment, with its newest flagships being touted as some of the finest mobile photography tools to date which boast a number of unique functionalities, including the ability to shoot super slow-motion videos at 960 frames per second.