Serials2: China Semiconductor Hero Biography

China Semiconductor Hero Biography

03 Weir Invincible trident, monsters and monsters become legendary

CIS (CMOS image sensor) is the most important and core business of Weill And the proportion of three quarters of the revenue almost determines Weil’s performance and future trend. Therefore, we focus on the development trend of this business.

In fact, CCD (charge coupled device) was originally the primary choice of image sensor. But since the 1990s, CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) has been widely concerned by the industry. This due to its high speed, high resolution, low power consumption, small size, high cost performance and many other advantages. And its market share has risen year by year.

In 2015, Sony also announced that it would stop producing all chips based on CCD technology. And CMOS was determined to become the only mainstream technology of image sensors.

This year, the global CIS market has a total size of about 20 billion dollars. By 2024, it is expected that the global CMOS image sensor shipments will reach 9.11 billion, the market size will exceed 24 billion dollars, and the annual compound growth rate will be about 7%.

According to Yole’s data, the mobile phone market is still and will be the largest terminal market of CIS for a long time, accounting for 68% at present.

Therefore, we can place the hope of Weir CIS business growth in the trident of mobile phone, automobile and security, while waiting for the legendary moment of other small businesses.

 Mobile CIS: Survive in troubled times

Although the growth rate of CMOS image sensor mobile phone market has slowed down, less than 5%, its stock is large, accounting for 68% of the total CIS market, so it is still a major contributor in terms of revenue.

From the current pattern, Sony has occupied half of the mobile phone CIS market, but its share has declined from more than 55% in the first half of 2019 to 46%, Samsung has maintained a stable state of about 30%, and Howell has slowly increased to 10%.

From the perspective of the industry development trend, mobile phone manufacturers are willing to improve their camera capabilities to meet the user’s photo experience and phone purchase needs.

Therefore, the trend of smart phones taking more photos and high pixels is very obvious. The camera upgrade of high-end flagship computers is still big bottom+high pixels. Medium and low-end models are also pursuing high pixels while paying attention to product cost performance.

Howell adopts a differentiated competitive strategy in this field, and deepens its 32M-64M market, which is 32 million to 64 million pixels. Its customers are mainly mainstream Android manufacturers such as Huawei, Xiaomi, oppo, vivo and LG.

In April 2020, Howell launched the world’s first 0.7 micron pixel size, 64M pixel CMOS image sensor OV64B. It is leading the industry’s pixel size upgrade, widely used in high-end flagship models of Xiaomi and Huawei. And becoming the mainstream solution for Android’s mid tier high pixel models;

In May 2021, on the basis of the previous generation. Howell will launch an image sensor OV60A with 0.61 μ m pixel size and 60M pixels. Which can save battery life when used with the mobile phone’s AI function.

In the next few years, under the trend of clear division of labor for mobile phone rear camera. Sony, Samsung and Howell all have their own advantages and characteristics in some subdivisions of mobile phone CIS technology fields.Therefore, it is reasonable to speculate that Howell can maintain a 10% share and protect its own party’s stability in the troubled world of multi-party warfare.

Automobile CIS:Dragon Slaughtering and Heaven Reliance, and Wulin Shuangzun

The automobile CIS can be used in the driving assistance system (ADAS), camera monitoring system (CMS), omnidirectional view system (SVS), etc. Which will usher in a major opportunity under the trend of intelligent+automatic driving. It will probably become the second growth curve of the CIS industry in the next few years when the mobile phone CIS slows down, which is extremely critical to the future development of major industry manufacturers.

As the requirements for stability and security of car chips are much higher than those of consumer chips. Such as mobile phones, the unit price of car CIS with the same pixel size is generally higher than that of mobile phones; And the car camera is moving from low definition to high-definition; And from the low end to the middle and high end. The unit value of car CIS is gradually increasing. Which is expected to rise from the current $4-5 to $6-8.

We can seethat the increase in the number of cameras, combined with the increase in the value. And the global automobile production is stable between 80 million and 100 million vehicles. The automobile CIS market is expect to reach $5 billion in 3-5 years, with an annual growth rate of about 30%. If we look at it a little longer, when the automatic driving reaches L4~L5 level, the automobile CIS will be a 10 billion dollar market.

From the perspective of market pattern, at present, Ansomy is the largest, with a share of 60%.

However, such a pattern is difficult to maintain stability in such a high growth market.

In terms of specific technologies and products, Howell has many years of experience and special advantages in high dynamic range (HDR), LED flicker suppression (LFM), Nyxel near-infrared technology, PureCel Plus-S stacked pixel architecture and other automotive CIS technologies.

In June 2020, Howell introduced the world’s smallest car wafer level camera – OVM9284 Camera Cube Chip module. Which can provide one-stop service for driver monitoring hardware, reduce power consumption by more than 50%, and also have high-quality imaging performance in a dark environment;

Security CIS:Seeking defeat alone, never meeting the enemy

From 2016 to 2020, the market size of security CIS will increase from 360 million dollars to 870 million dollars. It is estimated that in the next five years. It will still maintain a medium to high growth rate of 15% – 20%.

Seen from the market pattern, the sales volume of Stevie is the highest, reaching 35%. However, because it is dominated by low-end products, the sales volume only accounts for 23%.

Howell has a great advantage in the security CIS field. Its products cover 1080P to 4K. The middle end market is stable. It has won big customers Hikvision and Dahua, and the high-end market is also closely following Sony.


In the medical field, endoscopes mainly use CIS. The endoscope is mainly composed of three systems, namely, the endoscope system, the image display system, and the lighting system. The corresponding core technologies are image acquisition, image post-processing, and lighting methods. CIS is one of the core components of image acquisition technology.

In October 2019, Howell released OVM6948 products. This products can be used in small diameter medical endoscopes and catheters. And it breaking the Guinness world record for “the smallest commercial image sensor”.

In September 2020, Howell introduced the world’s first medical RGB IR image sensor OH02A1S.  Significantly improved patient treatment comfort, effectively assisted cancer detection and diagnosis procedures. And became a new breakthrough for disposable endoscopes in the industry;

In the VR/AR field, we have said before that Meta, the original Facebook. It has become a large-scale consumer product of Oculus Quest 2. While Weir executives have said that Meta is also a customer of Howell.

At present, Howell Technology has established the world’s first 12 inch LCOS silicon based LCD projection display chip production line. And Howell has achieved small batch production, preparing for a huge market space in the future. If the future comes, preparation will turn into opportunities.

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