According to a new supply chain report this morning, TSMC has teamed up with China-based GalaxyCore in the entry-level and mid-range CMOS image sensor (CIS) market segments, while partnering with U.S. based InVisage Technologies to supply high-end CIS. With the exclusive partnerships and orders from the two major fabless CIS suppliers, TSMC is looking to expand its presence in the CIS field, the sources indicated.
The world's top-4 CIS suppliers - Sony, Samsung, SK Hynix and Toshiba - are all IDMs, with Sony and Samsung holding key technologies and manufacturing capacities to dominate the mid- and high-end CIS market segments. For many years, dedicated foundry service providers have found themselves in an unfavorable position when trying to expand their businesses in the CIS field particularly the mid- and high-end segments.
The report further noted that "TSMC will stand a chance of growing its presence in the CIS sector by being the exclusive foundry provider of InVisage, which is working to snatch orders from Sony's customers." Of course Apple is currently a Sony customer for image sensors, so Apple will now have another supplier for CMOS Image Sensors to tap into starting in Q3 2015 and beyond.
We reported back in April that Sony plans to expand camera sensor plants to meet demand. Whether Sony will be able to retain all of Apple's image sensor business going forward is unknown at this time.