Sony has announced the development of a 3-layer stacked CMOS sensor for smartphones, making super slow motion video possible at up to 1000 frames per second in Full HD (1920×1080 pixels). The new image sensor has an additional DRAM layer added to the conventional 2-layer stacked CMOS sensor that delivers very fast data readout speeds, almost four times faster (1/120 sec for a 19.3-megapixel image) than conventional image sensors for smartphones.
Acting as a temporary buffer for image data recorded at high speeds and enabling data to then be output at an optimal speed to a conventional image signal processor, the DRAM layer reduces the time lapsed for reading each pixel line, making the sensor capable of reading one still image of 19.3-megapixels in 1/120 of a second. This enables high-speed capture. It also enables the image sensor to capture still images of fast moving subjects with minimal focal plane distortion, a problem specific to CMOS imaging sensors where pixel signals are read one line at a time.
Both normal speed shooting data and up to 1000 fps high-speed shooting data stored on the DRA< are exported from the image sensor for signal processing on an external image signal processor, making it possible to seamlessly combine normal speed movies and super slow motion movies. Sony says it is even possible to adjust settings so that sudden subject movement is automatically detected, triggering off high-speed recording.
The sensor also promises to lower the noise generated between the circuits on each layer. It is hard to not be impressed by the sample footage Sony has released giving us a preview of what the image sensor is capable of.