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Interview: Sony Announces End of CCD Sensor Production

Sony has announced that it will stop production of all CCD-sensors as of March 2017. We spoke with Michael Cyros, Chief Commercial Officer of Allied Vision, about the impact of that decision for the machine vision industry and Allied Vision customers.

Mike, are you surprised by Sony’s decision to stop CCD sensor production?
Not really. Many in the industry had expected this to happen sooner or later. As you know, CMOS sensors have become more and more popular in the last couple of years. With greatly improved image quality, sensitivity, dynamic range and speeds, they have outpaced CCD technology of late. Sony’s decision is a logical step in that context to provide further capacity for CMOS growth.

As a user of Allied Vision cameras with Sony CCD sensors, should I worry about the availability of my cameras?
Not in the short term or even in the mid-term. Sony announced that they will stop production two years from now and still ship CCD sensors until March 2020 based on indicated demands. So we are talking about a five-year horizon, which means that many imaging systems currently in use today will have reached the end of their natural life cycle before that anyway. However, we know that our customers rely on us to be a long-term stable and reliable supply partner, and we take our commitment to that expectation seriously.We at Allied Vision will work with our customers and Sony to evaluate long-term needs and secure volumes to serve them.

Allied Vision has many camera models with Sony CCD sensors. What do you intend to do?
It is true that we have many Sony CCD sensors in our portfolio, but you will also notice that this mainly applies to older camera generations. In our latest camera models, we have strongly diversified our sensor technologies and vendors with CCD and CMOS sensors from Sony, CMOSIS, e2v and OnSemi so we are well prepared to offer our customers a wide range of options that take advantage of these latest sensor offerings in the direction of CMOS.

As stated earlier, reliability and long-term partnership are core values of Allied Vision and we don’t want to leave customers currently using Sony CCD sensors alone with that situation. As you can imagine, as a world-leading camera manufacturers we have a very close relationship with Sony and we are currently working with them on the implications of that decision for our business. We will work with our customers to evaluate their long term supply needs, so that we build in all contingencies to insure we can maintain a reliable supply to them. We have enough time to organize that transition in a structured and professional way.

What would you advise system integrators and users to do?
First of all: don’t panic. No deliveries are endangered in the short or mid term. Then, evaluate the expected lifetime of systems in place using cameras with Sony CCD sensors and your needs for deliveries over that life cycle. We will contact our impacted customers individually to find the right solution for their situation.

For new developments, I’d strongly recommend system integrators and developers to ask Allied Vision for the best solution to their imaging needs. Our expert staff know which sensor and camera model is best suited to to each individual requirement.

In any cases where a longer term ongoing supply of existing Sony CCD sensor based cameras might be required, work closely with us to insure we understand your needs so that we can insure an availability of supply to meet those identified needs for our customers’ foreseeable product life-cycles.