Sony has announced that it has developed the world’s first image sensor equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) processing. The new image sensor will have a configuration consisting of a pixel chip and a logic chip. The logic chip, called Sony’s Digital Signal Processor (DSP), is dedicated to processing the AI signal, as well as the memory of the AI model.
Sony says the DSP eliminates the need for additional hardware, such as high-performance processors or external memory, which makes it “ideal for advanced AI systems.” Using AI, Sony explains that the sensor is also capable of producing metadata – semantic information belonging to image data – instead of image information, which should lead to reduced data volume and responds to confidentiality concerns.
For practical applications, Sony indicated that the image sensor logic chip allows it to send data for each individual output image for AI processing in a single video image. “This design allows high-precision, real-time tracking of objects during video recording,” said the management of the Japanese giant during the presentation of this new chip.
Available in June
Note that its users can also write their own AI models in the on-board memory according to their needs or the conditions of the place where the system is used. “For example, when several cameras using this product are installed in a store, only one type of camera can be used in a versatile way in different places, circumstances, times or objectives,” said the Asian firm.
The pixel chip itself is backlit, contains 12.3 effective megapixels and is 1.55 μm x 1.55 μm. It can shoot at 60 frames per second (fps) in full screen, as well as 4k in 60 fps and 1080p in 240 fps for videos. The AI-equipped image sensor will come in two forms, either as a bare chip (IMX500) or as a ceramic package (IMX501). The sample version of the bare chip has been available since April and the packaged sample version should be available in June.
Despite the new coronavirus epidemic affecting supply chains around the world, Sony said in March that its imaging and detection solutions segment has had no “material impact”. The tech giant’s management, however, said that the sale of sensors could be affected by a possible slowdown in the smartphone market and that its electronics business had been hampered by supply chain problems stemming from the epidemic.