SONY PREGIUS TECHNOLOGY - CMOS GLOBAL SHUTTER
Introduction to the SONY® Pregius™ Series
THE LAUNCH OF THE SONY'S PREGIUS TECHNOLOGY SERIES IN LATE 2013 MARKED A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF IMAGE SENSORS.
Its outstanding performance, success, and large consumer capacity were among some of the triggers resulting in Sony’s decision to shut down their CCD sensor development and production, despite their technology and market leadership. The Pregius technology series combines the image quality from its technology with high readout speeds, an electronic global shutter and the low noise EXview HAD II Technology from the CCD designs.
Thanks to latest advances in wafer production techniques and pixel design, today’s professional grade CMOS image sensors outperform CCD’s in both speed and image quality. They are now also capable to start and stop the light exposure time for all pixels simultaneously, (known as global shutter). CMOS sensor technology has continued to evolve with unprecedented advances in resolution, frame rate, sensitivity, readout-noise, high dynamic range, and control features that enable new applications in industrial imaging.
Pregius and Pregius S are the registered trademarks of Sony Group Corporation or its affiliates.
Pregius is a global shutter pixel technology based on Sony’s low-noise CCD structure. Active pixel CMOS image sensors used in these products produce highquality images.
This technology was named Pregius to represent the combination of the low-noise performance of CCD with the high-speed and high-precision performance (Precision GS) of global shutter (GS) required by FA applications.
One of the building blocks of the technology is the digitization of the pixel data early in the transfer process. This minimizes the amount of additional noise that is accumulated as the image data travels around within the sensor, even at high speed. To further improve the noise response of the sensor, correlated double sampling (CDS), a technique borrowed from CCD design, is implemented on either side of the ADC (analog to digital conversion) and cancels out the noise in the signals, ensuring the accuracy of the digitized data.
These sensors now feature a pixel architecture with high quantum efficiency (QE), known as the conversion ratio of arriving photons into electron charges captured within the pixel’s photosensitive area. Greater QE leads to a stronger electric signal and thus to better sensitivity.
Pixels within Pregius technology sensors have an
increased well depth, enabling them to capture and hold more electrons before saturating. This provides higher dynamic range of achievable pixel values, when combined with ADCs with more digitization bits, while also increasing its sensitivity to longer NIR (near infrared) wavelengths.
Sony has optimized the technology over many years and product generations. It features unrivaled image quality, even at very short exposure times or under diminished lighting conditions.
Sony's Pregius Technology Portfolio
Download our latest Sony Pregius Brochure to get a detailled overview and full insights of the Pregius Technology Portfolio.
Sony's Global Shutter CMOS Generation
The Sony’s Pregius technology series of Global Shutter CMOS sensors has evolved over several product generations. Each one features similar pixel architectures and readout circuits. Individual improvements were introduced with each new generation but so did some trade-offs between pixel size, saturation capacity, and sensor size. Therefore, specific application requirements will determine the best generation to use.
Pixel size (µm)
3.45 / 6.9
4.5 / 9
2.4M 10 bit
5.1M 10 bit
7.1M 10 bit
8.1M 10 bit
Max. output (Gbps)
Unique Requirements Call for Unique Sensors
All Sony sensors in a Pregius technology generation share similar pixel architectures so they supply comparable imag quality. As some applications are less dependent on speed and control features, the Sony’s Pregius technology Series offers sensor variants with reduced frame rates and feature sets. Leading-edge machine vision applications require high speed, fully featured sensors with ITS and traffic, and standard machine vision can settle for a lower cost, lowspeed variant with reduced feature set. Some global shutter modules are designed specifically for video recording that has unique features needed for high-end video captures in areas of research, monitoring, or broadcasting.
These flagship sensors combine the outstanding image quality, innovative pixel architectures and advanced readout circuitry with leading edge data interface protocol and cutting-edge features
- Analog-digital conversion with 8, 10, or 12 bit
- Exposure time control: external trigger pulses can define light accumulation times
- Trigger output: signals indicating sensor status during shutter operation for synchronization with peripheral circuitry
- Fast trigger mode: reduced delay between trigger and exposure
- Multi-exposure mode: single trigger pulses initiate a sequence of image captures
- Sequencer: Series of 2/4 frames can be captured after single trigger, with user selectable exposure time, gain, and ROIs for each frame in the sequence.
- Regions of Interest: Field of view of the sensors can be cropped into 16 / 64 overlapping regions of interest.
Applications looking for reduced speed and features sets can benefit from these costeffective models, without sacrificing image quality
- Analog-digital conversion at 12 bit
- Regions of Interest: 1
- Sequencer with 2 / 4 frames with different exposure times and gains
- Trigger modes: fast, self, dual
To simply record or visualize moving objects, the following sensor models offer their global shutter functionality to obtain blur-free, color only, image captures. Their frame rates match common video standards.
- 2-frame set output mode: Recording of two consecutive frames at different exposure times, externally merged into one picture, for wide dynamic range imaging.
- Regions of Interest: All-pixel scan or Full-HD mode
Inspection tasks that require only monochromatic images with fixed bit depth per pixel can benefit from the low data rates provided by these sensors, and lower cost, smaller processors. These sensors are key for keeping costs low for small, embedded vision systems.
More IoT and embedded vision-based applications are looking for compact sensor sizes at higher resolutions. These devices need to be connected to embedded processors directly through common interfaces. System designers have standardized on MIPI CSI-2 for their vision data interface. These sensors can be directly connected and controlled by advanced embedded processors for simpler designs and integrations.
Pregius technology generations
1ST GENERATION - 2.4 Megapixels
IMX174 / IMX249 / IMX302
While the IMX174 was introduced in 2013, it is still a class leading sensor in performance while marking a milestone in Machine Vision history. The IMX174 captures full frame images at 1936 x 1216 resolution, running at 164.5 fps with 10 bits/pixel. In Full-HD, the sensor delivers 180 fps, perfect for slow motion playback. The very large 5.86 μm pixel pitch and 1/1.2″ format provides crisp images. This sensor and its low- peed companion, the IMX249, fulfill the requirements of a large variety of machine vision applications that once used slow megapixel CCDbased sensors.
Its large pixel size and per pixel micro-lenses ensure high quantum efficiencies and a full well capacity of electrons.
The maximum data rate of the IMX174 is at 4,752 Gbps, pairing well with the USB 3.2 data bandwidth. By reducing this sensor’s frame rates by half or a quarter, it can also be targeted for various machine vision applications looking to integrate GigE or dualGigE interfaces. Short bursts at full speed can be buffered internally to the camera which can then be slowly transferred across these slower data interfaces. Running the IMX249 at its maximum frame rate of 30 fps at 12 bit delivers 1,188 Mbps aligns well for continuous recording with Gigabit Ethernet based platforms.
The high sensitivity and large full well capacity combine well to ensure that both light and dark areas are accurately captured within one image. This wide dynamic range is beneficial for application such as fast and precise localization of laser lines in 3D profilometry or for the inspection of shiny surfaces with glare and/or specular surfaces. Traffic applications need to also deal with challenging lighting conditions caused by headlights at night or sun reflections. These sensors deliver high contrasted images need by the applications for vehicle number plate recognition in automatic tolling, car access control or traffic law enforcement.
IMX302 (only color)
Pixel pitch [µm]
[fps at Bits per Pixel]
High-end Manufacturing Automation and Logistics
Production managers are under constant pressure to increase their facilities’ output quality and productivity while simultaneously reducing the total costs of their manufacturing lines. Adding to this challenge, the new Industry 4.0 revolution is demanding for utmost flexibility in production and logistics. The high speed, resolution, image quality and the rich feature set of Sony’s Pregius technology line of sensors provides unprecedented opportunities to build very flexible machine vision systems that supply a high accuracy and throughput at moderate costs.
Features and Benefits:
High Resolution Rates
Compactness of the fourth-generation’s pixel architecture provides up to approx. 25 MP images with high sensitivity to be used with a C-mount sized lens and in typical industrial cameras with 29×29 mm footprint.
Access control, passport validation, and optical inspection of personal identification devices are a few of the various imaging applications in the security sector. The better the images captured, the more reliable is the verification processes of retinas, finger, and palm prints, ID cards, or bank notes.
Features and Benefits:
Sports and Entertainment
This broad application field has rapidly evolved over the last few years. Sports like basketball, soccer, baseball, and hockey, require continuous tracking of players and equipment for real-time analysis and rule enforcement. High speed, high frame rate video can be slowed to better show fast moving objects or players providing fascinating and insightful views for audiences which can then be further augmented with overlays and virtual reality artifacts that provide more detailed analysis of the scenes or actions.
Features and Benefits:
Intelligent Traffic Systems and Transportation
Vision systems play a pivotal role in the management and monitoring of ever-increasing traffic volumes and the growing complexity in transportation and traffic safety. In cities with scarce parking resources or need to monitor public transport, image processing can help.
Features and Benefits:
Demands in the growing CCTV market are shifting to higher resolutions and higher frame rates in part thanks to new efficient video compression standards. The needs for capturing larger scenes are more dominant now and need to be captured with greater detail for robust face and license plate recognition.
Features and Benefits: