ⓘ Sony CXD90014. BIONZ is an image processor used in Sony digital cameras. It is currently used in many of Sony α DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Image processing i ..


ⓘ Sony CXD90014

BIONZ is an image processor used in Sony digital cameras.

It is currently used in many of Sony α DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Image processing in the camera converts the raw image data from a CCD or CMOS image sensor into the format that is stored on the memory card. This processing is one of the bottlenecks in digital camera speed, so manufacturers put much effort into making, and marketing, the fastest processors for this step that they can.

Sony designs the circuitry of the processor in-house, and outsources the manufacturing to semiconductor foundries such as MegaChips and mostly GlobalFoundries, as they currently do not own any fabrication plant capable of producing System on a chip. Sony also sources DRAM chips from various manufacturers namely Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron Technology.

BIONZ utilizes two chips in its design. The first chip is a SoC System-on-a-chip that manages overall functionality of the camera such as SD card storage management, wired connection such as USB and HDMI, and wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi and NFC that are increasingly common on modern Sony α cameras. The BIONZ SoC can be identified by its part number "CXD900xx". The second chip is the ISP image signal processor. It handles the data directly from the CMOS image sensor, and it is directly responsible for the cameras high-ISO noise characteristics in a low-light environment. The ISP can be identified by the part number "CXD4xxx". However, this part number may be difficult to see.


1.1. History of BIONZ chips in Sony cameras BIONZ – MegaChips MA07170 and MA07171

The first camera to officially use a so-called BIONZ processor was the DSLR-A700 in 2007, utilizing the MA07170 chip from a MegaChips MCL family of 32-bit RISC processors with MIPS R3000 core.

Similar MegaChips processors had been used in the DSLR-A100 MA07169 as well as in the Konica Minolta 5D MA07168 and 7D MA07168, implementing Konica Minoltas CxProcess III running under MiSPOs NORTi/MIPS, an RTOS following the µITRON standard.

The MegaChips MA07170 was also used in the DSLR-A200, DSLR-A300, and DSLR-A350. The DSLR-A850 and DSLR-A900 used two such chips in parallel.

The MegaChips MA07171 was instead used in the DSLR-A230, DSLR-A290, DSLR-A330, DSLR-A380, and DSLR-A390.


1.2. History of BIONZ chips in Sony cameras BIONZ – Sony CXD4115 ISP

The first BIONZ processor to fully designed in-house by Sony utilized the Sony image processor in:

  • Unidentified - ILCE-5000, DSC-RX10, ILCA-77M2, DSC-RX100 III and DSC-RX0
  • CXD9974GG SoC with the revised CXD4115-1 ISP - DSLR-A560, DSLR-A580, SLT-A33, SLT-A35, SLT-A55 / SLT-A55V, NEX-5C, NEX-C3, and NEX-VG10 - all models from here on are Linux-based - α7, α7R, α7 II, α6000, α6500, α99, α7 III
  • CXD90027GF SoC with CXD4236-1GG ISP - α7S, α7S II, RX100 IV, Sony FDR-AX33
  • CXD4115 ISP - DSLR-A450, DSLR-A500, DSLR-A550 - still using a proprietary operating system most probably NORTi as well.
  • CXD90027GF SoC with Dual CXD4236-1GG ISP - α7R II, α7R III
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