Toshiba announced today its new 8MP CMOS BSI sensor, codenamed T4KA3, that can record video at up to 240fps, currently the highest frame rate in the industry. The new sensor, which can be used for both smartphones and tablets, is now being sampled to manufacturers.
Shooting video at such a high frame rate in 720p HD (eight times the regular 30fps, but many smartphone sensors are already offering 60fps 720p recording) puts a toll on the power consumption and on how much light the sensor can capture in each frame, resulting in underexposed videos.
To solve these two issues, Toshiba has reduced power consumption by 85 percent compared to its previous T4K35 sensor and has increased how much light can be captured in each frame by four times, using a technology Toshiba calls "Bright Mode." The comparisons are for 30fps recording, but these significant improvements should put the new T4KA3 sensor more in line with previous generations in terms of power consumption and exposure when recording at much higher frame rates.
The reason Toshiba has gone for such a high frame rate sensor is because ever since the iPhone 5S came out with slow-motion video recording, there has been increased demand for such sensors. The T4KA3 offers twice the frame rate of the iPhone 5S while shooting in 720p HD, which means the videos can be played back twice as slowly. The sensor should allow for a high degree of flexibility, and it will be up to the device manufacturers to implement its various features in software. High-speed 30fps burst photo shooting is also possible for action scenes, as well as 1080p at 60fps smooth video recording and 4k recording at 30fps.
At ¼" in size, the T4KA3 is one of the smallest 8MP sensors that supports HDR for scenes with high contrast. It also supports 8Kbit OTP (One Time Programmable read-only memory) that can store two conditions of lens shading correction data.
This new Toshiba sensor should be available for mass production by April of next year, and Toshiba is prepared to sell up to 8 million of them per month. Since it has a relatively low resolution by today's flagship standards, the sensor will most likely target higher-volume mid-range devices.