BIONZ is a line of image processors used in Sony digital cameras.
It is currently used in many Sony α DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Image processing in the camera converts the raw 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 a system on a chip (SoC). 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 an SoC 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 camera's high-ISO noise characteristics in a low-light environment. The ISP can be identified by the part number "CXD4xxx".
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 Minolta's CxProcess III running under MiSPO's 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.
The first BIONZ processor to fully designed in-house by Sony utilized the Sony image processor in:
Sony CXD4132 series chip is a multicore BIONZ processor:
Sony has introduced their next-generation image processor dubbed the BIONZ X with introduction of ILCE-7 / ILCE-7R in 2013. BIONZ X uses Sony CXD4236 series ISP along with CXD90027GF SoC. The latter is based on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A5 architecture, and is utilized to run Android apps on top of the Linux kernel.
It features, among other things, detail reproduction technology and diffraction-reducing technology, area-specific noise reduction and 16-bit image processing + 14-bit raw output. It can process up to 20 frames per second and features Lock-on AF and object tracking.
Sony has introduced its next-generation image processor dubbed the BIONZ XR with the introduction of Sony α7S III in 2020. "The sensor is to have eight times as much computing power as the previous image processor." It is also used in the Sony α1 flagship mirrorless camera, the Sony FX6, Sony FX3 compact cinema camera and Sony α7 IV mirrorless camera launched in 2021.
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