We haven’t heard much about Canon’s increased investment in its own chip fab – a multi-billion dollar capital investment triggered prior to the current chip supply woes. Now word comes that the new Hiratsuka fab will be running in July of 2023. That is probably in time to start churning out R1 sensors, which – while rumor sites frequently indicate will come sooner – is more likely to be released on Canon’s typical 4-year cycle for flagship cameras.
Expectations for the R1 include major sensor leaps, including perhaps a global shutter, perhaps quad-pixel AF, possibly a narrower etching process with fabrication allowing for the inclusion of additional Canon patent hijinx in the sensor without suffering from additional heat and noise. It is thought that some of these technologies would require new manufacturing lines to produce in-house.
Early musings from Canon regarding the R3 had included indications that they were to produce that sensor in-house, but when it appeared in writing on the Canon UK website – one of the earlier countries to start talking details about the R3 – it appears to have been forced to backtrack, denying that the sensors would necessarily be cooked up within Canon’s walls. Whether a chip is made in-house appears to be more a matter of pride than practicality, but having your own fab does allow for the inclusion of some kinds of innovative technologies that can’t simply be parted out to an outsourced fab.