Yes Barry, the boffins at chipworks seem to know their stuff, (check their prices for a complete report on something, $26,000 I saw on one and I don’t know who pays for that and why) they do teardowns of expensive cameras (the cameras are totalled) to find and identify the origins of the components and try to nut out the specifications of them too. They seem to be of the opinion that the ‘Nikon’ sensors were fabbed by Renesas, apparently there are features in them that are key indicators as to who the most likely suspect was, just how much input Nikon has in the design is unknown, it could be a lot or it could be not so much but no one from Nikon is saying.
I think personally Nikon knows quite a lot about what makes sensors tick and probably evaluate sensor proposals fairly thoroughly, the really difficult part is being a successful technological innovator at the forefront in that field, it’s so volatile, one minute you’ve got a winning design and in the next it’s old news. The other difficult part is coming up the with USD1billion odd to build a fab, and why do that when you can shop around or even get them made to your requirements in someone else’s fab, especially when some new technology is on offer that you didn’t have to pay the r&d costs on, so I think probably Nikon are doing that part right at least.
Canon according to chipworks have been using the same type of design since the beginning so it might be getting a little long in the tooth, (I wouldn’t know) but I reckon they won’t just fade away, they’ll do something to stay on top. (the Empire Strikes Back).