AMOLED


2022-05-09

Google Confirms Acquisition of Micro LED Startup Raxium, Obtaining Key Technology for AR Displays

(TechNews) Google confirmed on May 4th that it has acquired Raxium, a start-up company with Micro LED display technology, which is expected to become key in Google’s mission to create a new generation of AR displays.

Google senior vice president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh, who leads the development of Google’s hardware products, stated that Raxium has spent five years creating a small, cost-effective, and energy-efficient high-resolution display that lays the foundation for future display technologies, adding, this company’s technology in this field could play a key role in Google’s hardware investments. Raxium, headquartered in Fremont, California, will be merged into Google’s devices and services group in the future but he did not disclose the purchase price or other details.

According to Raxium’s official website, the pixel pitch of s Super AMOLED screen on a mobile phone is approximately 50 microns but the company’s Micro LED technology can achieve approximately 3.5 microns and it claims to be able to create unprecedented display efficiency.

When foreign media, The Information, reported last month and first exposed Google’s plan to acquire Raxium, it pointed out that Micro LED technology can create AR displays that are more energy-efficient than other solutions while retaining vivid colors. In addition, Raxium is working on the monolithic integration of Micro LEDs, which is expected to significantly reduce costs.

This move makes Google’s plans for subsequent AR hardware products increasingly clear. Google acquired glasses startup North in 2020 and is reportedly recruiting engineers to develop an operating system for AR displays. It was revealed by foreign media in January this year that Google’s laboratory is developing a head-mounted AR device code-named “Project Iris” which is under the same management as “Project Starline” shown at the Google I/O 2021 developer conference last year.

(Source: https://technews.tw/2022/05/05/google-acquires-raxium/)

2021-06-22

Tight Supply of Smartphone AMOLED DDI Likely to Limit Future Growth of AMOLED Panel Market, Says TrendForce

Thanks to the increased adoption of AMOLED panels by major smartphone brands including Apple and Samsung, the penetration rate of AMOLED panels in the smartphone market is expected to reach 39.8% in 2021 and 45% in 2022, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. As AMOLED panels see increased adoption, the consumption of AMOLED DDI will undergo a corresponding increase as well. However, not only are the process technologies used for AMOLED DDI manufacturing currently in short supply, but some foundries are also yet to finalize their schedules for expanding their AMOLED DDI production capacities. Given the lack of sufficient production capacity, the increase in AMOLED panel shipment may potentially be constrained next year.

Regarding process technologies, the physical dimension of AMOLED DDI chips is generally larger compared to other chips, meaning each wafer yields relatively fewer AMOLED DDI chips, and more wafer inputs are therefore needed for their production. The vast majority of AMOLED DDI is currently manufactured with the 40nm and 28nm medium-voltage (8V) process technologies. In particular, as 40nm capacity across the foundry industry is in tighter supply compared to 28nm capacity, and TSMC, Samsung, UMC, and GlobalFoundries are the only foundries capable of mass producing AMOLED DDI, an increasing number of new wafer starts for AMOLED DDI are being migrated to the 28nm node instead.

Regarding wafer supply, the foundry industry is currently unable to fulfill client demand for 12-inch wafers. Hence, 12-inch capacities allocated to AMOLED DDI production are relatively limited as well. At the moment, only TSMC, Samsung, and UMC are able to allocate relatively adequate wafer capacities, although their capacity expansion efforts are still falling short of growing market demand. In addition, while SMIC, HLMC, and Nexchip are developing their respective AMOLED DDI process technologies, they have yet to confirm any mass production schedules. TrendForce therefore expects that the additional AMOLED DDI capacities to be installed next year will remain scarce, in turn further limiting the potential growth of the AMOLED panel market.

AMOLED DDI suppliers must overcome the issues of limited production capacity and technological difficulties in R&D

Other than the issue of tight production capacities, the difficulty of AMOLED DDI development is further compounded by the fact that each panel manufacturer has its unique specifications of AMOLED panels. For instance, panel manufacturers differ in terms of their display image uniformity (including the calibration of on-screen picture quality via eliminating display clouding, poor color/brightness compensation, and sandy mura). Hence, in order to address the discrepancies among panels manufactured by different companies, IC suppliers must adopt different compensating solutions and account for different parameters. Panel manufacturers therefore are likelier to adopt DDI from IC suppliers whose solutions have already been in mass production.

If prospective IC suppliers were to enter the AMOLED DDI market, they would need to overcome various difficulties in AMOLED DDI development, including long processes of validation and revision, in order to mass produce at scale. As well, each individual panel supplier requires its own different set of IP cores (referring to the various functional modules in an IC) and specifications, making it difficult to manufacture AMOLED DDI that is universally compatible with all AMOLED panels. For instance, ICs that are supplied to Korean panel manufacturers by AMOLED DDI suppliers are incompatible with AMOLED panels from Chinese panel manufacturers, which require new wafer starts with their own requirements.

On the whole, other than certain DDI suppliers which have their own subsidiary foundries or have longstanding foundry partners capable of DDI production, TrendForce believes that fabless AMOLED DDI suppliers must not only secure a stable and sufficient source of foundry capacity, but also possess sufficient technological competency for mass production, in order to successfully expand their presence in the AMOLED DDI market.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at vivieliu@trendforce.com

2021-06-21

iPhone Production for 2021 Projected to Reach 223 Million Units Due to Increased Vaccinations and Impending Easing of Lockdowns in the US/Europe, Says TrendForce

This year, the US and Europe, which are Apple’s main markets for iPhone devices, are seeing an easing of the pandemic and expecting an economic recovery. Furthermore, Apple is expected to benefit from Huawei’s abandonment of some market share for high-end smartphones, and the sales of the new iPhone devices in 2H21 will likely be boosted thanks to this development. On the whole, the outlook on Apple’s performance in the smartphone market for the whole year is positive, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Although the ongoing capacity crunch in the foundry industry will have a constraining effect on Apple in terms of ramping up its iPhone production and growing its market share in the future, TrendForce is still maintaining a cautiously optimistic view and forecasts that the annual total iPhone smartphone production for 2021 will grow by around 12.3% YoY to 223 million units, with additional room for a slight growth going forward.

Apple will prioritize the optimization of existing functions with the iPhone 12s series, while retail prices are expected to remain on par with last year’s release of iPhone 12 models

Apple plans to unveil the next generation of iPhones, tentatively called the iPhone 12s series (official name has yet to be revealed), in September 2021, and the smartphone market has placed the spotlight on the new handsets’ physical appearances as well as retail prices. Regarding the general outward appearance of the upcoming iPhone devices, the notch on top of the screen will shrink due to the decreased size of their sensor housings. Apart from this, other upgrades will mostly relate to the optimization of existing functions and features. All in all, the degree of innovation is not particularly significant in terms of appearance, and the four new models can be regarded as an extension to the iPhone 12 series. Because of this, TrendForce also believes that Apple will continue the proactive pricing strategy that it adopted in 2020 so as to maintain its market share for high-end smartphones. Even though prices of some key components have risen due to tightening supply, Apple is taking into account of the growth in the revenue of peripheral services in relation to the growth of iPhone sales. This means that the starting price of the upcoming iPhone series will likely be relatively on par with the starting price of the iPhone 12 series.

For the latest iPhone models, Apple has made certain upgrades to the handsets. TrendForce here summarizes the key components of the latest iPhone models, including the processor, display, memory, and camera. The iPhone 12s series will feature the A15 processors manufactured at TSMC’s 5nm+ node. Regarding the display, the new models will be equipped with flexible AMOLED panels with On-cell touchscreen technology; the two Pro models will also feature a 120Hz refresh rate. Judging by the iPhone 12s series’ starting prices as well as the differences among various models’ retail prices, TrendForce expects the new handsets’ memory capacities to remain the same as their iPhone 12 counterparts. On the camera front, Apple has upgraded all iPhone 12s handsets’ main cameras to include sensor-shift image stabilization technologies. For the Pro models, not only are their ultra-wide cameras now equipped with 6P lens (which is an upgrade over the previous generation), but they are also capable of autofocus functions. Notably, it should be pointed out that LiDAR scanners are available in the Pro models only.

On the whole, TrendForce expects the latest iPhone devices to account for about 39% of Apple’s total annual production volume for 2021. As all iPhone 12s handsets contain 5G modems, the share of 5G models in the overall iPhone production is projected to expand massively from 39% in 2020 to 75% in 2021. Furthermore, Apple is expected to focus on driving sales of the three non-mini models in the iPhone 12s series in view of the fact that the iPhone 12 mini (which reached End-of-Life ahead of time in 2Q21) suffered disappointing sales performances compared to other models in the iPhone 12 family.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-03-16

AMOLED Models to Reach 39% Penetration Rate in Smartphone Market in 2021 Owing to Competitive Prices for Mid-Range Segment, Says TrendForce

Among the various display technologies used for smartphones in 2021, AMOLED models are expected to account for a 39% penetration, thanks to smartphone brands’ increasing adoption of this technology, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In the entry-level and mid-range segments, the smartphone demand for a-Si LCD models remains strong, although this technology’s penetration rate is expected to undergo a slight decrease to 28%. On the other hand, LTPS LCD models are continuing to lose market share to competing technologies, resulting in a 33% penetration rate, while LTPS HD LCD models will occupy a growing share of this segment.

TrendForce indicates that smartphone brands’ procurement activities for components in 2H20 will persist throughout 2021 for two reasons: First, the industry on the whole expects demand for smartphones to ramp up considerably this year. Second, production capacities across the entire semiconductor supply chain have been tight, with some segments even showing severe shortage, thus prompting downstream clients such as smartphone brands to stock up on certain components in order to mitigate the potential risk associated with component shortages.

With regards to the development of smartphone display technologies, panel suppliers have been regaining client orders for rigid AMOLED panels through aggressive pricing since 2H20. Owing to increased adoption by smartphone brands this year, rigid AMOLED models are expected to maintain a strong market presence in the mid-range and premium mid-range segments. Flexible AMOLED models, on the other hand, will likely dominate the high-end and flagship segments. Going forward, AMOLED models will gradually cannibalize the market shares of LTPS LCD models in the mid-range and premium mid-range segments, in turn forcing LTPS LCD models into a lower price segment.

Market demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphones, especially for HD models, has remained strong since 2020, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the supply of key components in these smartphones (including a-Si LCD panels as well as DDI and TDDI ICs) has been in shortage in light of the foundry industry’s tight production capacities. As prices of a-Si LCD panels and ICs spiked, panel suppliers saw this upturn as the perfect opportunity to fulfill the existing demand for a-Si products with LTPS products and in turn expend their production capacity for LTPD LCD panels. Smartphone brands began adopting a-Si HD and LTPS HD LCD panels interchangeably in an increasing number of models, thus giving TDDI ICs flexibility to be used in a greater number of compatible handsets.

At the moment, IC supply remains the greatest bottleneck in the overall smartphone supply chain; case in point, TDDI supply is tight to the point of shortage. TrendForce believes that two key factors will exert significant influence over the smartphone panel industry going forward: First, Chinese IC design companies are likely to obtain wafer input priorities in Chinese foundries thanks to government policies. These IC design companies may potentially experience considerable growth as a result and disrupt the predominant oligopoly of Taiwanese IC design companies in the smartphone panel market. Second, once the ongoing capacity expansion effort of Chinese foundries concludes, their additional production capacities will alleviate the current shortage of IC supplies, with IC prices subsequently entering a downward trajectory. As a result of lowered IC prices, the relationship between LTPS HD panels and a-Si HD panels will likely shift from complementary to competitive, with both product categories struggling for dominance in the HD smartphone model segment.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at vivieliu@trendforce.com

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