[New] The Reality of Micro LED Unveiled – Infinite Opportunities, Yet Initial Capacity Demand Remains Low


Ennostar, a Taiwanese group focusing on the R&D and manufacturing of Micro LED, LED and compound semiconductor, has announced on January 19th a NTD 670 million (roughly USD 21.36 million) sale of the planned Micro LED production facility in Zhunan, Taiwan.

Its subsidiary, EPISTAR, is anticipated to expedite Micro LED development by integrating existing resources in alternative locations.

According to TechNews’ report, Chin-Yung Fan, chairman of EPISTAR, anticipates “symbolic revenue” from Micro LED starting this year. He notes that in 2021, with the rise of Micro LED and Mini LED, existing facilities were insufficient. While planning to build new facilities based on customer demand and market predictions, the pandemic delayed many new technologies.

Following the integration of Ennostar’s factory resources, which are now available for EPISTAR’s use, the decision has been made to sell the Zhunan facility.

During an earnings call in 2023, Ennostar mentioned that the initial capacity demand for Micro LED is still low. Consequently, the company has slightly postponed its plans for new production capacity and will closely monitor the actual market demand.

Fan also emphasized that the volume of Micro LED will undoubtedly increase, and the significant symbolic revenue is expected around 2027, given the longer evaluation time for Micro LED in automotive applications.

However, the sale of Ennostar’s factory also highlights the delayed mass production of Micro LED. Currently, Micro LED is primarily used in large display products like TVs and small displays for smartwatches.

AUO, a Taiwanese company that specializes in optoelectronic solutions, commenced Micro LED production at the end of last year, supplying to high-end smartwatch clients, expected to achieve cost efficiency.

As for Samsung and LG, they view Micro LED TVs as a core market, aiming to enhance profitability through positioning them as high-end television options. At CES 2024, Samsung showcased a transparent Micro LED screen, reaffirming the potential of Micro LED as the next-generation display technology. However, due to the high unit price, mass adoption in the consumer market is currently limited.

Furthermore, despite being a key industry influencer, Apple has not yet integrated Micro LED into its product roadmap. Notably, the Vision Pro, currently available for pre-orders, opts for Micro OLED instead, signaling that the practical implementation of Micro LED in products may still be some time away.

Although it will take some time for mass production to ramp up, Taiwanese manufacturers are actively laying the groundwork for Micro LED technology. Major Micro LED manufacturers, such as PlayNitride, have signed production line construction contracts with EPISTAR and AUO.

EPISTAR has completed construction by the end of last year, while AUO is expected to have production capacity by the end of next year. Both AUO and Innolux, under the umbrella of the CarUX initiative, showcased Micro LED automotive technology at this year’s CES.

Innolux has also purchased a significant amount of transfer equipment from PlayNitride, further enhancing the completeness of the Taiwanese Micro LED supply chain.

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(Photo credit: AUO)

Please note that this article cites information from TechNews.


[News] Samsung Semiconductor to Take Over Samsung Micro LED Business


Lately, according to South Korean media’s reports, Samsung Electronics has decided that the Samsung Display division will be responsible for all OLED microdisplay projects, while Samsung Semiconductor Inc.(SSI), the Samsung Compound Semiconductor Solutions team, will be in charge of the development of all Micro LED microdisplay projects, the area which is primarily applied in AR glasses with higher display requirements.

It is reported that Samsung considers OLED microdisplays as the preferred solution for the next generation of VR devices. While Apple’s Vision Pro device already utilizes a 1.4-inch 4K OLED microdisplay manufactured by Sony, Samsung, reportedly, is also actively looking to competing for orders for the Vision Pro device in the future.

On the other hand, Samsung’s Micro LED microdisplay products may take longer to enter the market. It is reported that Samsung Display began developing Micro LED microdisplay technology in August 2022. In September 2023, Samsung Display announced the development of a 0.25-inch FHD Micro LED microdisplay. Based on the latest information, these projects might be transferred to SSI.

From the perspective of the Micro LED market development, TrendForce estimates that, driven by the mass production of large displays and wearable devices, the production value of Micro LED will reach USD 27 million in 2023, with a year-on-year growth of 92%.

With the expansion of existing applications and the addition of new applications, it is projected that the production value of Micro LED will reach approximately $580 million in 2027, with an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 136% from 2022 to 2027.

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(Photo credit: Samsung)


[News] Can Mini LED Overcome Challenges Post-Apple’s Shift? Explore Its Prospects Beyond Apple’s Favor


In the past few years, the rapid growth of the Mini LED backlight market has been closely tied to the support from consumer electronics giant Apple. Apple pioneered the integration of Mini LED backlight technology into tablet products, sparking increased demand for Mini LED technology in the consumer market. However, it seems that Apple is now steering away from the Mini LED backlight technology path.

Recently, well-known Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a 2024 forecast report for the new iPad models. The upcoming iPad Pro is expected to replace the current Mini LED backlight panel with an OLED panel.

Additionally, the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Air model will feature an Oxide backplane, similar to the one used in Mini LED backlight panels, to enhance display performance.

From Apple’s strategic shift in abandoning Mini LED in favor of OLED for iPad Pro, it appears that the primary consideration is cost.

While the manufacturing process for Mini LED has matured in recent years, resulting in continuous cost reductions, the current cost of Mini LED remains higher compared to the more established and mature OLED technology.

In contrast, OLED’s cost performance is noteworthy. According to observations from TrendForce, OLED manufacturers have committed to investing in 8.5th generation OLED for laptops and tablets this year, indicating a potential further decrease in OLED costs.

Furthermore, OLED offers features such as slim design, low power consumption, quick response, high clarity, and flexibility, similar to Mini LED backlight technology.

This not only enhances the display performance of iPad Pro but also optimizes aspects like thickness, weight, and energy consumption, aligning with the characteristics of portable tablet products.

Apple’s Planned Shift from Mini LED to OLED

Looking back at the development of Mini LED in recent years, Apple’s utilization of this technology has not been extensive, and it has typically been reserved for Apple’s most high-end products, such as the 2019 Pro Display XDR. Subsequent releases, including the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, also adopted the same technology.

While Apple successfully integrated Mini LED backlight technology into the highest-end versions of displays, tablets, and laptops, some releases and production of Apple’s Mini LED backlight products were delayed during this period. This includes rumored products like the iMac Pro featuring Mini LED backlight screens and the second generation of the 27-inch display Apple Studio Display.

While Apple has been incorporating Mini LED backlight technology into high-end products, the company is also exploring the expansion of OLED technology beyond iPhones to include more devices.

Last year, it was reported that BOE is constructing an 8.6th generation OLED display production line to fulfill orders for Apple’s future iPad and MacBook models featuring OLED screens, expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

As for the upcoming iPad Pro tablet set to be launched as early as next year, there are indications that Samsung and LG will provide dual-layer OLED panels. This promises a doubling of screen brightness, an extended lifespan, and lower power consumption compared to Mini LED backlight technology.

Mini LED Backlight Demand Continues to Grow

TrendForce analysis indicates that, influenced by the Apple brand effect, Mini LED backlight has officially entered the application markets of laptops and tablets. However, due to high costs, Apple has notably slowed down the pace of introducing Mini LED backlight to laptops and tablets.

While the change in Apple’s display technology roadmap has had a certain impact on the Mini LED backlight market, especially in tablets and laptops where Apple holds a larger share, TrendForce’s report points out that the applications of Mini LED in TVs, displays, and automotive displays are still on a growth path.

It is worth noting that the main applications in TVs and displays continue to show a growth trend, while future potential applications like automotive displays provide more possibilities for the growth of the Mini LED backlight market.

With ongoing optimization of technology and costs, the overall Mini LED backlight market is expected to maintain a growth trend.

According to data from TrendForce’s report “2024 New Mini LED BLU Display Trend Analysis“, after a brief decline in shipments in 2023, applications with Mini LED backlight technology are expected to return to growth in 2024, with an estimated shipment volume of 13.79 million units.

With the trend of Mini LED terminal products becoming more affordable, the shipment volume is expected to continue growing, reaching an estimated 31.45 million units by 2027, with a CAGR of approximately 23.9% from 2023 to 2027.

(Photo credit: Apple)


[News] AUO and PlayNitride Sign NT$700 Million Deal for 6-inch Micro LED CoC Line in Taiwan


According to TechNews, AUO held a board meeting and signed a contract with PlayNitride on October 31st. The deal entails PlayNitride assisting AUO in setting up a cutting-edge 6-inch Micro LED Chip on Carrier (CoC) production line at AUO’s Longtan Tech Park facility, offering an all-in-one solution. The contract is valued at a substantial 700 million NT dollars, with a duration of 30 months.

The CoC production line is a pivotal part of Micro LED manufacturing, and AUO emphasizes that this contract is distinct from the one they have with Ennostar.

AUO highlights that their partnership with PlayNitride in establishing the CoC production line not only puts them in control of the most vital raw materials for Micro LED but also enables them to bring CoC to Micro LED module production in-house. This strategic move is expected to significantly enhance production efficiency, increase yield rates, and bolster AUO’s competitiveness in terms of Micro LED product costs. This, in turn, accelerates the timeline for the mass commercialization of Micro LED.

AUO’s involvement in Micro LED research dates back to 2012, resulting in expertise in display technology and manufacturing processes. In the display industry, they’ve been integrating the supply chain and establishing a comprehensive Micro LED ecosystem, gradually working toward the goal of commercialization during the year of mass production for Micro LED. AUO has big plans for applying Micro LED display technology across various fields.

Addressing concerns about technology transfer, PlayNitride clarifies that technology transfer primarily pertains to well-established product technologies, carried out incrementally with different firms. At the same time, PlayNitride is committed to developing new processes and products, and with patent protection in place and specific company considerations, there’s currently no need to fret about any technology leakage.
In August this year, TrendForce predicted rapid growth in the Micro LED chip market, with an expected value of $27 million in 2023, marking a 92% YoY increase. This growth is expected to continue, reaching approximately $580 million in 2027, with a CAGR of about 136% from 2022 to 2027. AUO, known for LCDs, has already produced the world’s first 1.39-inch Micro LED watch panel. Major companies, including AUO’s current client Tag Heuer, are potential adopters of Micro LED wearable devices.
(Image: AUO)

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2024 Tech Trends Projection Revealed, TrendForce: AI Continues as the Main Focus

With the approach to the end of 2023, TrendForce revealed the tech trends in every sector, apparently, AI continues as the main focus to decide the direction of how the tech supply chain will be in the next few years, here are the seeings:

CSPs increase AI investment, driving a 38% growth in AI server shipments by 2024

  • CSPs increase AI investment, fueling a 38% growth in AI server shipments by 2024.
  • Major CSPs like Microsoft, Google, and AWS are driving this growth due to the rising popularity of AI applications, pushing AI server shipments to 1.2 million units in 2023.

HBM3e set to drive an annual increase of 172% in HBM revenue

  • Major memory suppliers are set to introduce HBM3e with faster speeds (8 Gbps) to enhance the performance of AI accelerator chips in 2024–2025.
  • HBM integration is becoming common among GPU manufacturers like NVIDIA and AMD, and it is expected that HBM will significantly contribute to memory suppliers’ revenues in 2024, with an annual growth rate of 172%.

Rising demand for advanced packaging in 2024, the emergence of 3D IC technology

  • Leading semiconductor firms like TSMC, Samsung, and Intel are emphasizing advanced packaging technology’s importance in boosting chip performance, conserving space, reduce power usage, and minimize latency. They’re establishing 3D IC research centers in Japan to underscore this role.
  • Generative AI is driving increased demand for 2.5D packaging tech, integrating computing chips and memory with a silicon interposer layer. Additionally, 3D packaging solutions like TSMC’s SoIC, Samsung’s X-Cube, and Intel’s Foveros.

NTN is set to begin with small-scale commercial tests, broader applications of this technology are on the way in 2024

  • Collaboration between satellite operators, semiconductor firms, telecom operators, and smartphone makers is growing due to increased satellite deployments by operators. This collaboration focuses on mobile satellite communication applications and bidirectional data transmission under specific conditions.
  • Major semiconductor manufacturers are ramping up efforts in satellite communication chips, leading top smartphone manufacturers to integrate satellite communication into high-end phones using the SoC model, which is expected to drive small-scale commercial testing of NTN networks and promote widespread adoption of NTN applications.

6G communication to begin in 2024, with satellite communication taking center stage

  • 6G standardization begins around 2024-2025, with initial technologies expected by 2027-2028. This enables novel applications like Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS), terahertz bands, Optical Wireless Communication (OWC), NTN for high-altitude comms, and immersive Extended Reality (XR) experiences.
  • Low-orbit satellites will play a key role in 6G as its standards solidify, peaking around the time of 6G commercialization. The use of drones for 6G communication and environmental sensing is also set to surge in the 6G era.

Innovative entrants drive cost optimization for Micro LED technology in 2024

  • In 2023, the focus in Micro LED display technology is on cost reduction through chip downsizing, aiming for at least a 20-25% annual reduction. A hybrid transfer approach, combining stamping and laser bonding, is gaining attention for efficient mass production.
  • Micro LED holds potential in micro-projection displays for transparent AR lenses. Challenges include achieving ultra-high PPI with 5 µm or smaller chips, particularly with red LEDs’ low efficiency. Various innovative approaches, such as InGan-based red LEDs and vertically stacked RGB LEDs.

Intensifying competition in AR/VR micro-display technologies

  • Increasing AR/VR headset demand drives demand for ultra-high PPI near-eye displays, with Micro OLED technology at the forefront, poised for broader adoption.
  • Challenges in brightness and efficiency impact Micro OLED displays and their dominance in the head-mounted display market depends on the development of various micro-display technologies.

Advancements in material and component technologies are propelling the commercialization of gallium oxide

  • Gallium oxide (Ga₂O₃) is gaining prominence for next-gen power semiconductor devices due to its potential in high-voltage, high-temperature, and high-frequency applications in EVs, electrical grids, and aerospace.
  • The industry is already producing 4-inch gallium oxide mono-crystals and advancing Schottky diode and transistor fabrication processes, with the first Schottky diode products expected by 2024.

Solid-state batteries poised to reshape the EV battery landscape over the next decade

  • Major automakers and battery manufacturers are investing in solid-state and semi-solid-state battery technologies, aiming for a new cycle of technological iteration by 2024.
  • After Li-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, with lower energy density, are suitable for budget-friendly EVs, and hydrogen fuel cells offer long-range and zero emissions, primarily for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, with widespread adoption expected after 2025, despite challenges.

BEVs in 2024 rely on power conversion efficiency, driving range, and charging efficiency

  • Automakers are optimizing battery pack structures and material ratios to increase energy density and driving range. Solid-state batteries, with high energy density, may see limited installations in vehicles as semi-solid batteries in 2H23.
  • The 800V platform will enable high-power fast charging, leading to the expansion of high-power charging stations. AI advancements are driving EVs toward advanced autonomous driving, with Tesla’s Dojo supercomputer investing in neural network training to maintain its position in the intelligent driving market.

Green solutions with AI simulations emerging as a linchpin for renewable energy and decarbonized manufacturing

  • Under the background of optimizing energy consumption, creating interconnected data ecosystems, and visualizing energy flow and consumption. Carbon auditing tools and AI are key for organizations aiming to reduce carbon emissions and enhance sustainability.
  • The IEA predicts global renewable energy generation to reach 4,500 GW by 2024, driven by policy support, rising fossil fuel prices, and energy crises. The adoption of AI-driven smart technologies in peripheral systems for stable energy generation.

OLED’s expansion will across various applications driven by the innovation of foldable phones

  • OLED folding phones are improving in design by using lightweight materials, innovative hinge structures, and cost-reduction efforts to approach the thickness and weight of traditional smartphones.
  • In the IT sector, industry players like Samsung, BOE Technology, JDI, and Visionox are making significant investments and developments in OLED technology to expand into various markets. Anticipated advancements in technology and materials are expected to increase OLED market penetration by 2025.
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