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Epistar Upholds Positive Outlook for Small Pitch LED Display Market

Author: Ivan Lin, Editor-in-Chief, LEDinside     Publish Time: 2016-05-23      Origin: LEDinside


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The LED display market preference in 2015 were small pitch LED displays, and high definition products. These products that have been under the industry spotlight last year continued to show strong growth this year, especially in China. Small pitch LED displays is gaining traction in other regional markets including Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe. Emerging markets, such as Middle East and South America where the 2016 Olympics will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, also witnessed soaring growth for small pitch LED displays. To learn more about display technology advancements and trend analyses, LEDinside spoke to international and Taiwanese LED chip manufacturers and other related industry players.

Currently LED displays including outdoor LED billboards and signage, can be classified into indoor or outdoor displays. Most buyers are managers of commercial spaces, who buy displays to broadcast video ads or digital banners in public. Previously, most LED displays were low end LED products that had very large pitches, used fewer LEDs, and low resolutions compared to same sized small pitch LED displays today. Benefiting from LED chip and package technology advancements, LED display pitch has been minimalized, while smaller pitch LED displays have improved image resolution significantly. Viewers are able to compare the differences, and observe significant changes in display resolution, hence there are more buyers in the high-end market purchasing these products.

Small pitch LED displays market demands soared within three years, main Chinese manufacturers include Leyard and Unilumin, while major Taiwanese companies include Everlight and Harvatek.  These LED manufacturers have delivered stellar results in the global LED display market. Big international players include Barco and Daktronics, which are leading LED display manufacturers in application sectors including stage, opera, sports venues, and public spaces. In recent years, these companies have also entered small pitch LED display markets, ushering in a new wave of market opportunities.

LED displays energy efficiency advantages and ROI attracts growing number of orders

The LED package used by display manufacturers has reduced the LEDs size in displays from three LEDs for lamps to specs as small as 3535, 3030, and 3-in-1 LEDs. The pitch in LED displays has continued to contract, which raised the number of LEDs used in a same sized LED displays, and spurred LED chip shipment growth.

LED technology has matured in the last few years resulting in improved luminous efficiency, brighter LED chips have halved driver power requirements. To illustrate, in the past a single LED module in an outdoor LED display might need to be driven with 20 mA electric current because the chip was too dim, but now the LED chip can be driven at 10 mA or below.

Previously, commercial spaces made up the majority of outdoor LED display projects, but LED displays or larger displays were rejected by procurers due to high energy consumption. New LED displays significantly lowered energy consumption to create better advertisement revenue, and raised procurers’ willingness to use LED displays resulting in more orders.

LED displays low power consumption makes it very energy efficient, and attractive for potential buyers, said Hung-Hui Shih, Director of RGB LED display department at Epistar. During the product’s earlier phase in the market, large volumes of fans and heat sinks were required to dissipate heat in the LED displays, which made the display thick, heavy, and drove up energy consumption. However, new LED displays use energy efficient designs to dissipate heat, and significantly lower power consumption in LED displays. This reduces costs in electric wiring, while simplifying the design, and making it more flexible. The thinner and lighter displays also reduces transportation and installation costs. The new energy efficient LED displays are indirectly supported by global government bids, as cost benefits from these devices have been recognized worldwide.

Indoor LED display market is also showing a similar trend as innovative chip technologies raise LED brightness, while reducing driver currents. In the past, 3528 LED was the mainstream spec for indoor LED displays, but it is gradually being replaced by 2121 and 2020 LEDs. The pitch is also now below 2.5 mm, and can reach specs of P1.9 and P1.6 creating a seamless visual effect. If a good IC driver is incorporated in the device it can improve color gamut performance. Following advancements in LED specs, the market prefers using small pitch LED displays for high resolution, clear and crisp images. Many of the applications include shopping centers, retail stores and indoor commercial spaces.

Future market trends of LED chips used in display applications

Small pitch LED displays current market share is a mere 10%, and its growth is accelerating. In the future foreseeable LED display trends include:

1.    Smaller LEDs

The top three small pitch LEDs include 1010, 0909 and 0808 LEDs, which can be easily manufactured into small pitch LED displays. Hence, 0808 LEDs can achieve a pitch of P1.2 in LED displays. Smaller packages 0505 and 0606 LEDs have higher costs, mostly from slicing tests and picking.

2.    Commercialization of ultra-high definition products

High definition display products have become very attractive for high-end commercial advertisement clients, hence retailers prefer high definition 2K LED displays in the high-end product range. In the future, the emergence of 4K LED displays and maturing costs, will drive the application of 0.8 pitch and below display specs in war rooms, it is also an emerging product in high-end commercial spaces. However, it takes a long period before the products can be commercialized.

In terms of future developments, how much smaller can LED chips get? Current, 0505 and 0404 LEDs are already nearing the limits of commercial LEDs, and only higher definition 4K and 8K displays can be commercialized. If LED manufacturers can overcome wire bonding issues associated with ultra-small LED packages, or even create a non-traditional LED package type by adding certain protection to package-free products.

RGB LED chips consistency requirements

LEDs need to deliver reliable and highly consistent performance to meet clients LED display demands. Increasing emphasis is placed on optoelectronic features, instead of intense brightness. Under low current conditions, LED chips need to deliver consistent brightness, wavelength and performance.

In the RGB LED sector, Taiwanese LED manufacturer Everlight delivered strong results. There are also more Chinese LED manufacturers starting to develop RGB LED products, but there are many technology barriers when integrating the LEDs. In general, most Chinese companies red LED performance is still behind Taiwanese companies.

Taiwanese company Epistar is a global leader in the red LED sector, and has excellent red LED chip product portfolio that can be integrated with InGaN LEDs. Epistar is currently ahead of competitors and will continue to advance its R&D capacity to improve production capacity and quality of RGB LEDs.

Epistar’s comprehensive IP portfolio can assist LED display exports

Epistar has a very strong patent portfolio for its RGB LED and wide range of  red LED chip products, which is an advantage in international markets where patented LED chips is a mandatory requirement. Many international manufacturers demand for patented LED chips, hence many will choose Epistar’s LEDs that are packaged into their LED displays. The company’s chips are preferred by traders and procurers. In other words, Epistar’ s patented LED chips are more suitable in the export market, compared to non-patent protected products. The Taiwanese company’s products can become market competitive if LED package manufacturers integrates anti-UV and water resistance features in the product.

In international markets, LED displays have shown strong growth in Europe, U.S., Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America. Growing number of large retailers, public spaces, and airports are introducing high spec small pitch LED displays. The market has also improved in effectively solving light pollution issues from LED displays, by integrating IoT, smart controls, and smart dimming. Under different lighting environments, the displays parameters include brightness and luminance can be adjusted accordingly.

LEDinside projects small pitch LED displays will grow exponentially in 2015 in the global LED display market, while market business opportunities for related IC LED drivers, LED modules, and thermal dissipation components also hold huge market potential.

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