Himax to mass-produce new cell-phone LCD driver IC in Q2

Jan 25, 2005 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Electronics and Computers Ι By Quincy, CENS
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Taipei, Jan. 25, 2005 (CENS)--Taiwan's Himax Technologies Inc. is scheduled to begin mass production of a new small-sized driver integrated circuit (IC) chip specifically developed for cell phones in the second quarter of the year.

Industry sources said that the size of Himax's new thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel driver IC is only about 2/3 of Hitachi's 6647 counterpart, with its price set at US$2.5 per unit, the lowest of its kind.

The sources said that Himax developed the new driver chip in cooperation with Samsung Electronics of South Korea, and it has sent sample products to cell-phone makers worldwide. According to the sources, the global market for cell-phone LCD driver Ics has long been monopolized by Hitachi of Japan.

Some other companies that have successfully developed driver IC models similar to Hitachi's were often required to have their products be compatible with those of the latter. But Hitachi adjusted down quotations for its cell-phone LCD driver Ics to only US$4 from about US$6 per unit last year, forcing counterparts such as Himax to drive down their prices to the cost levels.

As the driver IC accounts for about 30% of a cell phone's LCD module (compared with only 5% in a LCD TV), Himax decided to cooperate with Samsung to develop new driver chip models that bear new specifications not compatible with Hitachi's products.

Industry sources said that Himax's new driver IC model has strong cost competitiveness and has attracted the intention from many cell-phone makers. They have required Himax to develop specific-use chips.

A senior official of a local IC design company said that small- and medium-sized TFT-LCD panels are expected to become the mainstream display for cell phones in the second half this year due to falling driver-IC prices.

A LCD panel maker said that currently the quotation for a 1.8-inch LCD panel module (chip on glass, or COG, packaging) is US$16 to US$18, compared with US$12 to US$13 for a color super twisted nematic (STN)-LCD module. He predicted that the quotation for the former to fall under US$12 in the second half.

A chip designer said that the demand for color handsets is expected to continue rising this year as camera handsets are expected to account for 60% of the overall cell-phone sales and that the popularity of the 2.5th-generation mobile telecom standard in South Korea and Japan would grow significantly.
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