Taiwanese flat-panel suppliers are upgrading production technology in their plants in China, with some shifting from the traditional amorphous silicon technology to the more advanced low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) development process, according to a research report.
In the report, market information advisory firm DisplaySearch said one Taiwanese firm focusing on high-end screen technology development, AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電), will apply LTPS technology in its Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province plant.
LTPS technology can be easily applied to high-end flat panels featuring high resolution of 330 pixels per inch (ppi) and above, as well as ultra-narrow bezels, according to a TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) report from December last year.
The advanced technology is used in Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets.
AUO has announced that it will transform its Kunshan plant into a sixth-generation production site, rolling out small and medium-sized panels, from a previously planned 8.5 generation facility producing large panels.
The Kunshan plant was completed after AUO obtained approval from Taiwanese authorities to build the canceled 8.5 generation plant in China about three years ago. However, the new facility needs to be equipped with production facilities before it can begin production.
AUO said the production facility is scheduled to become operational in 2016.
DisplaySearch said that as AUO has taken the lead over its Chinese peers in the production of flat panels, it is likely that its adoption of newer LTPS development processes will strengthen the company’s technological advantage in producing high-definition displays for handheld devices.
In addition, Foxconn Technology Group (富士康), the world’s largest contract electronics maker, is considering the possibility of building a sixth-generation flat-panel plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, also to benefit from China’s rapidly growing smartphone market, according to DisplaySearch.
Meanwhile, DisplaySearch said that Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) is planning to set up a new production facility in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, for active-matrix organic light-emitting diode screen production.
DisplaySearch also said that Foxconn, known in Taiwan as Hon Hai Group (鴻海), had previously planned to introduce technology developed by Sharp Corp to produce small and medium-sized panels, but now has decided to independently develop its own LTPS panel manufacturing process.
STABLE SUPPLY CHAIN
The Foxconn investment plan intends to produce 24,000 small and medium-sized panels per month in the initial stages, DisplaySearch said.
As Foxconn assembles iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc, it is gearing up to stabilize a supply chain for its assembly line, including guaranteed supplies of flat panels.