June 07, 2018

Computex Taipei - Semiconductors Update

By Van Tran

At this week's Computex show in Taipei, sources discussed a MicroLED display for the Apple Watch and MediaTek’s new 5G modem.

Apple Could Use MicroLED with Watch in 2020  
Apple Inc. continues to be a big topic at Computex, a traditionally computer-related event. While the Taiwanese government's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) showcased MicroLED, a new display technology, at its booth, most of the discussion among visitors and exhibitors centered around MicroLED's potential adoption for the new Apple Watch and eventually the iPhone. An industry source said Apple plans to sample a MicroLED panel for the Watch in 2019, but mass production is not expected until 2020. “A MicroLED iPhone will not be ready for another 4-5 years because it’s difficult to raise production yield rates,” said a source.

MicroLED delivers the same power efficiency, colors and brightness as OLED but without the expensive organic compounds. Sources also said Apple is working in house to master MicroLED technology but could eventually contract production to panel makers when it is ready to mass produce. Sources said major panel makers Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005930 KS), LG Display Co. Ltd. (034220 KS), AU Optronics Corp. (2409 TT) and Innolux Corp. (3481 TT) could have MicroLED production capacity in a few years.

Sources: MediaTek’s New 5G Modem Trailing Behind QCOM’s SOC
MediaTek Inc. (2454 TT) launched its first 5G modem, the Helio M70, which is expected to be ready next year. Sources said MediaTek is playing catch-up to Qualcomm Inc., which plans to sample its integrated 5G SOC (CPU and modem) by the end of 2018. MediaTek said it has no plans to integrate the Helio M70 into an SOC, and the company did not reveal plans to release a 5G SOC. A source said MediaTek needs a 5G SOC to seriously compete against Qualcomm. “Almost no smartphone brand uses discrete modems anymore because they are power hungry, and 5G like 4G is an SOC market,” he said.

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