Apple said to downsize Micro LED R&D in Taiwan, may be shifting focus to US

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2017
Apple has allegedly shrunk the workforce behind its Micro LED R&D efforts in Longtan, Taiwan, as a result of slow progress with the mass transfer of Micro LED chips onto receiver substrates -- though the company still appears committed to adopting the display technology on future products.




Without mass transfer, panel makers can't achieve large-scale production of Micro LED -- at least in the short term, DigiTimes noted on Monday. The Taiwan R&D team is said to originate from Apple's 2014 LuxVue acquistion.

Apple may simply be returning R&D focus back to the U.S., having completed an initial phase, sources with Taiwanese LED suppliers told DigiTimes. Regardless, the company is thought to be collaborating with its main processor manufacturer, TSMC, on detouring the mass transfer bottleneck through work on silicon wafers.

Micro LED could offer superior brightness, contrast, and response versus even the OLED panel used on the iPhone X, but the company is unlikely to adopt the standard any time soon. The iPhone X is only Apple's second device with an OLED primary display, following the Apple Watch, in no small part because phone-sized OLED manufacturing capacity is still low beyond Samsung.

In June a report claimed that Apple could adopt Micro LED in wearables -- presumably, the Apple Watch -- as soon as next year. The company is also rumored to be working on an augmented reality headset, but that isn't expected to ship until 2020.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    I can’t believe AI reposts rumors from DigiTimes.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    I can’t believe AI reposts rumors from DigiTimes.
    Actually, I would've 'expected no less' from AI. Also, isn't the TouchBar OLED as well?
    bb-15SpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 13
    netroxnetrox Posts: 699member
    NO!!!! We must invest in microLED!!! There's so much good out of microLED despite it being much more expensive initially.
    SoundJudgmentSoliwatto_cobracyberzombie
  • Reply 4 of 13
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,770member
    Lesson learned. Apple can't rely fore ever on Samsung for mass highend OLED supply. LG said investing billions in OLED but doesn't seem going further. So, somehow Apple have to make microLED produced in mass scale. Apple now controls it's destiny for CPU/GPU and multiple sources for other chipset but screen is one area that Apple must control well,
    edited November 2017 caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    wood1208 said:
    Lesson learned. Apple can't rely fore ever on Samsung for mass highend OLED supply. LG said investing billions in OLED but doesn't seem going further. So, somehow Apple have to make microLED produced in mass scale. Apple now controls it's destiny for CPU/GPU and multiple sources for other chipset but screen is one area that Apple must control well,
    Especially if Samsung decides to increase its pricing on OLED. 
    caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,489member
    netrox said:
    NO!!!! We must invest in microLED!!! There's so much good out of microLED despite it being much more expensive initially.
    I’s gladly pay for micro-LED on my Watch to have it be brighter and be more energy efficient.
    calinetroxlongpath
  • Reply 7 of 13
    OLED is here to stay for larger devices.

    An AR headset is probably the direction they’re going.  Extreme high resolution displays of only a few inches is required.  

    The problem with headsets is the displays closeness to the eye, so something superior to current OLED and LCDs is needed.

    If Apple can get MicroLEDs to work that would be a major competitive advantage in AR/VR.

    I don’t know about MicroLED’s power usage... but OLED performs very well at this, so OLED watches makes more sense.  The future in wearables is flexible displays not MicroLED. 
  • Reply 8 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,489member
    I don’t know about MicroLED’s power usage... but OLED performs very well at this, so OLED watches makes more sense.  The future in wearables is flexible displays not MicroLED. 
    OLED has nothing on micro-LED in power efficiency. I don't think OLED makes any sense for smartwatches once micro-LED is a viable option.
    longpath
  • Reply 9 of 13
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,672member
    If i understand this right it sounds like an assembly tech problem.   That is how do you transfer a bunch of micro LEDs to a substrate and get everything in the right order.  This could be more difficult than many imagine.  Im not too sure your three colors can be grown on a common substrate.  More details would certainly help here.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Truth is OLED has always sucked. It was a tech that got lucky and had competition fail before launch.

    Canon had better display technology in 2006 but got caught in an IP battle and the tech stopped advancing. Other display tech didn’t have the backing of big companies like Sony even if the tech was better. Laser displays I believe couldn’t be scaled down in size. OLED compared unfavorably to these dead displays. 

    So it doesn’t surprise me that Apple is bringing better technology to the masses. 
    longpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    ksecksec Posts: 1,545member
    wizard69 said:
    If i understand this right it sounds like an assembly tech problem.   That is how do you transfer a bunch of micro LEDs to a substrate and get everything in the right order.  This could be more difficult than many imagine.  Im not too sure your three colors can be grown on a common substrate.  More details would certainly help here.  
    As I have pointed out numerous times, but then a few fellow on AI still refuse to believe it.

    Yes there is an assembly tech problem. Which is what Mass transfer is all about. Because Micro LED has only a few um, which means getting it align correctly, and efficiently becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. This is why TSMC was part of the R&D. but it didn't help. Current Micro LED Mass transfer onto Phone Size screen under best case scenarios take days. Estimate production rate could speed this up 5x, but that is still in multiple hours, and this is just for assembly. An order of magnitude slower then LED or OLED production rate.

    All these assuming perfect yield, which they are not getting anywhere close to it.

    Basically at this stage it is still a fantasy tech. It would not even work in smaller production unit trial like Apple Watch. And it is ridiculously expensive, even when compared to the best OLED. If we are complaining about the price of iPhone because of its OLED screen, micro LED will only make this much worse.

    The industry is now moving to Macro LED, hoping for it to work on large TV set.

    As I have mentioned before, the OLED industry have an clear roadmap and production capacity from China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. With tens of Billions already invested and billions more to come. It has a clear improvement roadmap from both Samsung and LG, Apple also has patents ( or ideas ) for merging Quantum Dots with WOLED screen. So whether you like it or not, OLED is here to stay in the foreseeable future.

    Note: I dont have anything against MicroLED, I would love to see it. But the reality is they are not ready yet.

    Note2: This will likely my last post on the MicroLED topic.
     

    edited November 2017
  • Reply 12 of 13
    As some of the posters have already stated clearly and with very good reasons to back up their positions, microLED has huge hurdles to overcome. 

    Most of the hurdles in mass producing high quality OLED panels have been overcome, at least by Samsung. It’s going to take several years yet for LG to catch up. Samsung has essentially a five year lead. LG’s wOLED technology is excellent for TVs but I am unconvinced that the technology lends itself well to smaller screen devices, even with the incorporation of Quantum dot technology. Samsung is now working on improving pixel density, color rendering, energy consumption, and foldable panels. By the time Apple is able to mass produce a commercially viable microLED panel and that’s a big if, Samsung will have a superior OLED alternative on the market. Apple is going to have to work closely with Samsung. There is essentially no other alternative. I was advocating for Apple to develop a viable plan if they wanted an alternative display to Samsung. Cook couldn’t see it and now is forced to deal with Samsung. Had Jobs been alive, this would not have happened. Cook has no alternative. That iPhone X display is outstanding and better than any LCD based iPhone. Japan is hopelessly behind in the technology and China won’t have anyone to go in as a partner in order to gain proficiency in the technology. Samsung certainly won’t do it. Essentially, Samsung has achieved near total dominance in the technology

    Apple and LG are essentially too late. Samsung has a huge lead in the technology. MicroLED has even bigger hurdles than LG trying to catch Samsung in OLED. 
  • Reply 13 of 13
    "DigiTimes"... smdh...
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