A Long-Term View On Display

Interesting to hear about the joint company that’s been formed between Renesas, Sharp Corp., and Powerchip Semiconductor Corp. (PSC). Its view is to feeding the future LCD market with drivers and controllers.

There is no doubt that the demand for LCD panels has demonstrated explosive growth in recent years. It has been driven mainly by the global demand for LCD TVs, mobile phones with more sophisticated displays, and the expanded application of LCDs in control systems, car navigation products and game consoles. So have Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip Semi made the right call to commit to this joint venture?

What is certain is that collectively they have enormous cash reserve, especially Renesas with its revenues of €953billion and Sharp showing very healthy sales figures of €3,127,771million. Not surprising, then, that the fledgling joint venture company, Renesas SP Drivers Inc., will have a capital base of €5billion and ownership pie will be sliced as follows: Renesas 55%, Sharp 25%, and PSC 20%.

All well and good, but have they read the market signs correctly? I say they have. Put LCD TV demand to one side for the moment and focus instead on the global mobilephone market.

The market growth for small and mid-size LCDs is expected to be especially dynamic. That’s due to the demand for mobile phones that must support sophisticated multimedia capabilities, such as integral digital cameras and reception of TV programs.

Factor into the demand for greater phone functionality, plus the situation in countries like China and India where huge swathes of the population are waiting to get their hands on the latest mobile phone, and this joint venture looks to be perfectly timed.

As if by way of endorsement and hot on the heels of the Renesas, Sharp, and PSC news came an announcement from the Mobile World Congress about next-generation graphics and multimedia for mobile devices. Advanced Micro Devices was showing off its Adapt II platform, which is based on the Freescale i.MX31 applications processor and includes the AMD Imageon M180 media processor. This will provide ultra-fast, highresolution image processing, DVDquality video, and high-definition audio for mobile applications.

AMD also demonstrated its OpenVG graphics technologies that are designed to enable even more compelling games, user interfaces, navigation, animations, and flash content on next-generation mobile devices.

Looks like the LCD trio just may have timed it right.

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