A landmark agreement by three companies promises a significant increase in production capability for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. Unlike LCDs that require external lightsources, adding costs and size to their assembly, OLEDs include their own internal light sources. This lowers power consumption and enhances the OLED's appeal in compact applications.
The agreement involves Clare Inc. of Beverly, Mass., a maker of OLED display driver ICs; X-FAB of Erfurt, Germany, a wafer-fabrication facility; and Siliconware of Taichung, Taiwan, an assembly, packaging, and testing company. The pact should help fulfill the expected increase in OLED demand from 1999's total of several hundred thousand units to over 100 million units by 2005.
Unlike traditional LCDs that require voltage row and column drivers, the emerging OLED technology needs current row and column drivers. Clare hopes to establish high-volume capacity for its current-driver ICs, which target the OLED flat-panel display market. This is important to the introduction of OLED displays, as Clare says that its ICs are the first commercially available drivers designed specifically to meet OLED current-drive requirements.
Under the agreement, Clare is responsible for all product development, marketing, and worldwide sales. X-FAB will be the wafer foundry for the required 20- to 30-V mixed-signal process. Siliconware will handle tape-carrier packaging, assembly, and testing, using its own LCD-driver assembly plant.
In May, Clare entered the OLED-driver IC market by announcing a general-purpose OLED column driver. At the time, the company also said that a row driver will be available by early 2001.