Foxconn Holds Tight to Taiwan’s Micro LED R&D Task Force

A new war is looming in the display market. The rumor that Samsung may team up with the Micro LED supply chain in Taiwan has caught the attention of Foxconn CEO Terry Gou.

(Image: TechNews)

Foxconn invests in Micro LED startup eLux and is partnering with AOT on Micro LED development. After knowing Samsung may work with Taiwanese Micro LED supply chain, Gou decided to follow suit. Meanwhile, Sharp led by Taiwanese Entrepreneur Tai Jeng-wu is attempting to integrate Micro LED technology with ‘IGZO’ technology, which the company is proud of, to create high-end displays.

Samsung is racing against time. It announced to showcase a Micro LED TV at CES 2018. If it succeeds, it will create a new opportunity for its display business. It is worth noting that a part of the technologies used to produce that Micro LED TV are from Taiwan.

Over the past twelve months, Korean companies visited Micro LED companies in Taiwan several times. Korean engineers could be seen in the Tai Yuen Hi-Tech Industrial Park almost everyday in the past 30 days, a source from the industry unveiled.

At 2017 Micro LED International Symposium in Taipei, many attendees were from Samsung and LG Display, and they asked a lot of questions, according to Dr. Chih-I Wu, Head of ITRI’s Electronic and Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories. Epistar general manager Ming-Chun Chou also once said that it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Samsung launch a Micro LED TV.

Why Samsung cares so much about Micro LED development in Taiwan? The reason might be that Samsung found the supply chain in Taiwan, which is outside Apple’s task force, has already been able to independently develop 300 DPI full color Micro LED displays. Those company may even be able to create flexible displays if replacing rigid backplanes with flexible ones. Likewise, they are likely to produce transparent displays as well. That appears to be potential threats to Samsung in the display market.  

In Taiwan, lots of R&D teams buckled themselves down to the development of Micro LED. However, to create a Micro LED display, designated driver ICs, components, and circuitry are also required apart from display technologies.

Samsung has the missing pieces they are looking for. “Samsung has spend three years researching and developing Micro LED technology. Hundreds of engineers join the R&D,” said an insider. That means Samsung has also been secretly developing the new display technology when Apple set up a secret R&D base in Taoyuan, Taiwan. In the past year, Samsung also formed a supply chain in Taiwan, which shows the Korean firm’s determination to launch Micro LED TVs ahead of the others. It is rumored its R&D process has hit the final stage.

After learning the close partnership between Samsung and those Taiwanese companies, Foxconn CEO decided to take action to prevent Samsung from stealing talents from the company’s homeland.

Even if Micro LED technology is yet to take off, a lot of companies are already secretly competing with each other in the R&D process. What companies in Taiwan need is a effective integration, bring out the best of their new technologies. Facing the situation that the US, China, Korea are all eyeing the next generation display technology, Taiwan should seize this opportunity to collaborate to generate revenue instead of license out patents like it did two decades ago when it invented key OLED technologies.

Read also:

Samsung to Launch Micro LED TV at CES 2018

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