AUO’s expansion of LED backlight in 2010

Taiwan’s leading panel vendor AU Optronics plans to fully-adopt LED backlight for all NB panels shipped before the end of 2010; penetration of LED backlight in its internal monitor shipments is expected to reach 10 ~ 15%. In 2010, the estimated global LED TV penetration may hit 10%. Dr L.J. Chen, CEO of AUO, indicated that as a result of strong demand for LED panels, tighter supply of LED chips is expected in 2010.

According to AUO’s forecasts, global LED TV penetration will reach 3~5% in 2009, and continue its climb to 10% in 2010. In facing tighter supply of LED chips in 2010, Epistar remains AUO’s primary supplier. Meanwhile, Lexstar, AUO’s own chipmaker, has been positioned as a chip solution provider, focusing on R&D to design the most suitable chip for LED TV. Lextar has recently completed the setup of its manufacturing plant in June, and has already commissioned 2 ~ 4 machines for small-scale trial production. Earliest chip production, though in small quantity, is expected in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Sharp has also expressed that it will be converting its entire production line to LED TV in 2011; this will further stimulate the explosive growth of LED backlight panels in 2010. Taiwan’s upstream LED makers have accelerated their capacity expansion plans to fulfill the demand gap – before year end, Epistar and FOREPI will each introduce 10 and 11 high-brightness Blue-ray MOCVD systems respectively. Similarly, Samsung LED is also on track with capacity expansion, adding 5 new MOCVD systems per month.

According to AUO, even though global penetration of LED monitors is only 2 ~ 3% in 2009, the outlook for global LED backlight market is highly optimistic with substantial market growth. Chen added, AUO’s internal estimates of LED monitor shipment ratio is to reach 10 ~ 15%, higher than that of the global market. AUO Executive Vice President Paul Peng said that LED backlight will gradually be introduced in its monitors, starting with the 18.5-inch and 20-inch, due to their minimal price difference.

 

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