Freescale, Samsung partner on LED display technology
With an eye on the European Union's ROHS (Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances) electronics directive, Freescale Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics have collaborated to address the market for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
In doing so, Freescale built on an existing customer relationship with Samsung that saw it begin sampling LED display technology to the electronics maker in December 2007. In September, Freescale introduced the first LED backlight product in its portfolio of standard power management ICs, the MC34844, a white LED driver IC capable of driving up to 160 LEDs in 10 parallel strings and specifically designed for control of LED backlights in TVs, as well as in flat-panel monitors.
Freescale and Samsung have now co-designed a custom part for the consumer electronics maker's products.
“Our collaboration with Samsung on LED backlighting – clearly a disruptive technology – will help spur further innovation and growth in the LCD market,” Arman Naghavi, VP and general manager of Freescale’s analog, mixed-signal, and power division, said in a statement today.
Indeed, the market for semiconductors used in backlighting applications, including LED driver ICs, is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2008 to $2 billion in 2012, according to data from IMS Research.
“We expect the market for LED backlighting in notebooks, monitors, and TVs to grow strongly,” said Jamie Fox, a market research analyst for IMS Research, in the statement. “In notebooks in particular, rapid growth is widely expected from 2008 to 2010.”
LED demand is also on the up thanks to ROHS, which restricts the amount of mercury, among other substances, that can be used in electronics design. LED technology is free from mercury, but mercury is a key material in conventional CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent) lamp lighting systems, which are used in nearly all existing LCD TV displays.
Further, Freescale estimated LED backlights with local dimming can help reduce power consumption by up to 60% and can allow manufacturers to adopt thinner, lighter form factors.
Freescale has stated plans to announce additional LED backlighting solutions for LCD TVs, monitors, and notebooks in the first half of next year. Also in 2009, the company has said it intends to pursue the automotive, commercial, and residential LED lighting markets.