Apple has partnered with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to develop ultra-advanced display technology at a secretive facility in Taiwan, Nikkei Asia reports.
The California tech giant plans to develop micro OLED displays — a radically different type of display built directly onto chip wafers — with the ultimate goal of using the new technology in its upcoming augmented reality devices, sources briefed on the matter said.
Apple is collaborating with its longtime chip supplier TSMC because micro OLED displays are not built on glass substrates like the conventional LCD screens in smartphones and TVs, or OLED displays used in high-end smartphones. Instead, these new displays are built directly onto wafers — the substrates that semiconductors are fabricated on — allowing for displays that are far thinner and smaller and use less power, making them more suitable for use in wearable AR devices, according to sources familiar with the projects… The micro OLED project is now at the trial production stage, sources said, and it will take several years to achieve mass production. The displays under development are less than 1 inch in size.
The project is one of two being conducted at Apple’s secretive labs in Longtan District in the northern Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. In addition to micro OLED displays, the company is also working on micro LED technology, and has trial production lines in place for both types, Nikkei has learned.
Apple has hired dozens of veterans from Taiwanese display maker AU Optoelectronics to work on the micro OLED project, one of the sources familiar with the situation said, as well as display experts from Japan and elsewhere… Apple’s other display project at the Longtan campus focuses on micro LED technology, which the company hopes to eventually use in the Apple Watch, iPads and MacBooks. Apple has partnered with Taiwanese LED company Epistar to co-develop the technology.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple partnering with TSMC to develop ultra-advanced displays is no surprise.
In late September, noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously written that Apple is prepping at least six iPad and Mac products with mini-LED displays for launch by the end of 2021, but in mid-September he reported that the initial batch of mini-LED displays arriving through the end of 2020 will be for an iPad Pro.
The first mini-LED product looks to be Apple’s flagship 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which Kuo says will launch in the first quarter of 2021.
Back in December 2019, DigiTimes reported that Taiwan-based supply chain makers including Epistar, General Interface Solution (GIS), Taiwan Surface Mounting Technology (TSMT), Zhen Ding Technology and Flexium Interconnect were poised to receive orders for components to be used in a 12.9-inch mini-LED iPad Pro that Apple was said to launch in calendar third-quarter 2020.
Earlier in December 2019, Ming-Chi Kuo reiterated that Apple was planning four to six products with mini-LED displays over the next two to three years, including a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro for Q320.
Last May, Focus Taiwan reported that Apple planned to expand its investment in Taiwan by building a new plant in the Longtan section of Hsinchu Science Park, northern Taiwan.
This adds further confirmation that Mini LED is ready for the type of high volume production Apple requires as, earlier in December 2019, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reiterated that Apple was planning four to six products with mini-LED displays over the next two to three years.