MiniLED and MicroLED: different technologies for different applications
According to Memes Consulting, since Apple acquired Luxvue, a technology startup in 2014, the market's enthusiasm for microLED has grown exponentially. All major manufacturers in the display market have invested in the technology, and other semiconductor or hardware companies such as Intel, Facebook Oculus, and Google are actively participating in the layout.
Along with these news and marketing activities, a new term appeared in early 2017: miniLED. This technology is often described as a "stepping stone" that bridges the gap between technology and application between traditional LEDs and microLEDs. However, there is no universally accepted definition of these terms. As the name suggests, size is a key aspect. Based on the consensus of many vendors we surveyed, the side of the microLED is typically less than 50um, although most products in the market typically tend to be smaller in size from 3 to 15um.
By default, the miniLED fills in the size gap between the microLED and the traditional LED. But in addition to size, the technical and manufacturing infrastructure requirements, as well as the application, vary. microLEDs require major technological breakthroughs in assembly and chip structure, and require significant innovations in manufacturing infrastructure, but miniLED chips only need to scale down traditional LEDs. miniLEDs can be manufactured at existing fabs with little or no additional investment.
In terms of applications, the future of microLEDs is to achieve a breakthrough high pixel density self-luminous display, while the miniLED can be used to upgrade existing LCDs to achieve ultra-thin, multi-zone local dimming backlight unit (BLU), which makes the form factor and contrast performance close. Or better than OLED. In terms of B2B, miniLED is expected to enable low-cost, narrow-pitch LED direct-view displays for digital signage applications such as retail, enterprise and control room applications.
MiniLED display technology and market development analysis
LED industry pattern in 2018
High-end LCD display is the first to promote MiniLED applications
For smartphone applications, miniLED faces the power of OLED, because the price/performance ratio of OLED has made the technology occupy a favorable position in the high-end/flagship segment. With the rapid growth of the number of OLED suppliers and global production capacity in the next five years, OLED costs will continue to decline, and it is expected that market share will further increase and gradually dominate the market.
However, the miniLED has a "brand" in various small and medium-sized high-value-added display fields, and the weaknesses such as cost, lack of usability, and long-life problems (such as burn-in or afterimage) of OLEDs in these fields have yet to be resolved. In tablets, notebooks and high-end displays for gaming applications, miniLEDs offer superior contrast, high brightness and a slim profile at a lower cost than OLEDs.
The automotive segment is particularly attractive, first because of the strong growth potential of the automotive market in terms of quantity and revenue, and because the miniLED can meet the various requirements that automakers desire: very high contrast and brightness, and longevity , adaptability to the surface and durability.
With regard to the last bit of durability, the miniLED offers a significant advantage over OLEDs because the miniLED uses only market-proven technology, LED backlighting and liquid crystal cells, which is not much different from already mature LCDs. As a result, automakers do not need to take risks and hope that new technologies will meet their demanding life, environment and operating temperatures.
In the field of TV, miniLED can help LCD to make up the gap, and regain the market share of high-end, large-size, high-profit segment with more than 65 inches from OLED. For panel and display manufacturers that are not investing in OLED technology, this opportunity is even more attractive, allowing them to see the potential to extend the life and profitability of their LCD plants and technologies.