Market and Technology Trends
By Yole Intelligence —
Will microLEDs be the forever upcoming display technology? As OLED continues improving, microLED must accelerate commercialization and deliver strong differentiation.
- 2022-2030 MicroLED Display Panel Volume Forecast per Application
- 2022-2030 MicroLED Display Panel Revenue Forecast per Application
- 2022-2030 Chip On Wafer Revenue Forecast per Application
- Overview of Major Ecovystems
- 2022-2032 Cost Evolution Roadmaps
- Equipments Overview
- Processes Overview
- Architecture overview
- Recent News and Prototypes
MicroLED Display applications: which applications could microLED displays address and when?
- Understand microLED’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for each applications (SWOT).
- Understand the dynamic of adoptions for each applications.
- Volume and revenue forecasts (displays, wafers)
Competitive landscape and supply chain
- Investments in microLED: who, how much?
- Identify the key players and major ecosystems.
- Current and upcoming pilot lines, fabs and display modules projects.
- Identify the key trends in technology development, equipment, and manufacturing. Who’s taking the lead? Key partnerships.
- Scenario for a microLED display supply chain: OEM, display makers, equipment makers, startups, and technology providers.
- Impact on the global display supply chain.
Understand the fundamentals and status of microLED technologies:
- Technology status and roadmaps.
- Recent progress, remaining pinch points.
- Cost targets and roadmaps.
Further delays in manufacturing ramps at many leading players. Acceleration of the effort by Chinese players. Increasing focus on stacked / monolithic RGB architectures for microdisplays. Smartwatch and Automotive will be the first volume application to materialize.
Scope of the report
About the Authors
Three Page Summary
- Which Directions for The MicroLED Industry?
- Supply Chain and Application Dynamics
- Technology and Equipment
- AR Microdisplays
- Laptops and Tablets
- Forecast Summary
Investment and Manufacturing Ramp Up
- Chip Manufacturing
- Mass Transfer and Assembly
- Yield Management:
Inspection, Metrology, Testing and Repair
- MicroLED Efficiency and Display Power Consumption
- MicroLED Die Architecture
- Transparent, Flexible and Stretchable Displays
Annex I: Introduction to MicroLED Displays
Annex II: Mass transfer and Assembly
Annex III: Yield Management
Annex IV: Driving
Annex V: MicroLEDs for Datacom Optical Interconnects
Advantest (JP), Aixtron (DE), Aledia (FR), Alphabetter (CN), ams-Osram (DE-AT), ANI (KR), Applied Materials (US), Allos Semiconductor (DE), AMEC (CN), Apple (US), AQlaser (KR), Ascending Optronics (CN), ASMPT (SG), AUO (TW), Avegant (US), BOE (CN), CEA-LETI (FR), Charm Engineering (KR), ChipFoundation (CN), Coherent (US), Contrel (TW), Cyberoptics (US), Delphi Laser (CN), eLux (US), Enkris (CN), ENNOSTAR (TW), ENJET (KR), EpiLED (TW), Epistar (TW), Extremely PQ (CN), FitTech (TW), Foxconn (TW), GlobalFoundries (US), Google (US), GPM (TW), HSET/Hans Laser (CN), HC SemiTek (CN), HKUST (HK), Hymson (CN), IQE (UK), Intel (US), Innolux (TW), Innoscience (CN), Innovation Semiconductors (US),InZiv (IS), ITRI (TW), Jade Bird Display (HK), Junwan (CN), KLA (US), Konka (CN), Kopin (US), LG (KR), Kulicke & Soffa (SG), Lattice Power (CN), LC Square (KR), Lextar (TW), Leyard (CN), Lumileds (US), LuxNour (US), Meta (US), MICLEDI (BE), Mikro Mesa (TW), Mojo Vision (US), Nanoex (KR), Nanosys (US), Nationstar (CN), Oxford Instruments (UK), Panel Semi (TW), Picosun (FI), PlayNitride (TW), Plessey (UK), Porotech (UK), Q-Pixel (US), Rayleight Vision (CN), Raysolve (CN), Samsung (KR), Sanan (CN), Saphlux (US), Sapien Semiconductors (KR), Seoul Semiconductor (KR), Sharp (JP), Shinetsu (JP), Sitan Technology (CN), Smartkem (UK), Smartvision (CN), Sony (JP), Soft Epi (KR), SPTS (US), STAr (TW), StrataCache (US), Stroke PAE (TW), Sundiode (US), SUSTech (CN), TCL-CSOT (CN), Tetos (KR), Teyitech (CN), Tianma (CN), Topcon (JP), Top Engineering (KR), Toray Engineering (JP), TSMC (TW), Ultra Display Tech (TW), Veeco (US), V-Technology (JP), Visionox/Vistar (CN), VueReal (CA), Vuzix (US), X Display (US), and more.
MicroLED displays: a $2.3B opportunity by 2030. Or could it be $12B?
The future of the microLED display market will depend on what we call “PUSH” and “PULL” application categories:
In the "PULL" category, microLEDs offer significant differentiation for AR, automotive, and specialty applications. Device manufacturers are eager to adopt them once performance and cost goals are met. However, AR applications face challenges beyond displays, and widespread consumer adoption is not expected until 2028-2029.
In the "PUSH" category, microLED technology could make headway in phones, watches, TVs, tablets, and laptops despite the dominance of OLED in these areas. To succeed, it requires strong champions—companies willing to invest substantial resources to guide microLED through its complex developmental journey.
The success of microLED technology in consumer applications, notably Apple's watch, is crucial for nurturing the automotive ecosystem. Meanwhile, despite high initial costs, Samsung's commitment to microLED TVs has the potential for substantial revenue.
To deal with these uncertainties and provide a consistent analysis, two application-dependent scenarios are discussed in this report: a “BASE” case and a “FULL PENETRATION” case.
Horizontal ecosystems are setting up to compete in MicroLED industry
Managing every aspect of the supply chain is challenging. It is shaping up to be more horizontal than traditional displays. Except for microdisplays, it is unlikely that any player will fully integrate vertically. This means margin stacking as display makers source Chip-on-Wafers (CoW) or Chip-on-Carriers (CoC) from LED makers rather than making their own.
More than a competition between companies, it’s a competition of ecosystems, which, in China and Taiwan, are defined along geographic lines.
Taiwan’s ecosystem covers all critical microLED development and manufacturing aspects: chips, mass transfer, backplanes, displays, and most of the equipment. In April 2023, multiple Taiwan display industry associations (TDUA, TDMDA, etc.) and more than ten companies (AUO, Innolux, etc.) formed a domestic microLED alliance.
China’s display and LED industry development initially relied on foreign equipment. This is changing, and microLED presents an opportunity for domestic tool makers to play a crucial role in mass transfer and test and repair.
Unlike Taiwan and China, Korea hasn’t developed strong ecosystems with clear alliances between major players along the supply chain. However, LG and Samsung have historically had strong ties and control over domestic equipment players that they are leveraging to lure them into developing microLED tools and processes.
Make MicroLED cheaper to get it adopted
Price reduction is the primary challenge facing microLEDs in penetrating the mass markets. As the price of microLED displays relates directly to the semiconductor usage, the LED size will have to decrease to bring down the display price. For example, with 34x58 µm2 dies, LED is the most significant contributor to the bill of materials: $17,000 per 4K TV at the 2022 low-volume price of $10,000 for a 6” RGB CoW triplet.
PlayNitride already offers ~15x30 µm2 dies for AUO, Tianma, and others in many demos. XDC has been using 8x15 µm2 for many years. Increasing the availability of microLED chips from dedicated fabs such as Epistar, ams-Osram, HC SemiTek, etc., will enable significant cost reductions and yield improvement through 2025-2027. Smaller dies and cheaper CoW could reduce the die cost to below $240 by 2028 and $40 in the longer term. How small the die can get is an open question. With low pixel density displays (TV), each die has to work harder for a given brightness. If the EQE of small dies do not improve, they won’t be able to deliver target brightness.