MicroLED displays are pushing the display in the semiconductor supply chain
In 2017, µLED displays were expected within five years. But the sprint has turned into a marathon; volume production is still 3-4 years away. $11.5 billion has been spent so far, with a record-high investment in 2023 exceeding $400M. For AR and automotive applications, µLEDs offer strong differentiation, while for phones, watches, TVs, and laptops, µLED needs companies willing to commit vast resources.
MicroLED displays promised better performance than OLED on all key metrics, but as µLED continues being pushed back, OLEDs continue improving. There is now a sense of urgency for µLED to succeed before OLED’s progress erases all opportunities for differentiation. More than a competition between companies, it’s a competition of ecosystems, which, in China and Taiwan, are defined along geographic lines.
Driving µLED is more complex than OLED. There is a growing momentum for more disruptive architectures based on Si-CMOS microdrivers. These microdrivers could open a path for strong differentiation against OLED, delivering clear performance and functionality advantages and pushing the display industry into a silicon world.
However, MicroLED manufacturing is complex and immature. The industry hasn’t yet converged on a single path. However, technology is progressing on all fronts, and there is more clarity on what works and what doesn’t than there was 24 months ago. So volume production should be around the corner…