AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) will Launch LED Backlit LCD TV Panels in Second Half of 2009

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AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) are the two largest Taiwan-based LCD suppliers that go head-to-head with the likes of Samsung and LG Display in terms of LCD panel manufacturing capacity. These two giants are currently finetuning their LCD fabs to mass manufacture LCD TV with LED backlights in the second half of 2009 according to sources based on a DigiTimes article. The transition from CCFL to LED as a lightsource for LCD TVs will accelerate and the companies involved in the LED supply chain will certainly benefit.

Coretronic, a Taiwan-based backlight unit (BLU) manufacturer, confirmed that the company is developing four LED-backlit BLUs with two using edge-type and the other two using direct-type. An edge-type LED BLU incorporates strips of LEDs on the edges of the LCD and allows for very thin profiles. The disadvantage, at the moment, is the inability to mate the slim profile with local dimming technologies. The direct-type LED BLU can incorporate local dimming but will require a much thicker chassis. The sizes range from 40″ to 52″. Coretronic is expected to ship its LED BLUs to AUO and CMO in the fourth quarter.

The timing tells me that AUO and CMO will likely be second source suppliers to major LCD TV brands that will transition to LED BLUs. The transition should accelerate due to several reasons:

  • In 2010 overall demand for LCD TVs should increase as the global economy starts to shifts to a growth stage.
  • The LED BLU supply chain should be robust enough for significant price declines to show in LED-backlit LCD TV panels.
  • Samsung will most likely use AUO and CMO LED-backlit LCD TV panels to slot behind the company’s top-end “LED TVs”. Other LCD TV brands will certainly follow Samsung’s lead.

The leader in LCD TVs that incorporate LED backlights is Samsung. North Amercia shipments of Samsung’s “LED TV” reached 2000 to 3000 units in one week according to sources.

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