Gen 10 Sharp has begun production at its 10G fab in Sakai City, Osaka, Japan. The glass size is 2880 x 3130mm and it will initially have a monthly capacity of 36,000 substrates. The enhanced productivity of the 10G glass vs. 8G is shown in Table 1 (below). As indicated, for panel sizes 32-inch and larger it offers much higher panels per substrate. Even at 52- to 55-inch where the panelization increases by 33%, it will still result in lower costs as the jump to 10G will not boost fab costs by 33%. They would certainly like to focus on sizes which offer the largest productivity benefits as those sizes will translate into the largest cost advantages and highest margins vs. their competitors. At 40-, 60- and 65-inch, they can generate at least twice as many panels per substrate as at 8G. 60-inch is not yet in the market, but it would make sense for them to introduce this product based on their new glass size and the large gap that exists in the market today between 55-inch and 65-inch.
Figure 1. Philips Cinema 21:9
21:9 Sharp has also been promoting 21 x 9 panels from this fab. 21 x 9 panels are closer to the 2.35:1 cinema aspect ratio that is quite popular for DVD and Blu-ray titles. Thus, a 21 x 9 TV would likely have fewer black bars and less scaling for movies, but would require more scaling for broadcast content. The benefits from Sharpâ€™s standpoint are quite significant. As indicated, while they could only produce 55-inch 16 x 9, 8-up on their new fab, they can produce 56-inch 21 x 9, 10-up, generating 25% more output per substrate. Furthermore, the history of the LCD industry indicates that they should be able to sell 56-inch 21 x 9 panels for more than 55-inch 16 x 9 panels making it a double win. Philips has already announced a TV using this panel as shown in Figure 1. I would certainly expect Sharp to launch its own branded 56-inch 21 x 9 TV in the near future.
Advantage But what of other 21 x 9 sizes. 60-inch 21 x 9 will actually allow them to make 2 more 60â€ panels per substrate than 60-inch 16 x 9. 65-inch 21 x 9 will allow them to make 33% more panels per substrate than 65-inch 16 x 9. Thus, if the home theater market will accept this size, Sharp should move aggressively forward with 21 x 9 as it will give them a significant cost advantage resulting in much higher margins than conventional panels.
Table 1. 10G Panelization Benefits vs. 8G
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