According to the latest research by TrendForce, due to the wider adoption of AMOLED panels by major smartphone brands including Apple and Samsung, the penetration rate of AMOLED panels in the smartphone market is expected to reach 39.8% in 2021 and 45% in 2022. As AMOLED panels proliferate, there is a growing demand for control ICs for them. However, there is currently not enough manufacturing capacity to ramp up production, and semiconductor manufacturers have yet to implement plans to expand suitable manufacturing capacity. In view of this, the growth in shipments of AMOLED panels in the next year may be limited.
Analysts point out that AMOLED driver chips are larger than many other chips, resulting in fewer chips per wafer, so more wafers are required. The vast majority of AMOLED driver ICs are currently manufactured at 40nm and 28nm. In fact, only Samsung, UMC and GlobalFoundries can mass-produce such microcircuits. SMIC, HLMC and Nexchip are trying to join them when they can start mass production is unclear.
Aside from the lack of manufacturing capacity, the AMOLED driver problem is exacerbated by the fact that each manufacturer’s AMOLED panels have unique characteristics. The need to harmonize specifications, test and make changes, and include different sets of IP cores in the microcircuit, increases development time and does not allow creating universal models.
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