Gen 8 most important fab for LCD TV panel production

Panel makers are increasingly utilising Gen 8 fabs as they expand their LCD TV panel production.

According to the latest Quarterly Large-Area Production Strategy Report by DisplaySearch, 41 percent of LCD TV panels were production on Gen 8 lines in Q3. This was a 35 percent leap from Q2. And the share is expected to grow by a further 42 percent by the end of Q4.

Meanwhile, six percent of notebook PC panels were made on Gen 6 lines in Q3 and these are also set to grow to nine percent in Q4.

“The evolution of fab generations in the TFT LCD industry is not only a shift to larger glass substrates but also involves moves to increase production efficiency. For example, 32”W LCD TV panels were originally designed to be made in Gen 6 fabs, but more than 70 percent of the 32”W are currently produced in Gen 8 fabs and Gen 6 fabs have gradually shifted to LCD monitor panel production,” said Shawn Lee, senior analyst for TFT LCD production strategy at DisplaySearch.

He added that the recent adoption of 0.5 mm glass substrates in Gen 6 and larger fabs also enhance production flexibility, as panel makers can make notebook and monitor panels in Gen 6+ fabs using the same glass thickness as in smaller fabs.

“The 16:9 aspect ratio prevailing in PC displays also enables Gen 5 and 6 fabs to produce notebook and monitor panels, respectively,” he said.

“For example, panel makers like AUO, CPT and LG Display are starting to produce notebook PC panels in Gen 6 fabs, while AUO, LG Display and Samsung are producing LCD monitor panels in Gen 7 fabs, and Samsung and LG Display are producing LCD monitor panels in Gen 8 fabs.

“This flexibility benefits panel makers as they can more effectively leverage their existing capacities. At the same time, this trend will create trade-offs between production of IT and TV panels.”

Gen 5 fabs dominate production of mini-note/slate PC panels, including 10.1 inch mini-note and 9.7 inch iPad panels, and 89 percent of notebook PC panels are made in Gen 5 fabs, from 11.6 inches to 18.4 inches.

DisplaySearch said that Gens 5–7 are currently the main fabs producing monitor panels, while 50 percent of TV panels are made in Gen 6 or Gen 7 fabs.

FT LCD production inputs were 34.1 million square meters in Q3, a 10 percent decline from Q2. The decrease was due to reduced capacity utilisation.

Korea dominated panel production with a 52 percent share in Q3, which was up from 47 percent in Q2, while Taiwan accounted for 38 percent in Q3, a decline from 42 percent in Q2. Japan had a six percent share and China a four percent share in Q3. DisplaySearch says these shares are expected to hold throughout Q4.

When it comes to company shares, troubled LG dominated the input area with 27 percent of the market, followed by Samsung at 24 percent, Chimei Innolux at 16 percent, AUO at 14 percent and Sharp at 8 percent. DisplaySearch says that based on panel makers’ current production plans, the shares will be similar in Q4.

In the LCD monitor panel production market, area inputs in Q4 will be dominated by LG Display with a 27 percent share, Chimei Innolux with 26 percent and Samsung with 18 percent. AUO scrapes the barrel with 15 percent.

And LG is also dominating in the slate PC panel market producing 9.7 inch slate PC panels on Gen 3.5 and 5, while Chimei Innolux and Samsung are using Gen 5. LG Display plans to produce 9.7 inch panels on a Gen 6 line starting in 2011.