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Annual revenue for driver integrated circuits (ICs) will peak at $6.8 billion in 2017, due mainly to the demand for higher resolution displays in smartphones and other applications. Smartphones boasting full high-definition (FHD) and 4K-resolution displays are on the rise, which is contributing significantly to the increase in driver IC revenue, according to IHS Inc., the leading global source of critical information and insight.
“To increase revenues panel makers are trying to reduce the number of driver ICs in their displays,” said Tadashi Uno, senior analyst and researcher for IHS Technology. “One way is to use driver ICs with more pins. While in the past the most popular source driver had 720 pins in the past, the latest driver ICs have more than 1000 pins, which drives down the number of driver ICs needed for each display.”
Among the many types of display materials and components, the driver IC supply chain is unique, according to the IHS Display Driver IC Market Tracker. Most driver IC makers are “fabless” companies -- like TSMC and UMC -- that contract out their production, rather than owning their own factories. Due to increased competition in the market, prices and profits for driver ICs dropped dramatically after 2007, which is why foundry makers have de-prioritized driver IC production.
“The lead time from order to delivery in the driver IC market is around three months,” Uno said. “This timeframe is quite long, compared to other materials and components; however, driver IC order delivery and pricing are not affected by the usual supply-and-demand forces.”
IHS is the leading source of insight, analytics and expertise in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 150 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs about 8,800 people in 32 countries around the world.