Taiwanese DRAM firm sets up LED venture

ProMOS Technologies, a Taiwan-based DRAM maker, decides the time is right to enter the LED business. Elsewhere in Taiwan, companies continue to focus on the use of LEDs in display backlighting.

Two Taiwanese companies from the mainstream silicon semiconductor industry have set up a new joint venture company called EpiLED, which will focus on manufacturing unpackaged blue LED chips.

ProMOS Technologies, a maker of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, and equipment vendor Hermes-Epitek have raised NT$550 million ($16.8 million) to get the chip manufacturing firm up and running.

ProMOS has sunk NT$160 million of its own money into the venture, for a 29% stake, and is expected to provide the MOCVD equipment required for volume wafer manufacturing at EpiLED's fab in the Tainan Science Park. Pilot production is expected to start early in 2007.

Hermes-Epitek, which has invested NT$80 million for a 14.5% stake, sells a variety of chip processing equipment, including ion implantation, wafer probe, etching and inspection kit.

EpiLED's entry into the blue LED chip market comes at a time when the industry is in an over-supply situation with very low pricing and strong competition. Consolidation, such as the merger between Epistar and United Epitaxy Company, is already taking place.

However, ProMOS believes it can leverage its semiconductor manufacturing expertise and that new applications such as large-scale LCD backlights, automotive lamps and indoor lighting will drive high growth in the LED market.

Thanks to www.CompoundSemiconductor.net for information used in this story.

Display companies invest in LEDs

Several Taiwanese companies involved in manufacturing LCD panels and CCFL lamps have invested in LED companies, according to an article on the DigiTimes website.

AU Optronics, a leading LCD panel maker, has acquired a 25% stake in LightHouse technology, an LED packaging firm, as part of AUO's long-term strategy in this market.

Wellypower Optronics, a CCFL maker that is part-owned by AUO, announced in February that it would invest NT$150 million in Highlink Technology, which specializes in blue and green LED chips and epiwafers.

Meanwhile, LCD panel maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics has increased its stake in LED chip maker Formosa Epitaxy to nearly 10%.

LED makers target backlighting

Two Taiwan-based LED makers are developing white LED-based products for use in LCD backlighting, according to an article on the DigiTimes website.

Harvatek has landed orders from Japan for LED backlight units (BLUs) for 7-inch LCDs that use 21 white LEDs per panel. The company is trying to shift its focus from handset keypad applications, which currently account for more than 80% of its revenues.

Bright LED Electronics has completed the development of 17-inch BLUs that use two light bars containing more than 40 white LEDs each. Trial production and sample shipments have already begun.

More in Indoor Lighting