Freescale enters LED market with samples of LED backlight driver ICs
-- Freescale illuminates LED growth markets with new power management integrated circuits
Austin, Texas and Tokyo -– Addressing the burgeoning market for energy-saving, environmentally friendly LED technology, Freescale Semiconductor is now sampling the first LED backlight product in its power management IC portfolio.
The new 10-channel MC34844 white LED driver IC is designed for LED backlights in notebook computers, as well as in flat-panel monitors with screen sizes ranging from 10 inches to 27 inches.
According to IMS Research, the market for semiconductors used in backlighting applications, including LED driver ICs, is expected to grow from $1.1 billion (USD) in 2008 to $2.0 billion in 2012. Currently, LED backlights are prevalent in smaller liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for cell phones, GPS devices and PDAs. However, LEDs are now being implemented in larger LCD modules used in laptops, monitors and large-screen TVs.
“We expect the market for LED backlighting in notebooks, monitors and TVs to grow strongly,” said Jamie Fox, a market research analyst for IMS Research. “In notebooks in particular, rapid growth is widely expected from 2008 to 2010.”
“LED backlighting is a disruptive technology that will spur innovation and growth in the LCD market and enable more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly LCD displays,” said Arman Naghavi, vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Analog, Mixed-Signal and Power Division. “As a leading analog supplier, Freescale is well-positioned to deliver advanced driver ICs for LED backlighting applications. The market for LED backlights offers untapped potential as growth opportunities expand from laptops and monitors to LCD TVs and automotive, consumer and industrial lighting applications.”
LED technology offers many advantages over conventional cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) lighting systems, which are widely used in conventional LCD displays. LED backlighting enhances the user viewing experience, offers more flexible backlight architectures and enables thinner display designs. Additional benefits of LED backlighting over conventional CCFL technology include higher efficiency (more light at a given power), reduced power consumption, a five-fold longer lifespan, enhanced durability, and up to 100 times better contrast ratios for clearer definition on screen.
A key benefit of LED technology is that it is free from mercury, a substance known to be toxic to humans. Mercury is a key material in CCFL lighting systems, which are used in 99 percent of existing LCD TV displays. In Europe, the European Directive on the Restriction of Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electronics (RoHS) has mandated that manufacturers must move to mercury-free LEDs.
Growth markets: TV and lighting
Freescale analog and power management solutions are at the heart of numerous energy-saving advances used in consumer electronics, large appliances, automotive systems and motor control. With the launch of its LED backlight driver IC portfolio, Freescale plans to expand into growing backlighting markets, such as large-screen digital TVs and commercial lighting. Conventional LCD TVs without LED backlight technology are major energy consumers within households. LED backlights with local dimming can help reduce power consumption by up to 30 percent by allowing manufacturers to adopt thinner, lighter form factors.
Freescale plans to announce LED backlighting solutions for LCD TVs in Q1 2009. Also in 2009, the company expects to pursue the LED lighting market for automotive, commercial and residential applications, which is expected to eventually dwarf the LCD TV market.
About the MC34844 LED driver IC
Freescale’s MC34844 IC is the industry’s most compact LED backlight driver IC solution for large notebook and monitor applications. Capable of driving up to 160 LEDs in 10 parallel strings, the highly integrated device provides greater LED control capabilities than any other single-chip solution currently available.
The MC34844 provides an exceptional level of intelligence for LED backlighting. The pulse-width modulation (PWM) generator supports LED dimming, a feature that helps improve picture quality and enables a long screen life. The device also is designed to deliver consistent performance over the lifetime of the LEDs by compensating for optical and temperature degradation.
Using the device’s I2C / SMBus interface, developers can program the LED current, PWM frequency and PWM duty cycle for the LEDs. Multiple devices can be synchronized for driving more LEDs. The MC34844 is engineered to remove the burden on the controller for PWM generation and to eliminate the need for PWM signals to travel through the printed circuit board, which can cause noise and electromagnetic compatibility performance issues.
MC34844 product features
-- Input voltage 7V to 28V
-- 3.5A integrated boost
-- Output voltage up to 60V
-- 10-channel current driver with ±2% current matching
-- Programmable LED current with up to 55mA current per channel
-- Dynamic headroom control to improve device efficiency
-- Multiple control options
-- I2C / SMBus interface
-- PWM input
-- Analog control
-- Programmable PWM generator from 100Hz to 20kHz frequency
-- PWM synchronizing capability for improved matching between devices
-- User-programmable overvoltage protection
-- LED open failure detection and OTP/OCP/UVLO lockout
-- 32-pin 5x5x0.8mm TQFN package
Pricing and availability
Freescale is currently sampling the MC34844 LED driver IC for laptops and monitor applications. Broader market availability is planned for Q4 2008. The suggested resale price of the MC34844 in 10K quantities is $1.44 (USD).
About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial, networking and wireless markets. The privately held company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations in more than 30 countries. Freescale is one of the world's largest semiconductor companies with 2007 sales of $5.7 billion (USD). www.freescale.com.
Allie McCormick, Account Representative Lois Paul & Partners