Taiwanese chip makers expand, introduce new products

News from Taiwan suggests continued expansion among high-brightness LED chip makers and packaging companies, according to the DigiTimes website.

According to the DigiTimes website and news service, Taiwan's LED manufacturers are continuing with their growth plans in order to challenge leading manufacturers such as Nichia and Cree.

Formosa Epitaxy has formally opened its second LED chip manufacturing plant in Lungtan Industrial Park, Taoyuan. The company says it plans to install 45 MOCVD systems for epitaxial growth, which will provide a monthly chip-making capacity of more than 200 million units. Just how long it will take to install such a hugely ambitious total of machines is anybody's guess.

The expansion is driven by a predicted demand over the next 3-5 years for white LEDs for LCD panel backlighting and automotive applications. The company predicts a total revenue of NT$1.2 billion ($36 million) for 2004, up 75% compared with the previous year.

Digitimes also says that Formosa Epitaxy expects to ship, during the third quarter of 2004, 25-30 million blue LED chips for use in mobile phone handsets. Around half of these will be the company's high-luminance products, which it calls digital-penetration ITO (DPI) devices.

While Formosa's shipments of LEDs for handsets should remain flat in the third quarter, Epistar expects a drop in such shipments to around 50 million units, compared with 90 million units in the second quarter. The drop is due to increasing competition in the market and high inventory levels.

Both Epistar and Formosa believe that backlighting of medium-large LCD panels, and camera-phone flash units, will be the major applications for LEDs in 2005.

Arima Optoelectronics also expects to ship around 30 million LED chips for mobile phones, twice as many units as United Epitaxy Company.

Arima also expects to start shipping, in the second quarter of next year, blue LED chips with high electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection of 2000 V. The company says this makes the new chips suitable for automotive applications, display backlighting and outdoor applications, as well as mobile phones.

Meanwhile, Opto Tech, which recently signed a licensing deal with Nichia, says that is plans to ship a total of 500 million Nichia-branded blue LEDs in 2005, ramping throughout the year to a level of 200 million units in the final quarter.

Most of the chips will be in the 8-10 mW output power range, while 10-15 mW devices will be developed next year.

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