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20 August 2007


Backlighting semiconductor market to grow to $4.5bn by 2012

The market for semiconductors in backlighting applications will grow 50% from $3bn in 2006 to around $4.5bn in 2012, forecasts UK-based market analyst firm IMS Research.

LED backlighting has been used for several years in small displays (in portable applications such as portable media players, digital cameras and cellular terminals), and this market is still showing growth.

However, as LEDs are becoming brighter and light guides are becoming more efficient, the number of LEDs required for a specific backlight application is expected to decrease, making LED backlighting more economic for larger displays. The market is therefore increasingly being driven by adoption in medium- and large-sized screens for applications such as notebook PCs (shipping since Q4/2006) and LCD TVs (which are now entering the market as the cost of LED backlight units continues to fall).

With increasing acceptance of LEDs in these applications, IMS predicts that the incumbent cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) market will stall. However, IMS expects CCFL manufacturers to respond with improved products, keeping price pressure high. IMS also expects the development of collaborative innovations such as hybrid backlighting incorporating both technologies.

Similar growth will be shown by the closely related market for ambient light sensors. This is driven mainly by portable applications, since ambient light sensors can automatically adjust the brightness of a backlight to the surrounding light conditions, helping to maximize battery time. In certain mobile applications such as cellular handsets, the display can consume up to 30% of the battery power, IMS notes.