[opendtv] Re: FW: ScalableDisplay: LCOS: New TV Display Elusive

  • From: Tom Barry <trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2005 20:21:30 -0500

I remember reading that in Toshiba's case it was very low yields coupled 
with some sort of a burn-in problem.  But I don't know any further details.

- Tom

Tom McMahon wrote:

> Question regarding the article below - maybe some of the technologists on 
> this list will have answers (or at least theories):
> What exactly is it about LCOS that make it so difficult to produce?  Why is 
> it still a "black hole of investment cash" at this
> point?  The article never pins down the exact issue(s).  Is it a yield 
> problem?  Cost?  Contrast?  Colorimetry?  Latency or response
> time?  Temperature stability or drift?  Life expectancy under bright 
> illumination? 
> -----Original Message-----
> December 30, 2004
> New TV Display Elusive
> Many big firms have worked on a screen advancement called liquid crystal on 
> silicon. But the complexity and cost have led to
> widespread failure.
>>From Reuters
> It reads like a VIP list of failures - Hewlett-Packard Co., Toshiba Corp., 
> Intel Corp., and Royal Philips Electronics.
> Each of these technology powerhouses tried to conquer a promising technology 
> for making thin, big-screen televisions - called LCOS,
> or liquid crystal on silicon - only to back out in defeat.
> "The roadside is littered with those who have tried and failed," said Sandeep 
> Gupta, chief executive of MicroDisplay Corp., a
> privately held designer of LCOS chips based in San Pablo, Calif.
> As the television market moves to bigger and better screens, LCOS is one of a 
> few technologies that, in theory, fit the bill to
> replace bulky cathode-ray tube televisions and costly plasma displays.
> In an LCOS TV set, light reflects off one or more small microchips made up of 
> a layer of liquid crystal and a layer of transistors,
> projecting an image onto the front of the screen.
> The pictures from LCOS sets can be rich and bright. But as more than one 
> technology giant has discovered, LCOS is also a black hole
> for investment cash.
> Meanwhile, Dallas-based Texas Instruments Inc., using another rear-projection 
> technology called digital light projection, has sold 5
> million DLP engines, used in cinemas, projectors and TVs.
> "TI has done a fantastic job marketing DLP," said Bob O'Donnell, director of 
> personal technology at market research company IDC.
> A year ago, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel announced at North America's 
> biggest consumer electronics show that it would reshape
> television with LCOS products.
> "It's real," Intel President Paul S. Otellini proclaimed at the International 
> Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, adding that
> TVs built with its high-definition displays would be on the market by the end 
> of 2004.
> That forecast deeply embarrassed the world's largest chip maker, which 
> delayed the project and then canceled it in October. Intel
> said it overestimated the economic payoff, though experts familiar with 
> Intel's technology say the company had an unrealistically
> complicated design.
> It was deja vu for Chris Chinnock, a senior analyst with market researcher 
> Insight Media. He has watched as project after project on
> LCOS - developed in the 1990s by Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM Corp. and Japan's 
> Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s JVC - has been
> canceled or quietly shelved.
> "It has cast a serious pall and doubt about the technology," Chinnock said.
> Among the first large companies to try to commercialize LCOS was Palo 
> Alto-based Hewlett-Packard, which originally expected high
> volumes of components in 1999. Chinnock said the project was shelved soon 
> after.
> "They couldn't get the price and performance," he said.
> In 2002, France's Thomson pulled the plug on an $8,000 television set built 
> with LCOS panels from Tempe, Ariz.-based Three-Five
> Systems Inc. Three-Five later spun off the LCOS business into another Tempe 
> company called Brillian Corp., which earlier this year
> lost a lucrative deal with retailer Sears, Roebuck & Co. amid component 
> shortages.
> Just before Intel put aside its LCOS adventure, the giant Dutch electronics 
> company Royal Philips Electronics backed out of its LCOS
> project, saying it realized it wasn't "big enough" to bring mature products 
> to market quickly. Japan's Toshiba Corp. also halted its
> LCOS plans after a supply snafu with Hitachi Ltd., Chinnock said.
> What is it about LCOS that seems destined for failure, and what keeps 
> bringing companies back?
> For one, the technology promises a seemingly straightforward technical 
> solution to a problem facing the entire TV industry - how to
> make big, gorgeous TV displays on the cheap. It's an especially attractive 
> idea for chip makers, since LCOS displays get better and
> better as the silicon components gets more advanced.
> And it can be done: JVC is making a big push on a mainstream LCOS set this 
> year, and Sony is using the technology in its high-end
> projectors.
> "If you actually dig a little bit deeper, I think what we've found and 
> concluded is that these were really failed approaches to the
> LCOS solution, which does not necessarily mean that LCOS is dead," Chinnock 
> said.
> Among those trying to turn the technology into a profitable business is 
> MicroDisplay. It has been working on LCOS products for a
> decade.
> Gupta, the company's CEO, said LCOS can be a maddening technology to develop, 
> with engineers fixing one problem only to uncover an
> even deeper flaw. There are eight technological disciplines required to make 
> a good LCOS product, from optical expertise to software
> to analog chip design, more than many companies realize, he said.
> MicroDisplay said it has the advantage - at least until the next big 
> technology company tries again. 
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