By Ross Young
After years of disagreeing on substrate sizes from 1st Gen to 7th Gen, LCD manufacturers finally standardized on the glass size of 2200 x 2500mm which became the dominant glass size installed from 2007 – 2016 and was adopted by 9 different manufacturers. It was the first time the same glass size was adopted by both Samsung and LG Display since Gen 2 at 370 x 470mm. All of the 8G capacity optimized for 49”, 55” and 65” played a key role in bringing down LCD costs and killing off Plasma TVs. The benefits to standardizing are significant which is why the semiconductor industry has done so for decades. Benefits include:
As in the semiconductor industry, a standard substrate size results in manufacturers competing on performance (resolution, contrast, power, brightness, etc.), process and device technology, cost as well as service and support, commercial terms, logistics, etc.
Creating a world of unique substrate sizes results in more emphasis on specific panel sizes optimized from the unique substrate size. It also:
So, after 9 manufacturers built 2200 x 2500mm fabs from 2007 – 2016, 3 TFT LCD manufacturers have decided to go just slightly larger at 2250 x 2600mm. Companies building 8.6G include:
What is the benefit of this? As you can see in the table below, 8.6G allows manufacturers to produce 10-up 48”, 8-up 50” or 6-up 58” vs. 8.5G fabs at 8-up 48”, 6-up 50” and 3-up 58”. The differences at 45”-48” are probably not worth the risk. The differences at 50” and 58” on the other hand, may very well be. Doubling the output at 58” with potentially similar costs per sheet could be a huge win as depreciation per 58” panel at 8.6G would be 50% of the depreciation per 58” panel at 8.5G. It will be up to these manufacturers to try and make 58” unseat 55” as the new standard above 50”. Are they likely to do so?
It will be HKC’s first TFT LCD line, so it is a risky choice for them from a manufacturing standpoint. From a product and marketing standpoint, they are best known as a monitor OEM and brand. Do they have the marketing muscle to establish 58”? Probably not.
On the other hand, Innolux and CEC Panda have already ramped 8.5G ramps. So, these investments are more of a small expansion of their 8.5G fabs targeting slightly larger sizes. The 3 companies combined are only adding around 160K monthly input capacity, so it is not a lot of capacity. If 58” costs fall as they should and they can land some major brands as customers, they could establish 58” as a standard and we may see more capacity come online at 8.6G. On the other hand, we could see manufacturers once again slightly increase the size and optimize for 60” or a larger size and another slight increase in glass size. However, with 10.5G and 11G fabs under development and risks to new glass sizes significant, it is more likely that 8.6G is the last unique glass size until 10.5G and 11G fabs arrive in a few years.