Chungnam, Republic of Korea — The Crystal Valley Conference and Exhibition (CVCE) is a modest-sized annual display conference with an impressive exhibition, being held here today through Saturday. CVCE is enthusiastically supported by Samsung, whose numerous buildings embrace the hills here, by local government, and by the many Chungnam companies that are part of Samsung’s supply chain.
CVCE alternates its location between two local universities. This year, it’s at Sun Moon University.
After one day, here are some quick notes from CVCE 2010.
There were contradictory comments about Korean companies making further commitments to build fabs in mainland China. On the one hand, convenient access to China’s huge market and rapidly growing TV sales argue for increased involvement. On the other hand, China is proving to be a difficult partner. I was told off the record that China is being slow to grant approvals for fabs that companies have already made commitments to build. In part, this seems to be motivated by favoritism to Chinese companies (primarily BOE). China would like those companies to control the market.
This brings us to a basic strategic mismatch, according to my source. The Korean panel-makers want to sell panels. The Chinese government ministries and Chinese panel-makers want to acquire technology. As a partial result, is Korea’s commitment to not involve any latest-generation fabs. Indeed, said one speaker, Korean companies are making sure that domestically built fabs are three years ahead of what they intend to build in China.
At the exhibition, SNU Precision was featuring its OLED deposition system. The system, SNU President Heui Jae Pahk told me, uses a linear deposition source (not the point source typical of current Gen 4 and Gen 4.5 systems) and is designed to work with Gen 5.5 substrates. I asked him if this was the system Samsung Mobile Display is using in its Gen 5.5 AMOLED fab. Pahk hesitated, and then said yes. How about LG Display? They’re looking at it.
At Samsung’s large booth, the company was showing a variety of things we had seen before, including narrow-bezel displays for tiling, autostereoscopic and glasses-based 3D displays. One thing I had not seen before, other than in photographs, is the company’s 43-inch LCD with 4:1 aspect ratio (1920×480) introduced at Digital Signage Expo this past April. The long-and-thin (or tall-and-narrow) display is intended for subway stations, airports, malls, and schools - places where displays with traditional aspect ratios may not fit. These are applications that have been targeted by custom-sized displays. Now, some of these locations can be addressed with this standard-sized display. The existence of this display, and a generally similar display from NEC, may raise awareness of these kinds of applications, thereby also stimulating the market for custom-sized displays.
In a world where trained engineers can often not find jobs, Crystal Valley is experiencing a lack of human resources, especially for medium and small business.
Samsung is investing in transparent and flexible displays, and in OLEDs for lighting systems.
Finally, Ken Werner (yes, that’s me) presented an invited paper on display opportunities in Brazil, and the generous incentives Brazil provides to companies that invest in manufacturing facilities in the country. People seemed interested.