Technology

Another PC industry blow as smartphone component production causes LCD display shortages

Andrew Sadauskas /

The rapid growth of a range of smartphone components is putting pressure on LCD display supplies, according to a leading industry analyst, with the news likely to come as a further blow to PC manufacturers.

In recent months, there has been growing demand for a number of high-value components for smartphones and tablets, including fingerprint sensors, CPUs, cameras and touch controllers, along with 4K television timing controllers.

According to NPD DisplaySearch large-area displays analyst Peter Su, semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan have increasingly been prioritising the manufacturing of these higher-value components over timing controllers [T-cons] for LCD displays.

In a statement, Su warns the prioritising of higher margin components is leading to a shortage of T-cons.

“The T-con, or timing controller, IC is not a high value component in TFT LCD panels, but it plays a critical role in controlling the driving sequence of the display,” Su says.

“The semiconductor wafer fab companies, such as TSMC, UMC, Samsung, and Global Foundries, have prioritized other devices over T-con and driver ICs. As demand for semiconductors used in mobile devices increases, they tend to crowd out T-con and driver IC production.

“In response to the shortage, T-con and driver IC design houses are not raising prices, but rather are limiting supply, increasing the shortage panel makers face. The T-con and driver IC shortage is forcing panel makers to prioritize as well.”

Su warns the shortage is leading panel makers to prioritise high-demand products such as smartphones and some TV panels over manufacturing notebook PCs.

The news comes as a further blow to the PC industry, which is currently in its eighth consecutive quarter of shipment declines according to recent figures by IDC and Gartner.

IDC’s figures show the PC industry recorded a 4.4% year-on-year slump during the first quarter of 2014, with just 73.4 million units shipped, down from 76.7 million units for the same quarter last year.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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