Thursday, February 11th 2021

Apple is Reportedly Working with TSMC on a Special Micro OLED Panel Technology

OLED panes are expertise areas of display makers such as LG and Samsung, however, when it comes to Apple, they have to rely on external manufacturers to make a display. For years Apple has been contracting LG and Samsung to make the display for iPhones and Macs, but it looks like Apple is now collaborating with another firm to develop micro OLED technology. According to sources over at Nikkei Asia, Apple is collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop "ultra-advanced display technology at a secretive facility in Taiwan". Despite TSMC not being the traditional choice for panel manufacturing, there is a list of reasons why Apple chose its years-long partner to work with.

TSMC is known for manufacturing silicon chips, however, Apple envisions that the Taiwan maker will manufacture ultra-advanced micro OLED technology using wafers. Building the displays using wafers will result in much lower power consumption and far lower size. Why is this approach necessary you might wonder? Well, Apple is developing a new generation of AR glasses and there needs to be a solid display technology for them to exist. It is reported that the new micro OLED displays are under development and are about one inch in diameter. The source also adds that this is just one out of two projects being worked on inside of Apple's secretive labs located in the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. What is the other project remains a mystery, however, with more time we could get information on that as well.
Sources: Nikkei Asia, via TweakTown, Fraunhofer Silicon OLED Display(Image)
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21 Comments on Apple is Reportedly Working with TSMC on a Special Micro OLED Panel Technology

#1
ZoneDymo
pls stop stressing TSMC even more....ffs Global Foundry would you get your crap together so they can turn to you as well?
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#2
deu
As mentioned earlier my bet is that this OLED is for apples VR/AR breakthrough. I fear that they focus on resolution rather than hertz but again apple would not be satisfied with some blinky experience so heres to hoping for OLED 2160p 120 hz+ (8K displays as earlier stated would be overkill i think)
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#3
DeathtoGnomes
I sorta almost but not quite expect apple to come up with a proprietary cable plug/socket IF these are new monitors not VR.
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#4
R0H1T
ZoneDymo
pls stop stressing TSMC even more
OLED has nothing to do with (Si) foundries.
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#5
Vendor
they shouldn't succeed and TSMC should disagree because we don't want 5x markups on those displays and worse is they might even patent it later
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#6
ZoneDymo
R0H1T
OLED has nothing to do with (Si) foundries.
"Apple envisions that the Taiwan maker will manufacture ultra-advanced micro OLED technology using wafers."

Microleds so yes it does.
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#7
R0H1T
ZoneDymo
Microleds so yes it does.
What wafers & what process (node) tech?
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#8
Valantar
R0H1T
What wafers & what process (node) tech?
Sounds highly unlikely that something like this would use a cutting-edge logic node. I don't see a reason why this would be suitable for a node like that, nor why it would need anything close to that kind of density.
Posted on Reply
#9
WonkoTheSaneUK
DeathtoGnomes
I sorta almost but not quite expect apple to come up with a proprietary cable plug/socket IF these are new monitors not VR.
At only 1 inch diameter, they're either for VR or a new, circular, Apple watch.
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#10
1d10t
At this point I could believe Apple will acquire TSMC sometime in future.
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#11
Vya Domus
R0H1T
What wafers & what process (node) tech?
None in particular, it's a similar story with CMOS image sensors, it's a similar manufacturing process.
Posted on Reply
#13
Valantar
1d10t
At this point I could believe Apple will acquire TSMC sometime in future.
Thankfully there is still some government regulation in the world, so that would never be allowed to happen.
R0H1T
Yes & if you look at other reports it's literally about OLED, little to do with the underlying Silicon.
9to5mac.com/2021/02/10/apple-glasses-displays/
Yeah, using a silicon substrate just lets them make smaller, denser OLEDs.

If I were to guess, this would require some specialized/heavily tweaked process tech, but not on the scale and complexity of high-end logic nodes. @Vya Domus' mention of image sensor CMOS processes is likely onto something. And it might well use smaller wafers (200mm) given the relatively low volumes and much lesser focus on extreme yields when compared to logic dice, especially given the current wafer shortage.
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#14
bonehead123
1d10t
At this point I could believe Apple will acquire TSMC sometime in future
With the amount of business Apple has already been doing & will be doing with them in the future, I would not be surprised if they essentially became a subsidiary of Apple, if in fact gov't regs would stand in the way of an all out aquisition.... :)
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#15
Turmania
I have no idea what this is all about. Oled and TSMC does not compute, I`m sure there is a reasonable explanation to all this, but the Apple I know will not use untested technology in their devices. Too risky for them.
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#16
ixi
1d10t
At this point I could believe Apple will acquire TSMC sometime in future.
I doubt that. Why would TMSC even allow that ? Could even apple pull that off?
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#17
Valantar
ixi
I doubt that. Why would TMSC even allow that ? Could even apple pull that off?
TSMC likely wouldn't want that (they already have 100% of Apple's business, so why risk losing other customers?), though hostile takeovers are a thing. Whether Apple could pull it off? In terms of resources, absolutely, but in terms of regulatory approval? Not a chance.
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#18
ixi
Valantar
TSMC likely wouldn't want that (they already have 100% of Apple's business, so why risk losing other customers?), though hostile takeovers are a thing. Whether Apple could pull it off? In terms of resources, absolutely, but in terms of regulatory approval? Not a chance.
I don't have proof, but I think ( havent checked granny interney ) tsmc is much more worth than apple and they should have more money than apple, as I said havent checked internet. Maybe I'm mistaking.
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#19
Nephilim666
ixi
I don't have proof, but I think ( havent checked granny interney ) tsmc is much more worth than apple and they should have more money than apple, as I said havent checked internet. Maybe I'm mistaking.
Apple is the third largest and first-most profitable corporation on earth.
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#20
voltage
with all their billions, you would think they would make their own. they went back to designing their own cpu's, go back to manufacturing and create jobs for US people already. What a shame Steve Jobs isn't alive, I think he would have done that by now, especially with the car they are planning on. Steve Jobs would have teamed up with Tesla by now. Instead the US has Cook the kook running apple.
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#21
Valantar
ixi
I don't have proof, but I think ( havent checked granny interney ) tsmc is much more worth than apple and they should have more money than apple, as I said havent checked internet. Maybe I'm mistaking.
Not even close. As @Nephilim666 said, Apple is absolutely huge. TSMC isn't even close to the same scale.
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