by Jin S. Kim
via Brian Caulfield, Forbes. Peter Misek, Jefferies & Co.:
Also, we believe that Apple and Sharp together have a modified IGZO (indium, gallium, zinc) technology to achieve 330 dpi, which is sufficient for an HD display while not using IPS nor having to include dual-bar LED backlighting. In our view, this should lead to several design advantages, namely the device can be thinner, battery life should be longer, and the overall experience for users should be meaningfully improved.
The benefits of IGZO are plenty: lower cost of manufacturing, up to 30x higher electron mobility than a-Si (amorphous silicon), increased aperture ratio for improved light transmittance, higher resolution in terms of ppi, etc. IGZO would allow for significant cost reductions compared to LTPS (Low Temperature Poly-Silicon) based high resolution LCDs like the rumored 9.7-inch 2048×1536 IPS LCD for the iPad 3.
Misek claims Apple purchased US$500 million to $1 billion in display manufacturing equipment to be installed at Sharp’s Kameyama-based G6 LCD fab for the purpose of producing IGZO-based LCDs for iPhones and iPads.
Update: Juro Osawa, The Wall Street Journal:
Sharp already supplies LCD panels for Apple’s iPhone smartphones, according to the person. The company will be supplying panels for the next iPhone, which is also expected to launch sometime next year, the person added.
“The person” is someone familiar with this matter. I’m guessing Apple will move away from mentioning IPS when touting its display on the iPhone and focus on it being Retina. I expect the same thing for the upcoming iPad 3. And this might explain why there has been a dip in display quality in the iPhone 4S.
Update 2012.02.21: Raymond Soneira:
Update – it is now clear that it is extremely unlikely that IGZO Retina Display LCD panels will be ready for the March iPad 3 launch. Sharp has stated (in their end of 2011 financial statements on the Japan website) that they are experiencing “significant delays” with IGZO, and that production is “expected” to begin in February in the Kameyama No. 2 Plant (not the Sakai Plant as some Wall Street analysts have stated). The word “expected” has been used for a year now to describe IGZO production. Starting production for a new technology is always slow and iffy so at best it will take months to get IGZO panels into iPad 3s. So, unless Sharp is providing misleading information (illegal in the US for a public company) the iPad 3 will not have Sharp IGZO Retina Display LCD panels for many months (if indeed they are coming to the iPad 3).