Next-Gen Displays Enabling Super-Friendly Devices (Part 3)

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Eco angles - power, heat, greenness

Users want to use their mobile devices for longer hours on a single charge. So it is critical that these devices consume less power. For larger displays, it is a matter of reducing electricity bills. Hence companies are coming up with several innovative technologies to reduce the power consumed.

Japan Display showcased a reflective LCD panel with power consumption as low as 3 mW at the time of displaying a still image. The panel has a 17.8cm screen and is targeted at mobile devices that require low power consumption.

Japan Display has used a low-temperature polycrystalline silicon TFT as the driver element. It has also included a static RAM circuit on each pixel to retain image data to be written, with the aim of lowering power consumption. Another distinctive aspect of this display is that the company has achieved a natural dis­play like paper by optimizing the optical design of the scattering layer.

Materials engineering is also con­tributing a lot to making cooler and power-efficient displays. An organic LED display, for example, if designed properly uses only 40 per cent of the power of a comparable LCD. Nano­technology has also given rise to better structures, materials and technologies. Cambridge University's polymer organ­ic light-emitting diode (P-OLED) dis­play is an example, which is extremely eco-friendly and power-efficient. P-OLEDs are basically OLEDs made with conjugated polymers.

The heat dissipated by the display is also a critical factor. If a display heats up, its basic components wear out faster and the life of the display goes down. If a lot of heat emanates from the display, it will also affect the surrounding parts of the device - this is very critical for mobile devices where the components are packed closely together. A hot device is also difficult to hold in your hand. So this is another point of innova­tion for display-makers.

Greenness is a universal parameter that almost all industries are focusing on. The eco-friendliness of products is a very important factor as it influences product ratings, customer decisions and the manufacturer's social responsibility in general. At GITEX 2012, Panasonic was apparently the largest exhibitor and its focus was on eco-friendly products. The company claims that its displays are free of lead, mercury and other toxic substances that can harm the environment.

Little chips, big wonders

It is possible for display makers to quickly design and manufacture prod­ucts with a range of readily-available intellectual property and programma­ble components.

The field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) available from companies like Xilinx and Altera enable faster adoption and migration to the latest technology and standards, interfaces and codecs due to their programmability and flex­ibility. This allows manufacturers to evolve from 3D TV to Digital Cinema (4K2K) and ultimately to 8K4K Ultra HDTV (such as what was used in thea­tres in London to broadcast the Olym­pics footage this year).

A sample of 8K4K Ultra HDTV

A sample of 8K4K Ultra HDTV

"Emerging display technology is an area where FPGAs are always needed, given the newness of the technology. There has been a tremendous amount of innovation and breakthrough in semiconductor and IC technology relative to bringing immersive display technologies such as 3D TV, LED local dimming and 4K2K (Quad HD) to life," says Aaron Behman, senior product marketing manager-Broadcast & Con­sumer Segment Marketing, Xilinx Inc.

He adds, "The precipitation of mo­bile devices putting constraints on vid­eo production and the reach of video networks (to fuel mobile-based insatiable video demands and the like) put the spotlight on FPGAs, which are increasingly the only op­tion to meet the demands of an ever-changing broadcast industry. A growing num­ber of OEMs are adopting these flexible devices because hard-cast silicon solutions like application-specific inte­grated circuits (ASICs) and application-specific standard products (ASSPs) geared for implementing system integra­tion and video processing, are too expensive and take too long to develop in an era of rapid standards evolution. The combination of pro­grammable devices, market-specific intellectual property, reference designs and hardware boards fosters broad­cast design innovation and algorithm enhancements that deliver real-time capabilities of HD and higher resolu­tions of Digital Cinema and 4K2K."

The latest 28nm-based FPGA plat­forms from Xilinx Inc., for example, are aimed specifically at speeding time to market, helping both con­sumer electronics manufacturers and broadcast equipment designers drive up the quality of video, overcome the challenges of processing and moving uncompressed high-definition, 3D and 4K video streams, and lower costs with minimized bill of materials.

As the next innovation wave - 4K2K - breaks into the mainstream, delays to market will result in missed revenue opportunities. Xilinx's proven reference designs are geared to shorten time to market for highly differentiated and high-performance visual systems. For instance, Xilinx' Display Targeted Design Platform (TDP) consists of a Kintex-7 FPGA hardware platform with an Acquisition, Contribution, Dis­tribution and Consumption (ACDC) 1.0 baseboard developed by Tokyo Electron Device. The Display TDP ena­bles the stitching together of four 1080i video streams into a seamless 4K2K image by simultaneously increasing performance while reducing power consumption as compared with previ­ous solutions.

Xilinx' Zynq-7000 family further delivers to customers not just an FPGA or an FPGA with a processor but a truly programmable system-on-chip (SoC) wherein the hardware, software and I/O are each fully programmable. It ena­bles the development of monitors and multi viewers (for example) that require incoming video to be de-interlaced and scaled in real time to support monitor formats up to 4K resolution or in 3D with no loss of video quality. Now mul­tiple windows, 3D graphics for games and immersive ultra-realistic viewing beyond HD, to name a few, are pos­sible - all ultimately changing the way consumers watch and interact with TVs.

Xilinx's Zynq-7000 applications

Xilinx's Zynq-7000 applications

Something to look forward to

The display industry is indeed shap­ing up quite excitingly. Brighter, high-performance, high-definition, low-power, 3D, sun-readable, interac­tive, immersive - there is just too much happening. And, the trend appears to be on a high!

The display industry is indeed shap¬ing up quite excitingly.

The display industry is indeed shap­ing up quite excitingly.

"There have been a lot of innova­tions in display over the last several years from electrophoretic displays that are used in eReaders like the Kindle, to new MEMS-based displays like the Qualcomm Mirasol display to OLED displays. All of these technolo­gies will compete against the tried and true LCDs, which will be very hard to displace given the existing invest­ment in manufacturing infrastructure. However, OLED displays are a very competing technology to watch out for, given their power performance and the fact that they can be bent to shape," says Behman. "4K2K displays, or displays that are 4x the resolution of full HD, are also interesting technolo­gies. These displays will offer more detail than full HD. Many models will be hitting shelves this holiday season in the US."

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