BOE Eyeing on the LCD and OLED Semiconductor Markets

Feb 05, 2020

BOE, a leading Chinese display maker, is accelerating the process of developing its own semiconductors for displays. There have been various activities that suggest that BOE is working on internalizing its own chips such as hiring personnel related to OLED semiconductor in the second half of last year. BOE, which is dominating the LCD market globally, is expected to change the dynamics of the semiconductor market if it succeeds in developing its own semiconductors. Some believe that such success will also have an indirect effect on South Korea’s display driver IC (Integrated Circuit) makers.
According to the industry, BOE is currently hiring people who can develop OLED driver IC through its website.
Through its job posting, BOE indicates that the hired person or people will be designing “silicon-based OLED driver system”. BOE also states that the hired person or people need to have at least three years of experience in designing hardware circuit and debugging.
OLED driver IC is a chip that adjusts current and voltage needed to operate OLED display panel. It is a component that is absolutely needed in order for an OLED screen to operate properly.
Through another posting, BOE states that it is looking for circuit engineers who have experiences with FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array), which is a chip that can voluntarily change properties of a circuit by its user. Although it has been seen as an AI chip, it is also used experimentally within the field of R&D. It seems that BOE is looking for circuit engineers in order to test next-generation display chips.

Job opening post for researchers specialized in circuit on BOE’s website (Reference: BOE’s website) <Job opening post for researchers specialized in circuit on BOE’s website (Reference: BOE’s website)>

BOE is a Chinese company that makes display panels and it has become the number one LCD display maker by beating out South Korean companies due to full support from Chinese Government in recent years.
Along with supply of cheap panels, BOE has been eyeing on display semiconductor business since 2015. There has been news that BOE will be investing $577 million (683.7 billion KRW) that includes a support fund from Chinese Government in semiconductor business. At that time, BOE stated its plan to develop LCD driver IC, enter the display semiconductor market, and vertically integrate components.
It seems that BOE’s recent posts indicate BOE’s strategy to research chips for OLED panels in addition to semiconductors for LCD.
News about BOE’s plan to expand its semiconductor business can be detected from various places within the industry. It is heard that BOE is currently managing a company called “ES WIN”, which is based on investments from South Korean companies as well, and developing relevant technologies.
“It is heard that BOE is preparing to develop ICs for OLED panels and touch driver ICs through this company.” said a representative for the industry. “There have been rumors that BOE has recently brought people from Micron Technology.”
BOE is currently receiving driver ICs from other Chinese companies and Taiwanese companies. However, if it is able to internalize semiconductor chips for LCD, it will have huge impact on relevant industries. Experts believe that BOE will be able to impact semiconductor prices and semiconductor supply systems as BOE was able to quickly dominate the display market through significant reduction in its display prices.
Also, it will be difficult for South Korean display IC design companies such as Silicon Works and Magnachip to secure markets in China. Although they do not have many businesses with Chinese companies at the moment, they have been consistently pushing to expand their businesses towards overseas.
Staff Reporter Kang, Hyeryung | kang@etnews.com

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