With a limited number of pages, this Electronics Trend Watch could never have addressed all the important trends and certainly could not cover all the critical products. Two product areas that had to receive at least brief mention include memory technologies and displays. Both technologies provide critical capability especially essential to portability and networking.
Behind the Scenes
Key memory technologies that continue to shrink and provide greater product performance and features are Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) and electronic Flash memory. In general, disk drives provide the primary memory storage in desktop and personal computers. HDD technology easily stores hundreds of GBytes in smaller drives and Terabytes in larger form factor drives for servers.
Hard Disk Drives continue to shrink, allowing 12 GBytes of memory storage on something as small as a 1-inch drive. Early in 2006, Seagate announced its ST1.3 Series 12 GByte 1-inch hard drive. With a footprint 23 percent smaller, 50 percent more storage capacity and 30 percent less power consumption than the company's previous 1-inch hard drive, the unit demonstrates several electronics trends.
Electronic memory density continues to increase as well. Following the company's New Memory Growth Model of double density growth every 12 months, Samsung announced an 8-Gigabit (Gbit) NAND Flash memory chip in the summer of 2006. By vertically stacking four 8-Gbit dies into one package and then vertically stacking two 4-GByte packages, Samsung can offer an 8-Gbyte (GB) NAND memory solution in a 12 × 20 mm footprint.
In Your Face Technology
Displays provide the Human Machine Interface (HMI) that literally sits right in front of the user's face. Depending on the application, such as an HDTV, the display could be the newest plasma, Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) or projection displays that include Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology. LCD displays in these and smaller applications traditionally use backlighting from Cold-Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs). The use of LED backlighting started earlier this decade with blue LEDs in cell phones. Based on new technology developments and products, the use of LED backlighting will expand to larger displays.
“We concentrate on using red, green and blue LEDs in order to backlight LCD displays which includes desktop monitors and TVs,” says Paul Scheidt, product marketing manager for LCD backlighting, Cree Inc. Special packaging enables LEDs to provide improved backlighting in these systems that Cree calls Colorwave backlighting systems.
Red, green and blue LEDs create the white light required behind the LCD screen. The major advantage of LEDs over CCFL backlighting is improved color response — more vibrant and lifelike colors. This allows LCD monitors to have similar or better image characteristics than today's plasma displays. LEDs hold promise to reduce motion blur common in LCD displays.
LEDs provide new display features beyond simple backlighting. “When you're putting a red, green and blue chip into the same component package with the right software and circuitry, you have the ability to manipulate what they call color-on-demand,” says Richard Saffa, vice president of OPTEK Technology's Visible LED Business Unit. Used in consumer items, color-on-demand allows color manipulation and brightness for a more dynamic display.
A direct use of LEDs occurs in outdoor television displays. This is the media you see driving down the highway says Saffa. These billboards and dynamic signs change to catch the attention of commuters. OPTEK recently introduced surface mount RGB LEDs that address both of these display applications.
For smaller displays, Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) provide one of the newest display technologies. A mere 1.5-mm thick and power-efficient compared to backlit LCDs, OLEDs such as Kodak's NUVUE Display AM550L provide brilliant colors and high-speed (faster than video) capabilities. The 2.2-inch diagonal (5.5 cm), full-color active matrix demonstrates high definition and a 170-degree viewing angle that makes them very attractive for vehicles and portable electronics applications.