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LCDs hit by component shortage

Flat screen makers go flat out

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The LCD screen market has been hit by a component shortage that is drying up TFT production. The problem concerns LCD driver ICs, according to a report on the EETimes Web site (www.eetimes.com). One of the leading manufacturers of the driver chips is NEC - the company has put all customers on allocation and there are three month lead times on all shipments. NEC has outsourced some of its production to Sanyo, the report says, in an attempt to boost production by four million units per month. But with demand outstripping supply by 20 per cent, the problem won't be going away over night. NEC reckons the market for LCD driver chips will double by the year 2002 to 700 million units per year. The driver chip supply problems are affecting all market sectors that use flat screens - from notebook PCs to handheld games machines like the GameBoy, the EETimes piece says, but the explosion in demand for mobile phones has caught the industry on the hop, fuelling the problem. What exacerbated the situation was that TFT driver makers shifted production to handset compatible STN drivers, but that left a shortfall in the TFT market. ® Related stories: TFT shortages to end this year Taiwan beefs up TFT facilities

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