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Micron Moves Into Micro-Projector Imagers

Boise, Idaho — Memory chip maker Micron Technology said Wednesday it has acquired DisplayTech, a manufacturer of small display screens for camera viewfinders and display chips for Pico-style projectors, for an undisclosed amount, and is using some of its new assets to introduce today a new microdisplay panel small enough for placement in handheld devices like iPods or BlackBerrys.

The introduction of the new microdisplay device marks the computer RAM chip maker’s new direction in producing a broader range of products based on its semiconductor competency.

The new panel was said to be a wide-screen quarter VGA (WQVGA) microdisplay solution designed to enable portable video and image projection for applications including head-mounted display products and embedded cellphone projectors.

It is based on ferroelectric liquid crystal on silicon (FLCOS) technology, which Micron said produces superior image quality and color fidelity to other competitive micro-projector display solutions.

The device is offered as a single chip and is said to require “minimal power” to operate.

“The FLCOS microdisplay technology that Micron has acquired from DisplayTech has demonstrated success in the market, clearly evident by the fact that more than 21 million panels have shipped in portable consumer electronic products,” stated Abid Ahmad, Micron’s silicon and systems group director. “With Micron now delivering this technology, we are well-positioned to provide our customer base with global support and an even stronger R&D platform to further extend FLCOS microdisplay technology.”

The chip consumes only 85 milliwatts, and is said to be suited for applications where portability and battery life is most critical. The product adds to Micron’s DisplayTech FLCOS microdisplay projection panel line, which includes QVGA, VGA, SVGA and WVGA panels.

Micron said the chief attribute of its FLCOS microdisplay approach is fast switching speed, which is said to be up to 100 times faster than traditional LCOS technology. This is important for using field sequential color, which, unlike color filtering, produces full color on each individual pixel, blending color by very rapidly integrating red, green and blue frames in sequence, Micron said.

When compared to Texas Instruments’ micromirror technology, FLCOS allows for “a fully integrated microdisplay solution, combining the display panel, memory, image processing and light driver control into one chip.” This reduces size and power requirements.

DisplayTech, which is based in Longmont, Calif., has shipped 21 million small display devices to such companies as 3M and Kodak.