Apple's iPad Air Adopts IGZO Technology for Thinner, Lower-Power Displays

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's new iPad Air marks a significant technological step forward for the company, improving performance while reducing the device's volume and weight by over 25%. Much of the size and weight savings have been enabled by improved power efficiency, allowing Apple to reduce the device's battery thickness and capacity by roughly the same 25%.

    Component thickness reduction in iPad Air

    As noted in IHS iSuppli's component cost analysis released earlier today, the iPad Air now uses just 36 LEDs to light its display, down from as many as 84 in previous generations. Apple has also reduced the thickness of the display assembly, and so it appears that the display is indeed one of the areas where Apple has been able to make the most improvement on size and weight, both in the components themselves and in the battery capacity needed to drive them.

    In a new analysis comparing the iPad Air's display to that of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and the Google Nexus 10, Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies confirms that Apple has indeed changed display technologies in the iPad Air, moving to indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) semiconductor materials from the amorphous silicon (a-Si) compounds used in previous iPads. While rumors of Apple moving to IGZO for the iPad and other products have circulated for several years, Sharp has experienced difficulties ramping up production and it has taken until now for Apple to bring the technology to its products.

    Among the evidence cited by Soneira for his claim that the iPad Air has moved to IGZO technology are power measurements showing that the iPad Air's display offers a 57% improvement in power efficiency compared to previous iPads, a jump that simply would not be possible with a-Si technology. IGZO offers significantly better electron mobility than a-Si, allowing for much lower power requirements. The shift in technology has also enabled other improvements in the display of the iPad Air compared to its predecessor, and Soneira notes that Apple continues to offer an excellent display on its tablet lineup.
    MacRumors spoke with Soneira about the state of the display industry and Apple's potential plans for the future, and Soneira noted that he expects the Retina iPad mini launching later this month to also adopt IGZO technology. If anything, a move to IGZO is more important on the iPad mini than on the iPad Air due to higher pixel density on the smaller device, with a-Si being infeasible for a Retina display at that size.

    While the iPad Air's display is excellent, Soneira notes Apple is no longer at the top of the heap, with Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 display actually performing better than the iPad Air's display. This is made possible by Amazon's use of low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) technology, which offers even better performance and lower power requirements than IGZO.

    LTPS is commonly used on displays for smaller devices such as the iPhone, but Amazon has pushed the technology to the edge by bringing it to tablet-sized displays despite high costs and complicated production. Apple is unlikely to follow Amazon's lead in the near future, in large part due to scalability issues that simply won't support the tens of millions of tablets Apple is producing each year.

    IGZO also offers a more natural transition for display manufacturers, as they can in many cases simply upgrade their existing equipment from current a-Si production, while moving to LTPS would require a complete change in production. IGZO is also just the first of a number of metal oxide semiconductors that show promise for improved display performance, pointing to solid opportunities for the technology to continue to evolve.

    Overall, Soneira notes that the iPad Air display has seen a very solid incremental upgrade, although he does have a few quibbles such as the continued presence of an air gap between the display and the cover glass when Apple has been moving toward laminating the two components together in other products. And with Amazon able to pursue LTPS technology for the Kindle Fire HDX due to its smaller size and lower unit volumes, Apple is finding itself facing stiffer competition in displays where it has long been the industry leader.

    Article Link: Apple's iPad Air Adopts IGZO Technology for Thinner, Lower-Power Displays
  2. garylapointe macrumors 65816


    Feb 19, 2006
    Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
    Really want one of these, but can't justify getting rid of my iPad 4. Yet...

    The geek details of this article fuel that even more...

  3. Locoboof macrumors 65816


    Jun 8, 2008
    Bay Area,Cali
  4. emseven macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2013
    Fantastic news! I've been waiting years for IGZO technology to appear!
  5. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009
    Should decrease time to charge also which is much needed my 3rd ten iPad takes forever to charge
  6. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    Sooo... When are we getting IGZO on the MBP/MBA lines? A 12 hours rMBP 13 should be entirely feasible with this tech or gasp a rMBA 12.
  7. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
  8. SockRolid macrumors 68000


    Jan 5, 2010
    Almost Rock Solid
    As I had suspected. There are few if any ways to get such good battery life without drastic improvements to the display efficiency. IGZO conductors have 40 times greater electron mobility than amorphous silicon, so the conductors can be thinner and more transparent, which allows for better brightness with less power consumption.
  9. emseven macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2013
    Picture this: 12" Macbook Air with Retina IGZO display in 2014. 12 hours battery life.
  10. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Mar 10, 2011
    From what I read, WOW :eek:

    I can't wait to get my iPad Air which arrives tomorrow. Coming from a iPad 1 to iPad Air.
  11. r018u macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    Great read, thanks for posting this article. It's good that Apple are finally moving forward with their display technology after years of rumours.
  12. Tomo2 macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2013
    I almost wish the iPad was the same thickness as the 4th gen. The battery life would have been awesome.
  13. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Could you imagine this in the MacBook Air? You'd only need to charge it every 2-3 days with normal use!

    They'll probably try to make the Air thinner though.
  14. joejoejoe macrumors 65816

    Sep 13, 2006
    does this mean that the display can turn off individual pixels?

    i thought IGZO turns off any pixels that are 100% black to improve contrast, but haven't seen there anywhere in reports mentioning the iPA?
  15. osx11 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    Wouldn't Apple have announced this if it were the case?

    Something seems strange here.....
  16. jamesryanbell macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009
    Yet again, BIG DIFFERENCE. iPad Air is the most significant iPad to come out since the original model (yes, even over iPad 3).
  17. Northgrove macrumors 65816

    Aug 3, 2010
  18. LagunaSol macrumors 601


    Apr 3, 2003
    I get so tired of Apple not innovating and stuff. ;)
  19. Munnichs macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2011
    If those stupid people from UPS would deliver mine, I could see this great iPad myself.............!:apple::apple:
  20. Michael Goff Suspended

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    Incoming lighter Macbook Air... because pounds is far too heavy.

  21. TXCherokee macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2012
    Now that the Mac Pro people aren't complaining anymore on every thread about an update, I want to interrupt this post....Where is the updated Mac Mini??!! :D
  22. Klae17 macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2011
    Eff that. 15 hours please.
  23. Lance-AR macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2012
    Little Rock, AR
    17% + 70% + 20% + 25% + 23% = iPad Air really confuses me.
  24. osx11 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    "Amazon's use of low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) technology, which offers even better performance and lower power requirements than IGZO."

    This is interesting!
  25. WatchTheThrone macrumors regular


    Aug 2, 2011
    Apple sometimes doesn't announce what tech they use if it's gonna confuse the regular user. They'd just rather tell you how thin and how great the battery life still is without telling you what helps it get there.

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