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Avago launches high-power LEDs as handset market fades

23 Jun 2006

One of the largest producers of visible LEDs introduces its first high-power LED products.

Avago Technologies has made its debut in the high-power LED market with the release of a 1 W device that operates at 350 mA and deliver 40 lm in green, 10 lm in blue and 35 lm in white. The company, which is one of the largest manufacturers of low- and mid-power surface-mount LEDs, says that the ASMT-MX00 product is the just the first in a series of 1 W LED devices.

The announcement is yet another sign of a shift in emphasis away from the low-power LEDs used to backlight small displays in mobile phones and other portable appliances towards high-power LEDs for emerging applications such as general illumination and car headlamps. Although handset backlighting has in recent years been the major engine for growth in the LED industry, demand has slowed and prices have fallen as the market has started to saturate.

This trend is also reflected in the latest high-brightness LED report from market research firm Strategies Unlimited. While the market for high-brightness LEDs grew on average by 46% per year from 2001 to 2004, the report says that growth slowed to just 6.2% in 2005 to reach $3.9 bn. The analysts blame saturation of the mobile phone market and overcapacity in Asia, which has led to price erosion, but at the same time they note that all other applications of high-brightness LEDs grew by a healthy 18%.

Despite the relatively poor performance in 2005, Strategies Unlimited predicts that annual growth rates will be in the 15-20% range over the next few years, with the overall market reaching $8.3 bn in 2010. And while the mobile appliance market accounted for 52% of all revenues in 2005, future growth is expected to be driven by sales of high-power LEDs for illumination, automotive applications, and backlights for LCD monitors and TV screens.

Avago's announcement follows a similar move by Harvatek, a high-volume LED manufacturer based in Taiwan. Harvatek built its business on producing low-cost devices for the mobile handset market, with some 80% of its $6.6 m revenue in 2005 coming from handset applications. But the company now plans to further develop its high-power LED product line for LCD panel backlighting and other lighting applications. Harvatek has already won some high-power LED orders in Europe, and expects to ship 1-2 million units beginning in August.

Avago claims that its 1 W LEDs offer one of the thinnest packages available on the market, at 3.3 mm high. The devices are based on InGaN chips, and have a low thermal resistance of 10 °C/W to prevent the chip from overheating. They cost around $2 in small or moderate quantities.

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