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NEC Electronics Introduces New LCD Driver IC and Interface Technology for Large, Flat-Panel Televisions


KAWASAKI, Japan, April 18, 2006

NEC Electronics today introduced a LCD driver IC and interface technology designed to reduce the overall system cost for large, thin film transistor (TFT) flat-panel televisions. The newly developed Point to Point mini-LVDS (PPmL) interface technology enables a single timing controller to control all source driver ICs of a LCD display. An on-chip digital-analog converter with 12-bit resolution enables high-definition display of 68.7 billion colors, while 720 output channels enable display of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (full high-definition) with just eight source driver ICs, in place of the 12 ICs currently required. This new source driver IC will allow flat-panel TV manufacturers to design large-format LCD displays with impressive contrast and subtle color balance while reducing the part count and system cost.

The µPD160290 is for use with new PPmL-compliant timing controllers currently under development by Texas Instruments Incorporated and Thine Electronics, two leading suppliers of devices for high-definition displays.

The main features of the µPD160290 are:

(1)Enables control of driver ICs with single timing controller
NEC Electronics’ newly developed PPmL interface technology allows a single timing controller to control all of the source driver ICs on an LCD display. Until now, two to four timing controllers were needed to control a 40-inch or larger high-definition LCD display. By reducing the part count to just one timing controller, overall system costs can be reduced.

(2)68.7 billion colors
The core components of a source driver IC are its D/A converter circuits, which process the analog data that drives the display on the screen. Advanced processing technology developed for the new IC has boosted the resolution of its D/A converters to 12 bits from the current 10 bits. This allows the chip to display 68.7 billion colors, compared to the current 1 billion colors. A LCD with the new driver IC can display subtle colors and shadings across a large-format screen with little or no image degradation.

(3)720 output channels
Most of the space in the output blocks of a driver IC is occupied by D/A converter circuits. New technology has made it possible to reduce the size of these circuits, allowing more blocks to be integrated on a single chip. Compared to the 414 to 516 channels of a typical chip, the new chip has 720 output channels, an increase of about 40 percent. This allows the driver IC to display a larger area on the screen. A full high-definition screen can be displayed using only eight of the new chips, four fewer than the number required when 480-channel driver ICs are used. The result is lower part counts, less heat, and more efficient manufacturing.

(4)Linear output
The new driver IC is both compact and versatile, with a chip size comparable to conventional 10-bit chips and linear output that can be programmed in software to match the requirements of different LCD panels. This allows display manufacturers to use the same driver IC in a wide variety of LCD products, without needing to change peripheral parts. Compared to current methods, which require different driver ICs for different LCD panels, the new chip offers greater efficiency in production and parts management.

Thanks to the greater variety of service offerings from broadcasters and declining retail prices, shipments of high-definition displays for use in digital TVs and computer monitors are showing explosive growth. But the popularity of larger displays creates unique problems for designers. Regardless of how many source driver ICs are used, they are spaced at wider intervals on large-format displays, and the increased distance to timing controllers makes it harder to control data transmissions. The traditional solution to this problem is to use a pair of timing controller ICs to control up to 16 source driver ICs, and to connect the pair of timing controllers to a clock distribution IC in a bus configuration. However, this approach requires numerous parts, and the transmission speed may not be fast enough to keep up with high-volume video and broadcast content.

The new source driver IC from NEC Electronics offers a more elegant and cost-effective solution. It allows a single timing controller IC to control up to 16 driver ICs. This reduces the burden on developers of LCD displays and benefits consumers by enabling a better viewing environment. NEC Electronics plans to market this new source driver IC aggressively and is also considering the development of its own timing controller IC.

Pricing and Availability
Samples of the µPD160290 are available now, priced at US$10. Volume production will begin in late 2006, and monthly production is expected to reach 1 million units.

About NEC Electronics

NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets, system solutions for the mobile handsets, PC peripherals, automotive and digital consumer markets, and multi-market solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has 25 subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. ( and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH ( For additional information about NEC Electronics worldwide, visit

NEC Electronics is either a registered trademark or trademark of NEC Electronics Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

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