Global shipments of TDDI (touch and display driver integration) chips are expected to more than double to 326 million units in 2018, propelled by surging demand, according to an estimate of Digitimes Research.
The strong shipment growth for TDDI chips will not fully reflect the actual demand, as many downstream end-device makers have been forced to use out-cell touch solutions instead of TDDI chips for their products due to capacity constraints at some TDDI suppliers and lack of foundry support, Digitimes Research has found.
Novatek Microelectronics managed to outrace rivals Synaptics and FocalTech System to become the largest supplier of TDDI chips in the second quarter of 2018, buoyed by its ability to secure sufficient capacity from wafer foundry houses.
The prospects of the industry are bright in 2019 with total shipments likely to increase by 100 million units over the amount shipped a year earlier, as industry players including Ilitek, Elan Microelectronics, Himax Technologies and Solomon Systech will be ready to enrich their TDDI chip profiles in the coming year.
TDDI chipmakers are also foraying into the automotive sector as the production of in-vehicle TDDI chips is able to yield higher margins due to high technology barriers, as well as to gain priority support from foundry houses. With some automakers in Europe and Asia already beginning to adopt TDDI chips, industry players also believe the automotive sector will be the next fast growing market for them in addition to the smartphone sector.
The growth of out-cell touch solutions will depend on whether smartphone vendors will continue to support the use of stylus. Shipments of out-cell touch chips may remain brisk in the first half of 2019, but may turn weak if the use of stylus loses steam or if TDDI chip suppliers begin to cut prices due to the availability of new products or capacity.