Recent years have witnessed notable advancements in Micro LED Package (MiP) and Chip-on-Board (COB) packaging technologies for LED displays, particularly small pitch LED displays. As these two technologies continue to advance there is growing interest within the industry about them.
MiP and COB: Shared Capabilities and Challenges
One of the key questions in industry is whether MiP and COB are directly competing. A closer inspection of products introduced by MiP suggests many overlap with COB technology in small-pitch LED display market; additionally, MiP introduced “chip-on-board” processes into ultra-small pitch LED display market creating direct competition scenario.
COB technology currently holds the dominant market share in LED displays with pixels below 1.0mm, but multi-in-one (MiP in one) technology is becoming an important player. While COB focuses on performance for ultra-small pitch LED display markets, multi-in-one (MiP in one) focuses on cost benefits and compatibility with chip-on-board processes – an area MiP has only begun exploring recently.
Over the past several years, COB LED technology has seen cost reductions, increased market acceptance and an approximate 20% penetration rate at 1.5mm pixel pitch LED displays. COB LED displays are projected to account for 30-50% of demand in below 2.0mm pitch markets – this trend aligns with MiP technology’s potential expansion to larger pixel pitches such as P2.0 or even P3.0-4.0 pitches.
MiP and COB both face unique obstacles outside market overlap, including relatively high costs in ultra-small pitch LED display market. Both technologies also face mass transfer issues at ultra-small pitch LED displays which doesn’t fully address fundamental issue: need for multiple devices per display area.
MiP is compatible with chip-on-board processes but represents a more high-end variant than typical P10 products for ultra-small pitch LED displays, specifically P0.5 LED displays. Both COB and MiP LED technologies involve complex transfers with various degrees of complexity for display production.
Industry experts note that there are no shortcuts in the ultra-small pitch LED display market, leading industry players to traditionally favour COB as the dominant technology due to its shorter industrial process and greater reliability for end products. COB allows businesses to independently master and develop complex integration technologies more quickly; MiP and COB will primarily compete based on costs and user experiences with MiP potentially capitalizing on “chip-on-board” advantages here.
One Technology Upgrades, while Another Replaces: Determining an Ideal Position.
With respect to MiP and COB’s technological relationship, many argue that these technologies do not compete directly; rather they serve complementary roles within an industry’s ecosystem; MiP is seen as a “replacement technology,” while COB provides upgrades.
MiP’s primary advantage lies in its ability to introduce micro/mini LED into markets which had traditionally relied on “chip-on-board” and independent RGB devices. P2.0 products that include smaller LED must accommodate packaging processes that accommodate these miniaturized technologies.
MiP, using mini/micro LED technology, replaces some traditional RGB LED chip products. As part of an ongoing effort to increase LED product efficiency, COB LED technology cannot achieve this outcome.
MiP and COB technologies must address common issues in upper middle and upper segments, including massive transfers, micro LED quality consistency and ultra-small structure repairs. As many industry experts understand it, MiP can be seen as a single RGB packaging technology under COB technology similar to how multi-in-one (MiP in one) technologies were once seen as “COB technologies with only few pixels”, serving similar purposes.
“To evaluate whether it is better to integrate MiP or COB into a whole, or aggregate them individually, industrial practice must be used. Results depend on technological capabilities in upper middle and upper segments; from this viewpoint it seems as though MiP and COB are cooperating towards reaching one goal.”
Walking on Two Legs: Rational Options in Today’s Market
Absen, an industry leader, recently stated their investment in both MiP and COB packaging technologies as they each possess unique benefits that warrant further investigation and development. This strategy mirrors the collective stance taken by industry leaders across upstream, midstream, and downstream players.
On one hand, successful COB technology enterprises will not abandon their technological advantages and previous investments; however, MiP’s potential to replace traditional RGB LED chip products in pitches above 1.0mm compels them to monitor its development closely. Variations in customer preferences is likely to provide opportunities for exploration in ultra-small pitch markets where differences exist between customers that allow MiP exploration.
However, for terminal enterprises that have yet to enter the ultra-small pitch LED market or lack COB technology capabilities, adopting MiP technology becomes their only viable means of entering mini/micro LED era. Their enthusiasm for investing depends on MiP’s cost effectiveness as a solution.
MiP and COB companies take different stances regarding them depending on their customer base and technological capabilities, but no one disputes any particular technology’s future. Industry experts caution against being seduced into one side over the other due to rapid innovation; as a result, choosing one side over the other can leave little room for pivoting later on; to mitigate against risk more robustly, leading enterprises should pursue multiple technological paths at the same time for maximum flexibility.
Cost Competition in Mature Markets Is Key
Since 2021 when MiP technology first hit the market, its growth has been impressive. By 2023 it had become a primary component of industry innovation with key products having established market presence. Meanwhile, COB technology had also experienced substantial development over this timeframe.
Industry players believe COB LED Displays have reached “optimal efficiency”, and are only waiting for a breakthrough in configuration/cost balance to achieve qualitative development. COB’s market substitution rate for typical small-pitch LED applications should reach 15%-16% this year, and could potentially rise as high as 35%-50 within two to three years; meaning their market growth could more than fivefold by 2021!
MiP has long recognized that COB’s first-mover advantage poses one of the greatest competitive challenges to MiP. When considering applications that are unclear, industry competition often revolves around products with pitches greater than 0.7mm. Alongside display performance, consumers also demand reliability, long-term stability, supply maturity and cost competitiveness from products with these pitches; such is particularly evident within mature markets where COB often holds first mover advantage – one of MiP’s greatest competitive challenges.
MiP and COB do not face head-on competition but instead are part of a larger narrative with multiple main characters and comedic conflicts that make for more engaging stories. Cooperation over competition is at the core of this industry’s mission as we recognize each technology’s individual strengths while working toward finding common solutions for common problems.
One aspect is clear: MiP and COB will soon coexist and collaborate to drive industry progress together. Both offer distinct advantages while facing similar challenges that provide an effective solution to meeting the ever-evolving LED display market demands.
As the industry evolves and adapts, success lies in understanding each technology’s advantages and shortcomings and finding its appropriate place within specific market segments. Time will only tell whether MiP and COB become rivals or allies – either way they both play an essential part in LED displays’ ongoing story.
As innovation is unrelenting, harnessing multiple technological paths simultaneously represents a robust strategy to navigate this ever-evolving industry. MiP or COB will ultimately win out depending on which one can meet the evolving demands of LED display markets, but currently the LED display industry is witnessing an exciting interplay between these complementary technologies.