Monolithic microdisplay promises smaller, lighter AR glasses

March 29, 2021 // By Rich Pell
Monolithic microdisplay promises smaller, lighter AR glasses
Advanced microdisplay technology company Compound Photonics (CP) and semiconductor foundry GlobalFoundries (GF) have announced a strategic partnership to manufacture the world's first monolithic microdisplay for real-time augmented reality (AR).

The microdisplay technology platform, CP's IntelliPix, is designed to enable a truly real-time holographic consumer AR experience by enabling smaller and lighter AR glasses that last longer on a single charge. IntelliPix provides a real-time video pipeline, coupled with a fully integrated digital backplane and driver for pixels as small as 2.5 µm, for the first time in a single-chip solution.

CP's proprietary IntelliPix technology is realized on GF's best-in-class 22FDX specialty semiconductor platform, say the companies.

"GF is an ideal partner for IntelliPix, our next-generation monolithic display," says Ian Kyles, vice president of engineering at CP. "Their industry-leading 22FDX platform offers the low-power benefits, density, and interconnect features that enable our latest set of innovations, and their willingness to customize additional features for our display simplifies our manufacturing flow."

Through the partnership, say the companies, they are kicking off development of a series of cutting-edge custom solutions on GF's 22FDX platform to enable IntelliPix's flexible architecture that provides a software-defined and scalable feature set. The overall advancement in IntelliPix supports up to 100 times faster modulation while consuming four to 12 times less system power across the video pipeline, compared to CP's previous platforms, while unlocking the real potential for amplitude liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS), emerging microLED and future phase-based holographic systems.

By intelligently focusing only on changing pixels, IntelliPix is directed to pixels that are active, while conserving power in inactive pixel regions, resulting in high image quality and brightness, while significantly lowering the overall display subsystem power. By leveraging the high-performance, ultra-low power, and broad feature integration capability of GF's 22FDX platform, CP says it is able to deliver IntelliPix's smart pixel digital backplane integrated with its proprietary real-time video pipeline at high frame rates and low latency all in one single chip with no compromises in display area, cost or power consumption to meet the critical requirements for widespread consumer AR.

For emerging microLED pixel technology, IntelliPix-iDrive can be configured with a constant current pixel drive optimized to deliver pixel to pixel uniformity supported with a software-defined drive scheme and a MIPI interface. IntelliPix also provides an IntelliPix-vDrive configuration as a voltage/charge driven pixel optimized for driving LC based pixels for both amplitude and phase/holographic light modulation.

The OneChip physical design of IntelliPix eliminates traditional distinctions between display pixel drive (backplane) and display driver IC (DDIC) functions to reduce the overall physical volume and power consumption while enabling cutting-edge features. The partnership, say the companies, enables a customized Intellipix architecture based on a vDrive or iDrive modulated backplane/display configured to customer specifications.

The IntelliPix microdisplay technology platform is customizable for resolutions up to 2048 x 2048 and beyond. The first commercial products featuring IntelliPix are expected to be on the market in 2023.

Compound Photonics



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