Epson announce new controller chip for Eink screens

From the press release:

Seiko Epson Corporation ("Epson")(TOKYO:6724) today announced that it has developed a new display controller platform for electronic reading devices and other electronic paper products that provides laser-sharp image quality and rapid refreshes. The company will begin shipping the platform to e-paper-based product manufacturers in April 2011. The display controller platform is built around core semiconductor chips and firmware used to control the driving of e-paper displays. These components are optimized to run together as a fine-tuned system.

The display control platform will enable e-paper product manufacturers to speed up their time to market by allowing them to efficiently develop products with fast display refresh times and the ability to display images as sharp and clear as any produced by a laser printer. Notably, the platform will facilitate the development of products for business and education applications, which typically require higher image quality and faster displays.

Epson is the world's no.1* supplier of controller ICs for e-paper displays, partnering with E Ink Holdings Inc. of Hsinchu, Taiwan, the world's number 1 supplier of e-paper. With more than a decade's worth of research and development in e-paper, Epson has accumulated a storehouse of technology and know-how, not to mention a large number of industry-leading patents.

Achieving a high-performance e-paper display normally requires fine-tuning of the display controller IC, peripheral devices, and firmware so that they operate optimally as a system. Currently, however, most e-paper product manufacturers combine supplier devices and components into a package with limited optimization. In addition, although current mainstream e-paper displays are 160 dpi, there are growing market needs for e-paper displays with higher resolution and high speed refreshes.

Epson is looking to change this situation and improve e-paper device performance by developing an optimized display controller platform for high-resolution e-paper displays. Toward this end, the company is leveraging its highly popular display controllers, along with its technological expertise, to tightly integrate the core devices, including the application processor, system power management IC and firmware. Further, it is combining them with the image processing technology that Epson originally developed for its photo-quality printers.

The display controller platform employs a newly developed e-paper display driving scheme that is unlike those used in current e-book readers. The new driving scheme capitalizes on high-speed image processing technology originally developed for Epson's photo-quality printers to enable e-paper displays with resolutions of 300 dpi and higher to be refreshed at high speed, which is ideal for higher education, professional office and general business environments.

E-paper devices outfitted with the display controller platform and a high-resolution e-paper display will render intricate content, such as "kanji" characters, mathematical formulas and engineering drawings, as well as illustrations, photographs and other images that require smooth gradations, much more clearly than current e-paper displays. They will also be able to flip through the pages of an e-book much faster than existing ereaders. When combined with sensors, these devices will provide powerful handwriting recognition, a critical function for business applications. The sharp improvement in readability and usability are expected to fuel the popularity of e-paper products in Japan, China, and other regions where Chinese characters are used, as well as in business and education applications where huge amounts of data have to be processed.

In addition to its traditionally strong business in controller ICs for e-paper displays, Epson has identified the display controller platform as one of the electronic device businesses where the company will seek to fulfill its SE15 Long-Range Corporate Vision of creating platforms through the relentless pursuit of innovation in compact, energy-saving, high-precision technologies. As a leader in e-paper devices, Epson is committed to making major ongoing contributions to the popularity and future market growth of e-paper products, by improving their performance and developing new business applications.

* According to Epson estimate based on a 2009 research company report on e-paper shipments, and on Epson shipments of display controller ICs in 2009.

About Nate Hoffelder (11371 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on Epson announce new controller chip for Eink screens

  1. What about Texas Instruments? They announced something similar to this about a year ago. SiS (Silcon Integrated Systems), company most famous for their integrated chipsets for desktop motherboards also announced their SiS 9700 back in May 2010 witch boost its PDF accelerator capabilities. Freescale ARM SoC(system on Chip) is also around in Kindle devices for some time and work pretty well. Marvell’s Armada chip is also promising PDF acceleration, and situation can be interesting with this many manufacturers.

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