The Reliable Future for Ultra-Fine Pitch LED

January 16, 2017 Gary Feather

Fine Pitch and Ultra-Fine Pitch high resolution LED displays are continuing to explode in applications and orders.  Last month in fact, a single display opportunity for a 1.25mm pixel pitch LED display in the US pushed over $5M.  Opportunities for displays providing native HD and 4k resolution are emerging at an astonishing rate and in all verticals including entertainment, command control and US Government systems.  There is a line in the sand, Ultra-Fine Pitch LED displays are replacing LCD walls and projection DLP systems.

LCD and projection technology currently holds a majority of the digital signage market at over 80%. Yet LED display image quality has begun to emerge as a rival to these other technologies in many applications and will soon surpass each with the inherent mature display emissive solution.  While the display performance design and implementation of Fine Pitch and Ultra-Fine Pitch, is now competitive, there is significant work ahead for other manufacturers to realize the vast market potential of these displays.


The first key factor is reliability.  The market potential will be maximized only through continuous improvements in the system design for reliability and life.  Next generation Ultra-Fine Pitch LED must target and plan to attain the reliability demonstrated by DLP projection and LCD.  Expecting more from the LED display designer in order to align performance to the application requirements is absolutely imperative.  And all aspects of the display should be addressed to attain maximum benefit.


Often, the industry will reference the PPM failures expected in the first year of operation for LED packages and it is not unusual to hear PPM rates quoted from 30 PPM to 300 PPM. A 300 PPM failure rate even sounds impressive.  However, if indeed the PPM failure was 300 for a deployed HD display, the user could expect about 600 failures of LEDs in the first year.

Now 600 out of 2M sounds low, but keep in mind that the average viewing is less than 1 picture height away from the display in a conference room or tight viewing area. As a result, the user will see the failures and likely not be satisfied with that 300 PPM result

Obviously a higher standard is needed.  Even 30 PPM is statistically ~60 failures per year and potentially a repair cycle each month.

Fine Pitch Solutions

The goal is the right reliability performance for the right application and Ultra-Fine Pitch requires high reliability standards throughout the process. In addition to fixing early life failure rates, an additional factor is temperature.  A hot display will fail earlier if all other factors are the same. Designers must keep package (and therefore junction) temperatures well below 70 degrees C in UHP; recent providers are exceeding those temperature levels.

Ultra-Fine Pitch LED displays have a great current and rapidly growing future market, and the industry will exceed even those expectations if reliability is addressed appropriately in the design and LED device specification phase.  To work with a company already in-tune with raising industry standards, please reach out to us with even your most technical questions here.

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About the Author

Gary Feather

Gary Feather is a sought after senior operations executive and an expert in the worlds of display technology, imaging, lighting and energy systems. He holds nine United States Patents with co-inventors in TV, display content and LED systems. Gary began his career at Texas Instruments where he progressed through the ranks for seventeen years before moving to Sharp Electronics where he served as the Senior Vice President of LED Lighting. Today, Gary currently spearheads product development and operations as CTO. An avid traveler, Gary has earned 3.9 million lifetime airline miles! And today, because the majority of his travel is for work, you can find him enjoying home; involved with Bible Study Fellowship, Norcross Cooperative Ministries and Medical Teams International.

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