Cree and San’an Optoelectronics will form a joint venture to produce mid-power LEDs for general illumination applications, while Osram begins shipping advanced auto-targeted LEDs and Vishay has new amber, red, and yellow components.
Coincident with its release of quarterly financial results, Cree has announced that it will form a joint venture with San’an Optoelectronics of China focused on producing mid-power LEDs that specifically target general illumination applications. Osram Opto Semiconductors has announced commercial availability of the five-emitter version of the Oslon Black Flat S LED for adaptive-driving beam (ADB) automotive headlamps. Vishay has announced what it calls space-saving red, super-red, amber, and yellow LEDs for signage and lighting applications and the LEDs are based on a silicon substrate.
Cree and San’an
The Cree and San’an announcement marks at least the fourth strategic move by Cree to address the momentum of mid-power LEDs in the lighting sector. Cree developed very-small high-power LEDs as alternatives to mid-power devices going back at least to 2013 with the launch of the XLamp XQ family of components and there were similar subsequent announcements. Cree partnered with and invested in Taiwan-based Lextar in a mid-power-centric deal. And in 2015, Cree signed a cross-licensing agreement with Epistar that presumably brought Cree some mid-power intellectual property (IP).
Now, however, Cree will own 51% of a new venture to be called Cree Venture LED Company, Ltd that will be based in Hong Kong. Presumably, San’an will supply the mid-power manufacturing expertise while Cree supplies the IP that has yielded perhaps the highest-performing high-power LEDs on the market. Apparently, Cree will sell the LEDs from the venture in North and South America, Europe, and Japan, and both companies will serve China and the rest of the globe.
“The addition of the mid-power LED products in this new joint venture to Cree’s industry-leading high-power products gives us an unparalleled LED portfolio,” stated Dave Emerson, Cree LEDs senior vice president and general manager. “With our LED systems expertise, customers are able to work with our existing channels to find the best LEDs for their applications.”
The question really is such a deal coming too late for Cree to gain a real foothold outside of high-power applications, of which there remain many. Still, the mid-power momentum has clearly hurt Cree.
The company just announced third-quarter results for its fiscal 2017. Revenue of $342 million was down 7% compared to the same quarter in 2016, and 15% compared to the second quarter of 2017. But Cree chairman and CEO Chuck Swoboda said that LED products performed at or above target levels whereas the company’s lighting business was hampered by soft market conditions.
Osram first demonstrated a five-emitter version of the Oslon Black Flat S family back in 2015. The company had previously delivered Black Flat LEDs with multiple emitters, but the Black Flat S added the capability of driving each emitter on an individual basis — a key to ADB designs.
Late in 2016, Osram said it was shipping a three-emitter version of the Black Flat S, and pledged that four- and five-emitter versions would follow in January 2017. Evidently the schedule slipped a bit, but the extra emitters will now provide more flexibility in beam forming and further increase safety.
“Increasing visibility and reducing glare, adaptive front-lighting systems like adaptive-driving beam enhance safety and comfort for both drivers and traffic participants,“ said Thomas Christl, product manager at Osram Opto Semiconductors. “Drivers virtually drive with an always-on high-beam light distribution while other drivers on the road only experience low-beam glare. With camera integration, ADB detects other vehicles or obstacles and either dynamically shadows out these vehicles in order to prevent glare or illuminates these obstacles to ensure safety.”
Vishay LEDs for signage and lighting
The Vishay Intertechnology optoelectronics group’s new VLD.1535 colored LEDs are based on an AlInGaP-on-Si (aluminum indium gallium phosphide on silicon) technology with the noteworthy part of that statement being the silicon substrate. The Si substrate should equate to reduced manufacturing costs.
Meanwhile, the LEDs include a primary domed optic that delivers a 22° beam that is a good fit for applications such as illuminated signage, traffic signals and signs, and specialty indoor and outdoor lighting products. Maximum performance ranges from 9000 mcd for super-red products to 14,000 mcd for amber and yellow products.