10/15/2004 - Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced its comprehensive entry into the flat-panel display (FPD) test market with a new product family, the Agilent 88000 Series FPD test systems, and its recent acquisition of IBM's thin-film transistor (TFT) array test and charge test assets. The move immediately positions Agilent as a full-spectrum provider of high-quality, low-cost production test for all key technologies in the rapidly growing FPD markets.
Flat-panel display technology is becoming increasingly common in a wide variety of consumer applications that include cellular phones, digital cameras, liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions, computer displays and personal digital assistants (PDAs). With new applications constantly emerging, manufacturers face considerable test challenges: Customer requirements for higher aperture ratios for greater display brightness, smaller pixel size for better resolution, and lower prices require them to improve test quality while lowering test costs.
The introduction of the Agilent 88000 ATS-600 Array Test System provides a solution for the large and growing amorphous silicon (a-Si) LCD market typically used for large panels, such as televisions and computer monitors. The other new product, the Agilent 88000 HS-100 High Speed and Sensitivity Array Test System, addresses the high-growth market in feature- and performance-rich technologies required for advanced consumer electronics, such as high-end cell phones, PDAs and digital cameras. The Agilent systems test TFT arrays used in LCDs and active matrix (AM) organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays.
"The Agilent 88000 Series fills a much-needed gap in the flat-panel display market," said Minoru Ebihara, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Hachioji Semiconductor Test Division, part of Agilent's Automated Test Group in Japan. "It significantly reduces manufacturing costs while improving yields for high-volume manufacturers of small panels to the largest TV panels. Our entry into the flat-panel display market leverages the best applications, technology and relationships that will quickly launch Agilent into a leadership position in this industry."
Agilent's acquisition of IBM's array and charge test assets combines IBM's technology and product knowledge, its large installed base, and its market recognition with Agilent's test and measurement expertise and worldwide service and support infrastructure. The acquisition is being integrated into Agilent's Hachioji Semiconductor Test Division. Agilent has assumed full responsibility for IBM's wide installed base of FPD manufacturers in Japan, Taiwan and Korea, as well as ongoing commitments in application support, product support and future requirements.
"By building upon the foundation of both Agilent's and IBM's technology and expertise, Agilent expects to set a new industry standard for FPD array testing in terms of absolute measurement sensitivity and speed," said Ebihara. "Moving forward, we expect to deliver to customers improved manufacturing processes at lower cost-of-test, ultimately enabling more affordable FPD products."
FPD manufacturers have long understood the value of array testing, such as post-process cost savings, expedited yield ramp-up and stabilization of the production process. Until now, however, no test system has provided sufficient performance to do the job. Other testers are only fast enough to do sample testing, so judging the total quality of a panel is possible only after completing the most expensive part of FPD production. Defects discovered late in the process create expensive scrap and keep FPD prices high.
The Agilent 88000 HS-100 is expected to reduce panel cost by fast go/no-go testing at the array process step. Further cost savings are anticipated as a result of innovative manufacturing process improvements through such test capabilities as sorting, minute defect detection, reliability analysis and electrical test after liquid crystal filling/electro luminescence deposition in the cell process.
The Agilent 88000 HS-100 is specifically designed for polysilicon LCD and AM-OLED testing. The market for those panels is expected to grow rapidly for high-performance mobile appliances and similar converged consumer electronics. The Agilent 88000 HS-100 was developed by Agilent by leveraging its tradition of high-speed, ultra-precise measurement technology proven in semiconductor test solutions. Customer benchmark reports indicate that the Agilent 88000 HS-100 delivers measurement speeds three to 10 times faster than alternatives.
For amorphous silicon LCD manufacturing, the Agilent 88000 ATS-600 -- the latest in a series of widely accepted IBM-developed array testers -- provides comprehensive test capability especially for large TFT substrates (known as Generation 6 or 7) used for the booming flat-panel television market.
Panel quality is improved by detailed defect analysis of individual pixels and automatic defect classification. Test cost is reduced by increased tester speed and higher throughput. According to recent benchmarks, the Agilent 88000 ATS-600 is 1.5 times faster than other array testers.
Agilent provides a highly integrated test environment, including close collaboration with solution partners (including prober and probe unit suppliers) from quotation to after-sale, total performance tune-up, and easy operation in high-volume manufacturing. Agilent also provides test-optimization consulting for quick startup with both existing and emerging FPD technologies.
Pricing and Availability
A typical Agilent 88000 HS-100 High Speed and Sensitivity Array Test System starts at $900,000, and the Agilent 88000 ATS-600 Array Test System starts at $1,100,000. More information about both systems is available at www.agilent.com/see/products.
About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at www.agilent.com.
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