Apple's 2014 MacBook refresh will see the company switch to IGZO displays, it's reported, reducing power consumption while simultaneously improving clarity. The switch, which isn't expected to take place until the first half of next year, will see Apple raid the production lines of Sharp and LG Display, ETNews reports, with the iPad also potentially in line for the screen technology.
IGZO - or indium gallium zinc oxide - is used by Sharp and others to replace the more traditional amorphous silicon substrate found in TFT LCD panels. Since IGZO demonstrates more electron mobility, it can be more efficient, and the individual pixels can be smaller.
That allows for higher-resolution displays, but also permits a reduction in backlighting for the same degree of brightness as a regular LCD. Sharp has used the technology for a number of smartphones and tablets in the Japanese market, but we're only just seeing IGZO make its way to the desktop in the shape of displays from Sharp itself and ASUS.
Those advantages have long been said to have caught Apple's attention, and in fact the company is believed to have quietly invested in Sharp so as to get first refusal on the panels once they reach mass-production level.
According to the Korean reports, Sharp may end up supplying both MacBook and iPad scale IGZO panels to Apple, trimming the power consumption of the notebooks and tablets in the process. It's also expected that LG Display will join the supply chain with IGZO, and said that the company is already upgrading its existing AMOLED and LCD lines to be compatible with IGZO manufacturing.
For Apple, the biggest benefit could be Retina display resolution but without the drain on battery life. The company has made a name for its hardware thanks to the pixel-dense displays, but balancing the power demands of such panels is an ongoing challenge.