LAKE WALES, Fla. — Texas Instruments’ micro-opto-electromechanical-system-based DLP, with millions of micromirrors per digital micromirror device (DMD) MOEMS chip, revolutionized digital cinema, earning the technology’s inventor an Oscar in 2015. After the 87th Academy Awards ceremony, TI began downsizing its technology for consumers. Today, TI is releasing the 0.2-inch, quarter-million-mirror DLP2000 at a price of less than $20, with an evaluation module (EVM) priced at less than $100, making it the most cost-effective pico-projector enabler to date, according to analysts. Competing units for the consumer market use as few as two raster-scanning mirrors.
“The new TI DLP LightCrafter Display 2000 is a breakthrough, since it brings the price down to a point that any developer can consider it for their applications,” said senior analyst Rosemary Abowd at PMA Research Ltd. (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). “It’s a home run for TI in the sense that it breaks down the barriers to getting it into the hands of developers.”
TI fellow Larry Hornbeck received an Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards for inventing DLP, which revolutionized digital cinema.
TI is the leading supplier of pico-projector chips, having shipped more than 1 million units in the first half of this year, Abowd said. Most of those units shipped to China, but the devices “are also increasingly popular in the U.S., such as in the ultra-thin pico projector Moto Mod, which snaps on to the Moto Z2 Force Edition smartphone,” she said.
The DLP solution released today offers “a $19.99 DMD chip plus matching controller, power management, and driver chips,” Juan Alvarez, TI’s DLP pico products manager, told EE Times. The evaluation module, priced at $99, is the most affordable projection display EVM released to date, Alvarez said. The DMD chip, with support chips and LED engine, targets applications in the 20- to 30-lumen range. The chip undercuts the price of the previous TI generation’s least expensive model by three times and should enable consumer applications to break the $100 price barrier by Christmas 2017.
Block diagram of the DLP Pico chip set’s reference design evaluation module.
The DLP LightCrafter Display 2000 EVM provides a display with a 16 x 9 aspect ratio and 24-bit red-green-blue (RGB) resolution. It is compatible with any application processor but is plug-compatible with TI’s own BeagleBone Black development board, which uses its Sitara AM335x processors and provides software drivers and BeagleBone Black code-programming examples.
Complete modules, with a footprint measuring less than 76 x 54 millimeters, will enable applications including stand-alone pico projectors, mobile smart TVs, digital signage, smart-home projection displays, control panels, Internet of Things (IoT) displays, digital cameras, tablets, and smartphones, according to TI.
Complete design evaluation module with the LightCrafter Display 2000 DLP, its support chips, and an LED light engine.
The DLP LightCrafter Display 2000 arrives with the added edge of TI’s extensive developer ecosystem, which is already using other LightCrafter Display DLPs — mated to a variety of light engines based on LEDs and lasers — to provide original equipment manufacturers with off-the-shelf projector modules for a range of applications. TI claims DLP optical engines are in volume production for a new generation of forward-projecting applications as well as for novel, back-projecting devices used to display images on non-flat surfaces as varied as contoured control panels and interactive world globes.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times