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Drivers—The Heart & Nervous System of the LED Display

As one of the key components of the led displays, driver IC is believed to be heart and the nervous system that controls the display. It receive instructions from the control system and work with all parts of the display to make it work well, especially the leds.
You tell the display what to do through the control system, and you make the display what it is able to do through using the right driver IC. As examples, if you want your display to have these features:
1. Flicker-free;
2. High picture quality (fine and smoothly changing in depth of colors);
3. Find the best balance between brightness and cost;
4. Power efficient;
5. Failure detection on pixels;
6. More…

You may choose the relevant driver to achieve any or more than one features listed above. In led display products, the following types of drivers are most regularly used for different purpose:

PWM driver: To achieve high refresh rate and high grey scale levels. Among the popular drivers in this industries, Macro Block has the biggest share in this area. Its 5153 is believed to be the most powerful driver for scanning products: it doesn’t only provide super high refresh rate (8000Hz is achievable) and high grey scale levels (16384 color processing for each color), but also provide capability of elimination of removal of trailing. It is applicable for scanning mode up to 1/32 scanning.. Another brand name such as SUM203X (2030,2031,2032) series can also do the similar job but is believed to be less powerful and mature.. In fact, almost all drivers that you have heard, such as My-semi, Citi, and so on do have their versions of PWM drivers but together they have less than 20% share of the market, while it is believed that MBI has close to 80%. Besides 5153, which is good for 1/32 scanning, they have 5152, and this is to be replaced by another one called 5252. This one is good for 1/16 scanning, and less expensive. Coming down to the line would be the last one, which is believed to be the basic PWM driver: MBI5151, which is for 1/8 scanning and lower, such as 1/4 scanning, and so on.

It seems for static-mode display, MBI5041 is the driver that most of the manufacturers use. Little have been heard about using other brand names for such products for pitches such as 16mm, 20mm and bigger;

Basic type of drivers.
I think it’s easier for us to use Macro Block’s drivers as examples in describing their features. Basic type of drivers are good only for static displays with big pitches, such as 16mm, 20mm and so on. Technically, MBI5020, which is believed to have sold the most in numbers among all drivers in this industry, is applicable in scanning displays, of almost all types, including 1/32 scanning. Yet, the quality of pictures is believed to be at its low level. Firstly, the refresh rate is about 300Hz in general, even though they can raise it up to 1920Hz by software but the grey scale level remain around 8 bit, i.e. 256 color processing for each color, which human eyes can tell the batches of colors without smooth transitions in different areas. MBI5024 is a driver of the same type. Many European companies believed 5024 is better than 5020 but in fact they are pretty much the same yet the cost of 5024 is almost double of 5020.

Media facade displays: So far the suppliers of drivers that are good for media facades, including some curtain displays with long stripes, are limited to Citi and My-semi. The leader of the market, Macro Block, doesn’t care about this market segment at all. They feel comfortable with staying in regular led displays.

Other less popular segments of products include fault detection by pixels, low power consumption versions etc.
All these features can be realized by the relevant driver by Macro Block. The other brand names may not have a full line of products that are able to meet such demands.

We use Macro Block’s drivers in most cases, as we believe they are stable, powerful and they have an excellent product line that are able to fulfill most of the tasks that you want a display to do, with great performance.

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