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Qualcomm to build MEMS display plant

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Qualcomm Inc. is a fabless chip maker.

Or is it? Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm, and Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co. Ltd. plan to build a new, dedicated display fabrication plant in the Lungtan Science Park in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Taiwan's Cheng Uei is sometimes called Foxlink.

The plant will manufacture Qualcomm's next-generation displays, of which it calls ''mirasol.'' The fabrication plant is slated to be operational in 2009.

In support of the effort, Foxlink has created a new business unit to support the production of Qualcomm MEMS Technologies' mirasol displays.

In 2004, Qualcomm entered the display market by acquiring Iridigm Display Corp. Qualcomm paid approximately $170 million in cash for the approximate 86 percent of Iridigm that it did not already own.

Iridigm's patented iMoD technology, based on a micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) structure combined with thin film optics, is said to be a breakthrough in display technology.

Based on a reflective technology called interferometric modulation (IMOD), mirasol displays make use of ambient light and require no backlighting, thereby consuming less power, according to Qualcomm (San Diego).

The reflective mirasol display also automatically scales to the surrounding lighting conditions, allowing users to see their content in almost every environment, even bright sunlight, according to the company.

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