Hitachi, Fujitsu team up on plasma displays

Hitachi, Fujitsu team up on plasma displays

Japanese computer makers Fujitsu and Hitachi will jointly produce Plasma Display Panels (PDPs) in order to trim costs and speed development of the large-scale flat panel displays.

The two companies announced a joint venture, Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display, at a press conference held this week. The new company will produce PDPs at a factory to be purchased from Fujitsu. The new company will be equally held by its parent companies and will be capitalised at 20 billion yen ($A265 million).

The presidents of both companies were at the conference to unveil the new venture, which will begin operations in July.

PDPs work by passing electric current through a layer of gas sandwiched between two plates of glass. The current, which runs through a wire grid, causes the gas to glow at certain points thus creating the pixels that create an image. Not only is the display much thinner than conventional TVs and monitors, but it is also brighter and can be easily seen in a fully lit room.

The joint venture will use Fujitsu employees and an existing factory in the southern island of Kyushu to produce the displays. The venture will be headquartered in Kawasaki and will be evenly staffed by employees from both companies. The president of the new venture has yet to be decided.

"The primary use of commercial displays will be in airports or anywhere where large-scale information displays are required," said Fujitsu representative Bob Pomeroy.

The move will help the companies position themselves in a competitive market that is expected to reach 3 million units by 2003. Rival NEC is also expected to reveal plans to increase its production of PDPs sometime this week.

Fujitsu was the first to mass produce colour plasma displays in 1989 and then in 1998 it became the first company to build 42-inch displays. Hitachi has been developing PDP technology since 1970.

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