TI ships 5 millionth DLP system

Projection TVs lift prospects of Texas Instruments' digital light processing chip technology.

Texas Instruments has shipped its 5 millionth digital light processing system, technology at the heart of projectors, the chipmaker announced Wednesday.

Giving the Dallas-based company a lift was the projection TV market, which with 5.7 million units was third as a display category--behind cathode ray tube and liquid crystal displays--in sets shipped worldwide in 2004, according to research firm iSuppli. In the projection set market, DLP-based projection sets came in second with 750,000 shipped, just behind CRT projection sets, which at 4.2 million units made up a majority of the market.

Projection televisions helped the company to ramp up shipments in the past eight months when it shipped 2 million units, TI said in a statement. It took the company since 1996 to ship 3 million units.

The company expects projection sets to play a big role in its future.

"We have more than 20 manufacturers in the TV space, including six of the top nine using DLP," said Molly Mulloy spokeswoman for TI. TV makers using TI's DLP chip include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Thomson, Toshiba and Mitsubishi. "This has been a significant addition to our business."

DLP chips are also used in office and portable projectors, and TI is essentially the only DLP game in town, according to Kim Allen, an analyst with iSuppli.

DLP involves reflecting light off an array of microscopic mirrors. DLP's challenge, Allen said, is high resolutions.

"There has been a question of whether DLP can move up in resolution with other technologies, but given the acceleration in shipments it seems to be doing well," Allen said.

DLP is part of a long list of technologies used in televisions that can be confusing for consumers. However, that doesn't seem to be slowing consumer demand. Advanced televisions are among the more popular gift requests for the holiday season.

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