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LCD Drivers Explained

LCD Drivers Explained

Sep 24th 2021


An important component of most LCDs is the LCD driver. It features a CPU, memory (RAM and ROM), and interfaces (input/output ports) for video, audio, etc. Unlike a microprocessor or microcontroller, which is designed for more broad applications, an LCD driver is designed for a particular purpose – driving the LCD. The LCD's driver is the brain of the display. Its major function is to transform firmware into letters, numbers, and images for display on the LCD. There are a few key factors to consider when choosing the right one for your application.

LCD drivers are available in a broad price range, ranging from a few dollars for a hundred units to a few dollars per unit. If you wish to scale, you must weigh the total cost vs the driver’s individual performance power. For LCDs used in sensitive or difficult use-cases (such as exposure to harsh environments or high outputs), the costs may escalate to provide appropriate resources to the LCD itself.

The hacking of IoT devices is on the rise, posing a particular threat to LCD drivers used in vehicles. Some specialty chip manufacturers are responding by including layers of security like encryption and physical security. Users may now buy drivers that have been certified to the most recent security standards or utilize MCUs with safe hardware built-in.

You may need devices that can resist high temperatures depending on the environment in which your LCD will work. There will be a cost-benefit analysis of temperature tolerance. For high output LCDs that generate substantial heat, this will be an important consideration.

A significant issue that plagues the LCD industry is the discontinuation of LCD controllers. When this occurs, the LCD design will need to be updated with a replacement LCD driver. It is likely that at some point you may encounter a situation in which a manufacturer has discontinued an LCD driver and has created an incompatible replacement.

When an LCD controller has been discontinued and a drop in equivalent is not available, there are typically two options:

  • 1.The product firmware must be modified to adapt to the new LCD driver. Firmware is customer-written software that allows the LCD to connect with it. For two reasons, this isn't always the greatest solution. Firstly, A programmer will have to rewrite the firmware and test it, which will take time and money. Secondly, when the old product comes in for repairs, the new microcontrollers for LCD screens will not operate. The good about this solution is that the LCD can continue to be purchased with the new LCD driver in the future.
  • 2.Offer the previous controller driver for a last time buy. This generally provides ample time to make a big order for the obsolete controller. The client will benefit by avoiding the need to change their firmware to keep the end product alive. However, the drawback with this option is that they may need to acquire goods for numerous years. This ties up cash and takes up warehouse space. Not to mention, it can be difficult to predict the future production demand for the life of a product.

Although this problem is not completely avoidable, it can be prevented by ensuring that you are choosing hardware that is commonly used and is therefore most likely to be in surplus when new microcontrollers are needed. Luckily, Focus LCDs highlights not just our LCD drivers part numbers, but also include them in the part number's description. We also try to use preferred LCD drivers which have equivalents available when possible and stock specific LCD drivers to keep production available for as long as possible. 

References:

  1. https://circuitdigest.com/microcontroller-projects/lcd-interfacing-with-8051-microcontroller-89s52
  2. https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/projects/a-one-wire-lcd-for-your-microcontroller/
  3. https://unsplash.com/photos/FO7JIlwjOtU?utm_source...