AU Optronics Latest Panel Development Plans – June 2022

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We have some updates from AU Optronics about their panel development plans which is always interesting to see. This is AUO as a panel manufacturer, as opposed to any specific monitor/display manufacturer, but it gives an indication of where monitors are likely to go in the future by looking ahead at the panel production plans. AUO make a large portion of the IPS-type panels (their ‘AHVA’ technology) in the market which is always of interest along with a range of interesting TN Film options. Please keep in mind that the production dates are not set in stone and may change, and there is then also a lag of several months before a panel is produced, then used in a display and launched to market. We will update our panel parts database with all the new information we have as well as best we can.

If you missed it, our last update from AUO was July 2021 and worth a read back. Here are the highlights from this new update. We also have updates coming soon for BOE so stay tuned for that, and have recently published updates from LG.Display here.

360Hz refresh rate 1080p TN Film panel updated details and now in mass production

In our last update in July 2021 there’s wasn’t very much information listed for this new panel, but we knew AUO were developing new 24.5″ sized TN Film panel with a 360Hz native refresh rate. So far the only 360Hz panels released to market have been by AUO with their IPS-type technology, as featured in screens like the Asus ROG Swift PG259QN we tested back in Sept 2020. Some gamers still prefer TN Film panels for additional snappiness and for competitive gaming so it will be interesting to see what AUO can manage in this sector too.

We have some more details now with the panel part being the M250HTN01.J, and spec wise we know it has a 1920 x 1080 resolution, 3ms G2G response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio, 400 nit brightness and standard 72% NTSC (sRGB basically) colour gamut. The panel should have gone in to mass production now in June 2022. We may see some screens announced based on this 360Hz TN Film panel at some point soon.

480Hz? No, 500Hz? No, 540Hz!…More info on the future 1080p TN Film panel

If 360Hz isn’t enough for you, then we first saw a sneak peak of this even higher refresh rate panel from AUO in early May, where as part of a video promoting their new AmLED backlight technology (discussed more below) they also mentioned briefly a new 480Hz TN Film panel. We had very little information but soon after Asus announced their new ROG Swift display which was based on this panel and offered a 500Hz refresh rate.

Actually, looking at the latest AUO roadmap it seems there are aspirations to offer this panel at 540Hz, or at least that is mentioned within the specs!

Perhaps AUO are still locking down just how fast this panel will be, and it will be linked to how fast response times can reach as well to make the super-high refresh rate viable. We do know now that the panel part will be the M241HTN01.0 and will offer a 24.1″ screen size and 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution. The response time spec from AUO is listed as “<3ms G2G” and also “2ms on/off”, and this will need to reach reliably under 2ms across the transitions to make 500Hz viable, or <1.85ms if they want to push to 540Hz. Time will tell if this is possible from their new panel. It is TN Film though which holds some promise.

In other specs interestingly AUO list HDR 1000 support meaning a peak brightness for HDR of at least 1000 nits. It also has a 96-zone AmLED backlight. That’s an unexpected but pleasant surprise. More information about AmLED and their other panels using this backlight tech below. This is a decent number of zones (not amazing, but decent) and will offer a high peak brightness capability as well. We don’t know if perhaps there will be other iterations of this panel so we can’t be certain at this stage whether announced models like the Asus ROG Swift 500Hz will offer this but it seems likely. At the moment we have very few specs for the Asus monitor. There is also a wide colour gamut with 95% DCI-P3 listed.

Panel production is scheduled for Q1 2023 so that probably means we won’t see any monitors using this panel until middle of next year sadly. In the mean time there’s the 360Hz TN Film panel discussed above which is being produced sooner.

1440p Resolution IPS panel with 360Hz refresh rate, sooner than you might think!

One of the flagship offerings from AUO will be their new M270DAN10.0 panel. This is 27″ in size and combines a 2560 x 1440 resolution with a 360Hz refresh rate! It feels like we’ve only recently started to see 1440p 240Hz screens released, including for instance the Nixeus NX-EDG27240X that we’ve recently reviewed. It will be interesting to see these 360Hz options appear, and they could be sooner that you might think! Panel production is scheduled for July 2022 at the moment for this option.

Spec wise the screen will offer a 3ms G2G response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio, wide colour gamut with 95% DCI-P3 coverage and HDR 600 support. That should mean some basic edge lit local dimming is included, but the number of zones is not listed yet. More info when we get it. It looks like this will be co-developed with NVIDIA and we assume therefore combined with their Native NVIDIA G-sync module.

Interestingly there are also a couple of versions planned with a 576-zone AmLED backlight for improved local dimming, HDR experience and peak brightness – more on that in the AmLED section below. The M270DAN10.2 and M270DAN10.3 panels will feature 1440p at 360Hz again but are not expected to go in to production until at least Q4 2022 (TBC). So these AmLED backlit versions will certainly be further out than the normal edge-lit panel.

32″ 4K IPS panel with 240Hz Refresh Rate, but not for a long while

Continuing the theme of high refresh rate panels, AUO are also planning to produce later on a 32″ sized IPS panel with a 3840 x 2160 4K resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate! This could be extremely interesting, although you’re going to need a beast of a system to power something like that. In other specs AUO list a 3ms G2G response time, 400/600 brightness, 95% DCI-P3 colour gamut and a 3-side borderless design.

You’ve got some time to start saving, or updating your PC though; this panel (M320QAN03.0) isn’t due to go in to mass production until Q3 2023 at the moment, so a long way away.

AmLED Backlight options including with high refresh rates

AUO are developing a range of panels with their new “AmLED” backlight technology, an update to the FALD and Mini LED backlight units you might find today on some higher end displays. There is a focus on improving the number of dimming zones which should in turn help improve HDR experience, with talk about increasing to 2000+ and even 4000+ zones.

AUO explain in some previous press material that: “AUO’s AmLED display technology, thanks to the enhanced mini LED backlight design, has achieved revolutionary performance in gaming displays. With adaptive local dimming technique, brightness, contrast ratio, colors, refresh rate and power consumption can be precisely adjusted in real time based on the images, environment, as well as users’ needs, therefore providing lifelike gaming visuals and immersive experience to meet gamers’ and content creators’ stringent demand for image quality and smooth operations.

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They also talk about how (in their view) AmLED is better than OLED in monitor applications. This was provided in a recent market trends post from Eve that is also well worth a read through:

You can see they are promoting the high peak brightness (1400 – 2000 nits being mentioned), longer life expectancy at higher brightness levels and potential for higher frame rates (at the moment at least) in this above graphic. Keep in mind this is AUO’s marketing view of the world.

AmLED basically boils down the screen having a Mini LED backlight that has been finely tuned by AUO to allow it to work properly in gaming situations and with variable refresh rates. Optimising the backlight dimming and control to ensure, as they put it “utmost brightness and contrast”. It’s been apparently made for content creators and e-sports pros, which feels like two pretty separate target markets.

AU Optronics later added a video explaining AmLED in more detail which we’ve embedded below. Within this video AUO are also keen to promote the performance of the Mini LED backlight in various areas, although of course keep in mind this is their marketing video.

Another promotional video about AmLED was released more recently on 10 May 2022

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They talk about how under higher ambient lighting conditions the technology can deliver 3x higher “ambient contrast ratio” (ACR) than an OLED display which don’t perform as well in bright room conditions. AUO are also promoting the fact that AmLED displays don’t show the same brightness degradation and burn in risks of OLED in their promotional video. They have also focused on blue light reduction by shifting the blue light wavelength to the 460 nm range, something that Eyesafe promote and talk about on their website.

The panels in their roadmap with AmLED backlights are as follows:

  • 32″ 4K with 160Hz and 576 zones – We had a bit of information about the M320QAN02.8 in our last update, originally expected to go in to production in Q3 2021 but slipped a bit to May 2022. This should now be in production we believe. This is a 32″ sized IPS panel with 3840 x 2160 4K resolution, 160Hz refresh rate, 1000 nit peak brightness, 98% DCI-P3 / 99% Adobe RGB colour gamut (thanks to Quantum Dot coating) and a 3-side borderless design. It has 576 dimming zones.

  • 32″ 4K panel with 2304 zones (60Hz only) – a lower refresh rate option is planned but with a significantly higher number of dimming zones. The M320QAN02.A has 2304 dimming zones and will offer a 12ms response time, 99% Adobe RGB gamut (QD) and HDR 1400 support. It’s scheduled for October 2022 production at the moment. This was originally listed in our last July 2021 roadmap as featuring a 160Hz refresh rate and lower HDR 1000 level for an August 2021 development, but it looks like the spec has been updated while production has been delayed (now 60Hz but with HDR 1400).

  • 27″ 1440p panels with 360Hz and 576 zones – we mentioned these above when discussing the 1440p 360Hz panels. The M270DAN10.2 and M270DAN10.3 offer a 3ms response time along with HDR 1000 support and use 576 dimming zones. The 10.2 panel has a 99% Adobe RGB colour gamut listed while the 10.3 panel has a 95% DCI-P3 gamut listed. Both are pencilled in for Q4 2022 production but this is to be confirmed and only currently planned.

  • 27″ 4K panel with 160Hz and 576 zones – The M270QAN07.5 is currently in planning for a possible Q4 2022 production. It will offer a 5ms response time, 99% Adobe RGB gamut (Quantum Dot) and HDR 1000 support. This one has 576 dimming zones.

32″ IPS panel with 8K and 4608-zone AmLED backlight

This one deserved a section of its own, but falls in to the AmLED category discussed above. A new panel, the M320MAN01.0 is planned for production from Q2 2023 which will be 32″ in size and offer a very high 8K resolution (7680×4320). This will be combined with a new AmLED backlight with an impressive 4608 dimming zones. It’s a 60Hz only panel before any gamers get too excited, but will offer 99% Adobe RGB / 99% DCI-P3 colour gamut and HDR 1000 support. Expected monitors using this to be very expensive and aimed at the professional market as and when they are announced.

34″ Ultrawide VA panel with 200Hz refresh rate and 576-zone AmLED backlight

Another model in the AmLED line-up deserving of a separate mention is the M340QVR01.7. This is a 34″ ultrawide panel with a 1000R curvature and 3440 x 1440 resolution. It has a 165Hz native refresh rate and 200Hz overclock support. This model has a 576-zone AmLED backlight, HDR 1000 support and a 90% DCI-P3 colour gamut. Production is scheduled for July 2022.

31.5″ Curved VA Panels with 4K and 144Hz update

AUO have a few 31.5″ sized panels based on VA technology that offer a 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution and a high refresh rate. These include:

  • M315QVR02.0 that has 1500R curvature 144Hz and is now in mass production
  • M315QRV02.6 that has 1000R curvature and 144Hz and should be in mass production starting June 2022. A 165Hz update of this panel is also being planned but with no firm dates yet
  • M315QRV02.3 that has 1500R curvature and 165Hz and is currently in planning.

High Refresh Rate 240Hz Curved VA Panels in Various Sizes – updated timelines

Samsung Odyssey G7 based on a fast VA panel from Samsung. Can AUO offer some decent alternative panel options?

There are also a quite a few other high refresh rate Curved VA panels of note. The focus from AUO here seems to be with a range of curvature options, including a steep 1000R to match recent Samsung VA panel developments. New planned 240Hz VA panels look particularly interesting, if response times are sufficient to keep up. Samsung have done a great job enhancing their response times on recently tested 240Hz VA panels from their range, finally clearing up the dreaded black smearing and making panels that can actually keep up with the frame rate (e.g. Samsung Odyssey G7 screens). Let’s hope AUO can do the same with their new 240Hz options.

The first batch are 31.5″ in size with a 2560 x 1440 resolution and steep 1000R curvature:

  1. M315DVR02.7 – 31.5″ in size with a 1000R curvature, 2560 x 1440 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate this time. Delayed from May 2021 and now expected to go in to production as late as Dec 2022 apparently.

There are also some 31.5″ curved VA panels but with a lower 1920 x 1080 resolution:

  1. M315HVR01.7 – 31.5″ in size also with a steeper 1000R curvature, 1920 x 1080 resolution and 240Hz refresh rate. Originally planned for Dec 2020, then slipped to Sept 2021 and now listed as Sept 2022

There are also some smaller 27″ panels planned, all with a 2560 x 1440 resolution:

  1. M270DVR01.2 – 1500R with 240Hz which was listed last time as production from April 2021 but is now listed as Q2 2022 so it looks like this was delayed or halted
  2. M270DVR01.7 – 1000R with 240Hz which is already in mass production as of April 2021

Then some other 27″ panels planned but with a lower 1920 x 1080 resolution:

  1. M270HVR01.7 – 1500R with 240Hz, originally planned Q1 2021 and according to the latest update it is still in planning phase (as opposed to developing)
  2. M270HVR01.9 – 1000R with 240Hz, originally planned Q1 2021 and according to the latest update it is still in planning phase (as opposed to developing)

New 49″ Ultrawide curved VA panels with high refresh rate now being planned

A couple of new very large format panels have appeared on the latest update. The M490AVR01.0 and M490AVR2.0 panels are 49″ in size and offer a 5120 x 1440 resolution. The 1.0 panel has a 1800R curvature and a 120Hz refresh rate and is expected to go in to production in September 2022. The 2.0 version will be curved but the actual curvature is still TBC, but this panel will offer a higher 240Hz refresh rate. This is still in planning phase at the moment but with a tentative date of Q2 2023 listed.

31.5″ Flat VA Panel with 4K and 144Hz update

Another newly announced panel from last time that looked interesting was the M315QVN02.0. This is flat format 31.5″ sized panel, and offers a 3840 x 2160 “4K” resolution combined with a 144Hz refresh rate. This is a VA technology panel though, unlike the wide range of IPS technology panels already announced from various manufacturers in this kind of size range (31.5 – 32″). So this is one of the first ~32″ sized panels with 4K @144Hz but with VA technology being used. Other specs listed include HDR 600 support and a 90% DCI-P3 colour gamut. Production appears to have slipped from July 2021 to April 2022 on the timelines listed, but should now already be under way.

34″ Ultrawide Curved VA Panels with high refresh rates – updated timelines

The 34″ size is not one that AUO has previously invested in, having concentrated their efforts in the 35″ space, and leaving 34″ to Samsung (VA) and LG.Display (IPS) until now. AUO now have several new panels in production which are 34″ in size, offering a 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio and a 3440 x 1440 resolution. There are 3 panel variants listed:

  • M340QVR01.0 – 165Hz refresh rate and 1500R curvature. Already in mass production
  • M340QVR01.6 – 165Hz refresh rate and 1000R curvature. Already in mass production
  • M340QVR01.7 – 165Hz refresh rate (with 200Hz overclock support) and 1000R curvature, discussed above already as this is the panel with a 576-zone AmLED backlight, HDR 1000 and 90% DCI-P3 colour gamut. This one is planned for July 2022 production

Higher contrast ratio IPS-type panels

Also discussed in the latest AUO roadmap are some new “commercial” products which seem to be IPS-type panels (AHVA technology) with an increased and improved contrast ratio of 2000:1. This could be a rival to LG.Display’s “IPS Black” perhaps, although not much information is provided at this stage on the technology behind the improved contrast ratio. There are two 27″ sized panels listed:

  • The M270DAN09.2 has a 2560 x 1440 resolution, 350 nit brightness, 98% DCI-P3 colour gamut and a 4-side borderless design (60Hz only). It is scheduled to go in to mass production in October 2022
  • The M270QAN08.0 has a higher 3840 x 2160 4K resolution, 400 nit brightness, 99% Adobe RGB colour gamut and a 4-side borderless design (60Hz only). It is scheduled to go in to mass production in Q1 2023

It remains to be seen whether these higher contrast ratio IPS-type panels will be used elsewhere in the gaming line-up with high refresh rates.

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