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Intel hopes to sort digital display interface split

Posted: 05 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? DisplayPort? Genesis Microchip? Analogix? ultrawideband?

Intel Corp. announced that it is committing to sorting out the competition between two digital display interfaces by the end of the year. Separately, the company is in talks to move its copy protection technology to a wireless transport such as ultrawideband.

The company is still engaged with partner Silicon Image on the unified display interface (UDI), a version of the high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) geared for cost- and space-conscious PCs. It competes with DisplayPort, defined by a group of PC and chip makers including Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

Two companies have announced DisplayPort chips. Genesis Microchip detailed plans in late July and Analogix followed in August. The Analogix parts also will be compatible with HDMI but requires a passive adapter. Silicon has yet to emerge for UDI, which only recently hit a version 1.0 of the spec.

Simon Ellis, an Intel executive overseeing the effort, said the company hopes to find road to a single high-bandwidth, low-cost interface by the end of the year. "Interoperability with the installed base of [Digital Visual Interface] and HDMI [products] is desirable," Ellis said.

Earlier this year when Ellis said he hoped a single interface would emerge before the silicon would need to be integrated with chip sets in about two or three years.

DisplayPort has tried to gain an edge by supporting security for copy protection that is a cut above the high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) technology from Intel used in HDMI and UDI. DisplayPort copy protection (DPCP) developed by Philips uses a 128bit encryption key along with AES, rather than the 40bit key used in HDCP. It also adds support for checking the proximity of the transmitter and receiver to ensure users aren't sending content over the Internet.

The DVD Copy Control Association could approve DPCP during their Oct. 4 meeting. But the technology has yet to be submitted to the Advanced Access Content System that oversees security for Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Further down the line is a submission to the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator, whose DTCP is used on 1394 and many other buses.

Stephen Balogh, Intel's director of content protection, said moving to wireless and maintaining compatibility for wired interfaces is currently more important than upgrading security. Intel is having "lots of good discussions with lots of people, but nothing has gelled yet" for migrating HDCP to wireless, he said.

Balogh added that DPCP is at the state-of-the-art for copy protection, "but it's a Fort Knox in the least likely place for people to try to steal content. There are lots of easier places for people to go steal content."

Disney and Warner Brothers have signed on to use HDCP. Maintaining compatibility with that technology is more important than bolstering security, he said. HDCP is "still vibrant enough to meet the studio's requests. There isn't a strong push from them one way or another, so we don't have any plans to upgrade encryption or key exchange," said Balogh.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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