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DisplayPort transmitter supports HDMI

Posted: 16 Oct 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Analogix? DisplayPort? HDMI? UDI? digital display interface?

One of the huge opportunities in digital media today lies in the move to a next-generation digital display interface for flat-panel monitors and TVs. Analogix Semiconductor Inc. hopes to surf that sea with the release of transmitters and receivers for the emerging DisplayPort standard.

Ratified in May by an ad hoc industry group including PC giants Hewlett-Packard and Dell, DisplayPort competes with the emerging Unified Display Interface (UDI) specification backed by Intel and Silicon Image, as well as the existing High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) geared for DTV systems. Analogix claims that DisplayPort is quietly winning the three-way interface war.

"DisplayPort has won the battle, and the UDI proponents have all been participating in DisplayPort for the past year," said CEO Bill Eichen, who expected to see announcements of new DisplayPort backers by September. "HDMI in the PC is not going to happen as people once thought," he added.

But Eichen said Analogix itself has not written off UDI or HDMI. It participates in the definition of UDI at the contributor level and will build products for UDI "as the market dictates," Eichen said.

The company is also "firmly committed" to HDMI, with six new products in design. Three are set to sample within a year, he addeda transmitter, a switch and a receiver for the HDMI 1.3 spec.

HDMI shipped nearly 20 million STBs and TVs in 2005, a number that could skyrocket to 300 million a year by 2009, according to market watcher InStat. Bowing to that reality, Analogix made its DisplayPort transmitter compatible with HDMI. The ANX9801 includes a logical transmitter for Digital Visual Interface (DVI), which is the physical basis for HDMI. It also supports the high-bandwidth digital content-protection technology that, added to DVI, makes up HDMI.

The diagram for the transmitter shows two logical transmit blocks. But Eichen claims the chip handles both the embedded-clocking scheme of DisplayPort and the clock-forwarding scheme of HDMI with basically a single silicon block, thanks to some patented techniques.

ANX transmitter logically handles digital visual interface and DisplayPort. ANX9801 uses patented techniques to support both embedded clocking and clock forwarding.

The chip does require a passive connector or "dongle" to mate a DisplayPort connection to an HDMI output device. Eichen said that dongle contains a 10k-ohm resistor and would add about 75 cents to the BOM for a graphics card.

The transmitter delivers the full 10.8Gbps total bandwidth of DisplayPort, based on up to four PCI Express-like lanes running at a maximum 2.7GHz. It supports WQXGA resolution of 2,560-by-1,600pixels at 60Hz and a color depth of 30bits/pixel.

The part, packaged in an 80-pin TQFP, is now sampling and will hit production by the end of the year. It consumes 500mW average and 900mW maximum when all lanes are running at maximum speed.

"We'll come in at about $3 apiece for 10,000 units, but it will be less for those buying in higher quantities," said Eichen. The company plans on a selling price of $1 a chip "when it sells in 20 million to 30 million unit volumes," he said.

The first-generation parts will not support the DisplayPort content-protection scheme, which has not yet been ratified. But follow-on devices shipping in early 2007 will do so. Analogix is also developing DisplayPort receivers for monitors and TVs. These parts will sample at the end of the year and be in production in early 2007. The company is working on specific versions of its receivers for notebook computers as well.

DisplayPort opens the door to monitors that are directly driven by a computer's graphics controller, eliminating $3 in the electronics BOM for chips such as ADCs and video scalers. Users will not have to adjust images via buttons on the resulting PC monitors.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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