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DisplayPort ready to ramp, may target DTVs

Posted: 14 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DisplayPort? DTV sets? HDMI?

DisplayPort backers at the recent Consumer Electronics Show projected a complete picture of an interconnect standard ready to ramp. The group showed working chips and systems from multiple companies and a road map into the next year, indicating the specification has crossed the chasm from idea to product.

Designed by PC makers as a replacement for the aging DVI, VGA and LVDS interconnects in desktops, notebooks and LCD monitors, DisplayPort ultimately may see use as link in DTV as well.

"Last year we had papers and promises and today we have working products," said Bob Myers, display technologist from Hewlett-Packard, speaking at a press conference about DisplayPort at CES.

AMD, Intel, Integrated Device Technology, Genesis Microchip and Parade Technologies all showed working DisplayPort chips at a press conference. Dell showed a shipping 30-inch LCD monitor with an external DisplayPort interface.

Samsung showed a prototype display using DisplayPort as both an external and an internal link, replacing LVDS. The group also showed a prototype projector using DisplayPort.

Intel demonstrated its next-generation Cantiga PC chipset driving DisplayPort outputs. Cantiga serves both desktops and notebooks and should ship in about a month for systems based on the company's 45nm Penryn processors.

Cantiga supports HDMI, DVI and VGA as well as DisplayPort, but the DisplayPort link will be the primary interconnect routed to an external port on Intel motherboards. What's more, all Intel's mainstream PC chipsets going forward will support DisplayPort, said Nick Willow a display technologist at Intel.

In addition, OEMs are gearing up a new class of so-called direct drive LCD PC monitors that will use DisplayPort to eliminate the need for scalers and other circuitry in the monitors. The new designs will allow smaller, cheaper LCD display and could hit the market before June, Willow said.

HDMI rival
The support from Intel and AMD indicates DisplayPort could begin appearing in mainstream desktops, notebooks and monitors before the end of the year. If that happens, the link could rapidly rise to shipments of tens of millions of units a year, driving economies of scale that could rival the HDMI interface used in DTVs and other consumer video gear.

Companies including Analogix, Genesis, NXP and Parade are ramping up timing controllers and other supporting silicon for the new monitors. Some of the new timing controllers eliminate external crystals to enable ultrathin displays as well as power consumption as low as 300mW.

"This will become the display equivalent of Ethernet," said Bruce Montag, a system architect at Dell Computer who chairs the DisplayPort committee at the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA).

TV makers may find the DisplayPort architecture more elegant for high-resolution displays compared to LVDS, which could require as many as eight links for a high-end 60Hz 4Kx2K display, said Brian Berkeley, VP in the LCD panel business of Samsung Electronics.

Once volume PC sales are established, TV makers could find DisplayPort attractive as an external link, added Montag of Dell. Unlike HDMI, DisplayPort is royalty-free and does not require OEMs to narrowly specify its field of use. In addition, DisplayPort offers a higher bandwidth auxiliary channel than the 100Kbit/s HDMI-CEC control scheme now widely used for HDTV remote controls.

10.8Gbit/s throughput
DisplayPort consists of up to four channels running at up to 2.7Gbit/s for a total theoretical throughput up to 10.8Gbit/s. The auxiliary channel will be expanded to 480Mbit/s in a future addition of the spec, opening the door to its use as a USB-like connector, Montag said.

The VESA group is also working on a mini connector small enough to fit four connectors on a four-chip half-size graphics card. It would also enable use on mobile devices. The existing connector is about the size of a standard USB connector.

DisplayPort uses a micropacket architecture designed for a world of flat-panel monitors. By contrast DVI was designed in the early 1990's and uses a raster/scan approach geared for the CRT displays of that time.

Like HDMI, DisplayPort supports the HDCP content protection technology for carrying premium video content.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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