Companies form UDI special interests group to produce a next-generation display connection.

Technology standards are often designed with the intention to make things easier for the end user, but when a standard is focused on saving corporations money, end users often find themselves spending more in the long run.

Currently, many computing and multimedia devices come equipped with a host of connection to drive various types of displays. All standard PCs for example, come equipped with a standard 15-pin D-Sub VGA connector while PCs in recent years also come with DVI. As digital televisions such as plasmas and LCDs become increasingly popular and the acceptance of a “media box” becoming more mainstream, high-definition content protection is also a growing concern for media companies.

In a scramble to prevent users from copying high definition video all new digital televisions and playback devices are beginning to ship exclusively with a connection called HDMI, which stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI does not accept a DVI connector (which is much more widespread) but carries an encrypted video stream as well as digital audio channels. This has left a great deal of people frustrated because many have invested heavily into DVI-only equipment. While DVI to HDMI converters exists, most appliances do not recognize the adaptor unless it is HDCP on both ends; and very few PC appliances are DVI-HDCP compatible.

Now, a special interest group (SIG) has been formed to push forward yet a new display standard currently called UDI, or unified display interface. Despite large groups of consumers already voicing their concerns about HDMI, their cries for compatibility have gone mostly unheard. The UDI SIG currently claims that the new interface will remain compatible with existing interfaces although some evidence points in a different direction. In a press release, the group quotes:

"UDI is targeted to become the new display interface for desktop PCs, workstations, notebook PCs and PC monitors, replacing the aging VGA analog standard and providing guidelines to ensure compatibility with today’s DVI standard. Further, as planned, the UDI specification will be fully compatible with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), the standard digital interface for High Definition TVs (HDTVs) and advanced CE displays."

Technically, the UDI interface is designed to prepare for next-generation HD content that is many times higher in resolution than even today's top-end 1080p. Flexibility and security are the primary goals for UDI with compatibility being last on the list. However, with a large corporate backing, the group hopes that UDI will be embraced quicker than previous technologies.

Composing of Apple, Intel, LG, National Semiconductor, Samsung, Silicon Image, NVIDIA, THine Electronics, FCI, Foxconn and JAE Electronics, the UDI SIG is hoping to “unify” display technologies. The group is expecting the new interface to last for at least a decade said Intel and should carry displays well beyond digital 2560x1600 signals. Microsoft also announced its support for UDI. What has a lot of companies interested is the fact that the group plans to license the technology for minimum royalties or even no royalties at all. The movie industry is also pleased with the group’s direction.

UDI will be designed to carry a extra high-bandwidth digital signal that is encoded using HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). The interest group says that UDI will remain connectively compatible with current DVI and HDMI connectors all while being a different connector itself. How exactly they will be accomplishing this will remain to be seen. In addition, the group is looking at incorporating UDI connectors into mobile computing devices such as laptops and handhelds. The full specification for UDI is expected to be finalized sometime in the middle of 2006.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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