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Is 2007 the year of the display format wars? A look at the licensing structures of these formats reveals more

Unfortunately, consumers will be faced a total of three display standards in 2007 -- and even more in 2008. Along with HDMI, computers will start to ship with DisplayPort and the Universal Display Interface (UDI) this year.  UDI is electrically compatible with DVI and HDMI, but does not carry the same licensing fees as either and has a stripped down feature set.  DisplayPort is not compatible with any existing signaling format.

One of the primary concerns for these new standards is cost and interoperability.  Expensive HDMI and HDCP certification is cited as one of the culprits delaying AMD 690G motherboards.

High fidelity signaling backers are split into two licensing camps: one supporting the DVI-derivatives (DVI-HDCP, HDMI, UDI) and the other supporting DisplayPort. AMD, Dell, Genesis Microchip, Hewlett-Packard, Molex, NVIDIA, Philips, Samsung and Tyco Electronics are supporters of DisplayPort; Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Sony, Silicon Image, Thomson and Toshiba compose the primary backers of HDMI. A significant portion of the DisplayPort supporters also have interests in HDMI.  Earlier last year, several manufacturers including Sapphire and PowerColor announced HDMI-enabled graphics cards based on ATI GPUs. MSI also announced HDMI cards based on NVIDIA GPUs.

When DailyTech asked why HDMI was taking a long time to appear in PC products, Leslie Chard, president of HDMI Licensing LLC, said "Right now most manufacturers are considering the cost of adding HDMI to their graphics products. Since HDMI is based mainly on DVI signals, the technology is already available in graphics processors. HDMI is everywhere -- consumer electronics, home entertainment and now companies are demanding the technology for smaller handhelds. You can't beat HDMI's cross platform compatibility."

Joe Lee, director of marketing for Silicon Image, added "Card manufacturers now only have to consider ways of grabbing the sound output through the PCI Express bus and adding the cost of the physical connector. If card manufacturers can finish writing the special [drivers] needed to grab the audio, everything would be set. Windows Vista should help drive HDMI forward."

According to initial reports, DisplayPort was heralded as a royalty-free technology. As it stands today, DisplayPort is royalty free but is composed with well over 200 patents. According to VESA, the committee that overlooks over the DisplayPort standard, the intellectual property (IP) holders are not held fixed and can and may charge a "reasonable" fee for the technologies used in DisplayPort.

Chard took a shot at DisplayPort, claiming "These IP holders are free to charge royalties under RAND [Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory] terms.  Until these IP holders make a public commitment, manufacturers have no idea what this rate will be.  Moreover, additional IP holders may come forward and charge additional royalties in the future; this is especially true if the DisplayPort standard ever evolves to incorporate advanced new technologies." 

HDMI's fees are already disclosed -- $0.04 per product and a small minimal fee for the HDCP keys, if used. HDMI Licensing LCC reduced the fees associated with using the technology late last year.

The largest hurdle DisplayPort faces, besides getting out the door, is interoperability with other devices.  DisplayPort is not compatible with HDMI, UDI or DVI.  The hurdle in jumping from one signaling protocol to the other is that the DVI-derivative protocols use HDCP, DisplayPort uses DPCP and HDCP.   VESA partners claim they will develop devices that allow HDMI to DisplayPort conversion, though doing so would mitigate DPCP.  Lee points out that this is essentially against the whole principle of a content protection protocol in the first place: if someone can freely negotiate between multiple or non-existent protocols that aren't under the same certification umbrella, then why have a certification process at all?

It has not been disclosed yet as to whether or not DisplayPort implementers may be required to pay royalties for the HDCP and Display Port Content Protection (DPCP) conversion either.

As of right now, the consumer electronics playing field is blanketed with HDMI-enabled products. The technology also recently entered its 1.3 revision, supporting features such as higher resolution and deep-color (wider color gamut) -- Sony's PlayStation 3 supports HDMI 1.3.  Philips, the inventor of DisplayPort's content protection scheme DPCP, recently announced a wireless version of HDMI.

AMD is expected to launch DisplayPort compatible GPUs later this year with NVIDIA opting for the standard as well. Early last year, Silicon Image stated that UDI will end up replacing both HDMI and DVI standards on the PC when it becomes available to reduce licensing fees, though it will still be compatible with the older standards.  

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By TheRequiem on 2/19/2007 7:49:40 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously you have made no point to actually read the website otherwise you would know the “clear” advantages Display Port has over HDMI. If for some reason that website doesn't provide enough information for you, then you can go to VESA's homepage which is linked on above noted webpage for MORE information. Also, you are talking about UDI, your out of the loop. The website I listed is a website about “Display port”, which is a better technology then UDI as Display Port meets more certain specifications that VESA implies for FUTURE PC and Graphics use. Which means that while true, there is no use for the new technology now and HDMI might do for now, but Display Port will be able to output at much more bandwith and at specific frequencies, something HDMI cannot do and as time goes by, Display Port will be more heralded as the connection of choice as it will be needed and recommended for PC and definitely professional use. Also, HDMI is not here to stay in the PC realm, as there are in fact additional format connections that will become available this year... such as UDI and Display port, however since both Nvidia and AMD BOTH support Display Port, this will most likely become the next common standard for Display technology for pc's and rightfully so.... Get the FACTS before you shove meaningless personal opinions out in the wild.

The whole point of this article is that HDMI will not last as an official PC standard. Its here now as an additional connection, but won't be for long as a common more advanced and easier to manufacture connection for PC use will most likely take its place.

By THEiNTERNETS on 2/20/2007 7:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
I assumed incorrectly UDI was equivalent to DP, my argument was about VESA's page and your assertions on DisplayPort, not UDI. All of my references to UDI were made under that assumption.

"Get the FACTS before you shove meaningless personal opinions out in the wild."

Don't get uncivil with me. I got the FACTS from the website you listed. Nothing you mentioned addresses my argument. Why don't you explain why it's better to differentiate the PC monitor/HDTV market if you really want to disprove my post. All of the numbers cited in your site seem rather meaningless given the absolute lack of real-world results. Those are the sort of things a consumer is interested in.

"Display Port will be more heralded as the connection of choice as it will be needed and recommended for PC and definitely professional use."

Stuff like that, now that strikes me as a "personal opinion" more so than anything I said. Now instead of antagonizing me why don't you make a reasonable argument?

So far the only point you've made to counter me is:

"Display Port will be able to output at much more bandwith and at specific frequencies, something HDMI cannot do and as time goes by"

Why don't you explain what that means to us less technically-minded people instead of talking in floaty hypotheticals about why DisplayPort is the best? Does it really matter to have more bandwidth at specific frequencies? What does it mean about image quality, color contrast, refresh rate, etc.? All you are doing is playing the same numbers game the site did.

Even assuming that DisplayPort is the magic bullet to all our PC monitor woes, why is better to use it as a standard than to try and converge the HDTV market with the PC Monitor? As I stated before, this is one of Windows' primary targets of interest with Windows Media Center.

See if you can be civil and mature with me this time.

By Brassbullet on 2/20/2007 10:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, although you made it obvious you didn't read the Dailytech article by not knowing UDI and DisplayPort were not synonymous.

The chart on the site linked went out of its way to make very similar features between HDMI and DP look bad for HDMI and good for DP. This is not surprising as the site's goal is to promote DP.

I like the fact that VESA is behind DP and it very well may be a better interface in the long run, but it remains that DVI has yet to even enter the mainstream.

VGA and its analog derivatives are by far the most used interfaces for video. Even now with Vista, HDCP, Blu-ray, etc I'd gather that most PC's being sold today are sold with analog VGA interfaces ONLY.

VGA has lasted 20 years and is still a good interface. What the industry needs is another VGA. If that standard is DisplayPort, than I'm all for it, but it will mean that every DVI based standard will merely be a footnote in display standards.

I guess my main gripe with DisplayPort is that I disagree with their main objective. Consumer Electronics devices should NOT use a different interface than Computers.

By Etsp on 2/25/2007 5:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
There happens to be a great many "VGA's" it's just, they were all compatible with similar cables. The Spec of VGA that you use is based on your resolution. VGA refers to a resolution of 640x480, SVGA refers to a resolution of 800x600, XGA is 1024x768 and so on and so forth. The db-15 display port may be 20 years old, but the standards you currently use are not.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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