Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dueling display interfaces

What will be the mainstream plug for tomorrow’s digital TVs and LCD monitors-- DisplayPort, the Unified Display Interface, some upgrade of today’s evolving High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) or something yet to emerge?

The DisplayPort people suggest they have some new backers coming in the next 30 days. I’m all ears, dear blog posters.

Analogix announced its first transmitters and receivers for the emerging DisplayPort standard on Monday. See http://www.analogix.com/press/press060828.html
or better yet search for story ID 1070827 on www.eet.com
The interesting wrinkle is Analogix made their chips compatible with HDMI because DisplayPort’s copy protection technology is not yet approved.

The spec for DPCP is done, Michael Epstein of Philips told me. The effort seeks to leapfrog copy protection on HDMI because it uses an 128-bit encryption key along with AES, rather than the 40-bit key used in HDMI’s HDCP. It also adds support for checking the proximity of the transmitter and receiver, a new technique to make sure users aren’t fooling a system to send content out to distant unauthorized users.

The DVD Copy Control Association -- http://www.dvdcca.org/ -- could approve DPCP at their October 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 -- see http://www.dtcp.com/ -- whose DTCP is used on 1394 and many other buses.

“The approvals take a long time because there are a lot of companies and lawyers involved,” said Epstein. Sounds like fun. Not!

Genesis Microchip was first to announce DisplayPort chips, but they didn’t say anything about copy protection in their press release. See http://www.gnss.com/cmp_press_room.phtml?prid=205778

I hope to talk to Intel this week to see if they are preparing any moves to broker a meeting of the display interfaces or any upgrades for the HDMI content protection technology they own.

Shopping for a new DVD player over the weekend, I realized once again that consumers won’t care how many security backflips OEMs build into their products to reassure the studios their content is safe in the digital world. The buyer just wants systems to know all the systems they buy will link to each other in ways that are fully features and won’t freak out with blue screens.

This industry is a fair way from delivering on that hope. --rbm

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