Monday, January 07, 2008

Mobile HDMI ready for prime time?

I expect Silicon Image will finally debut today at CES a version of its High Definition Multimedia Interface for mobile devices such as digital cameras, portable media players and cellphones. The technology will face a rising tide of interest in a host of wireless options that are attracting the attention of consumer OEMs including ultrawideband, Wi-Fi and 60 GHz radios.

Silicon Image may sample as early as February chips for its Mobile High Definition Link. MHL pares down the three Transition Minimized Differential Signaling channels in a standard HDMI connection to just one. A streamlined transmitter is embedded in the mobile device and a full HDMI bridge chip is put in a separate wired cradle the OEM would have to design.

The result is a 2.25 Gbit/s link consuming 60 mW average on the mobile device and running over five pins that can be mapped to any existing connector on the device. It aims to carry up to full 1080-progressive video encrypted with HDMI's High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).

Silicon Image probably will not announce costs of the chips, which will be in production in late 2008. However total costs probably will be about the same as a full HDMI link on a TV. OEMs will have to pay the standard four cents per port HDMI royalty, and pass compliance tests at existing HDMI certification facilities.

The MHL work is based on an earlier design from Silicon Image called UDI originally aimed at PCs and notebooks. Computer makers decided to go their own route, developing the DisplayPort specification in the Video Electronics Standards Association—which has its own press conference at CES tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Silicon Image has been selling low power versions of its HDMI chips into high resolution video cameras for two years. MHL marks a significant expansion of that effort aiming for design wins in media players and cameras in 2008 and in cellphones as early as 2009.

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