The Eyes Have It
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    This blog discusses all things related to mixed-signal PHY IP such as the latest trends, design challenges and anything that may be controversial.

    I built my first crystal radio at about the age of ten (had help with the soldering iron) and have been dabbling in the analog electronics field ever since. The "James Brown of Analog": I do like James Brown and have I been working in the electronics industry for many years. I’m also a big fan of Reggae and Ska and spent my youth listening to John Peel on Radio 1. Ken Boothe is the greatest singer. Running is a passion. Squaw Valley is the best place to ski. Ever!

    - Navraj Nandra

HDMI’s Brave New Frontier (Forum)

Posted by Navraj Nandra on December 20th, 2011

With over 1150 adopters and an install base of ~2Billion devices, HDMI has achieved an overwhelming success in the world of consumer electronics. Since its premiere at CES in 2003, HDMI has rapidly evolved and penetrated into applications that can be broadly classified into 3 segments: digital home, mobile multimedia and PC. HDMI is now also found in many niche applications like 2Dà3D converter boxes, wireless hubs, automobiles (Honda Odyssey), NAS boxes etc. Given its broad and deep penetration into the world of consumer electronics, HDMI.org made the right decision to open up the standard body and form an entity called HDMI Forum for new companies willing to participate and define the future of HDMI. Synopsys is now a part of the HDMI forum and is looking forward to influence and make positive contributions to the HDMI specification for next generation consumer electronic applications. Being the largest provider of connectivity IPs, we can capture a very broad view of the semiconductor market and overall consumer electronic industry trends. We have collected feedback from over 125 companies that are integrating HDMI connectivity into their SOCs. We constantly meet with consumer electronic giants to discuss their requirements for next generation platforms. This puts us in a very unique position to translate the end customer requirements into HDMI specification.  

Next generation HDMI: Synopsys believes that for its continued success, HDMI should evolve to address the specific needs of each of the three broad segments discussed above.

  1. Digital Home – HDMI dominates this market segment with close to 100% penetration in applications like DTVs, Blu Ray Players, AVRs, and Game Consoles. Hence HDMI should continue to future-proof itself, further enhance the user experience, and integrate some of the digital home connectivity standards. Some specific ideas include:
    1. Increasing bandwidth from 10.2Gbps à ~18Gbps to support deep-color 4K resolution mode
    2. Offer cinema video formats (21:9 aspect ratio as defined in CEA-861-F  specification)
    3. Offer a transparent remote control with the goal to control the source remotely
  2. Mobile Multimedia (battery powered applications) – HDMI has experienced a rapid penetration in the mobile multimedia applications. The top 7 tablets in the world are now supporting HDMI connectivity (either directly or through a dongle). HDMI competes with MHL in mobile applications and should offer the following enhancements to succeed in this segment:
    1. Power consumption is a key factor in mobile applications. Hence HDMI should target to reduce the overall power consumption by Muxing some of the TMDS channels, offering reduced range differential amplitude and low resolution video modes. HDMI should also eliminate some of the legacy requirements such as 5V protection to save area, pin count and power.
    2. Battery charging capability is also extremely important to penetrate into mobile market. HDMI should offer battery charging functionality (just like USB) by using its HPD (hot plug detect) and NC (no connect) pins.
  3. PC Applications – HDMI clearly competes with Displayport in this segment and should offer PC-specific features to penetrate into this eco-system. Some specific ideas to successfully compete with Displayport are:
    1. Increasing bandwidth from 10.2Gbps à ~18Gbps to support resolution up to WQXGA (2560×1600) at 120Hz frame rate. This would require using the TMDS clock lane as a 4th TMDS data channel + embedded clock.
    2. Transporting up to 4 video frames to support daisy chaining for multi-display mode.
    3. Transport USB2.0 traffic within the HDMI cable (similar to HEAC) by mapping D+ and D- from USB2.0 into HDMI NC and HPD pins. Extent CEC to declare USB traffic.

While we are recommending all these new features, Synopsys is mindful that one of the underlying requirements is backwards compatibility to previous generations of the specification. We will always take this into account as we work with other forum members to define the future of HDMI. 

Finally, Synopsys is glad to be a part of the HDMI forum and given our deep understanding of connectivity IPs, we will help enhance HDMI specification and enable it to successfully compete with other standards like DisplayPort, MHL and V-by-One.

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