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Wednesday, July 13, 2005
HDMI Transmitters Suit Desktop PCs

How does the idea of having High Definition input on your desktop PC sound to you? It seems that it becomes a reality, together with the first HDMI-enabled PCs.

Silicon Image, a US-based designer and developer of semiconductor solutions for the secure transmission and storage of digital media, announced the the PanelLink SiI 1390 and SiI 1930 HDMI transmitters interface chip sets that offer direct HD content to the video and audio interfaces of PC platforms.

Developed by Sony, Hitachi, Thomson (RCA), Philips, Matsushita (Panasonic), Toshiba and Silicon Image, the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) has emerged as the connection standard for HDTV and the consumer electronics market. HDMI is a digital interface that combines uncompressed high-definition video, multi-channel audio and intelligent format and command data in a single digital interface.

The HDMI inerface will be used in all HD players and recorders (Blu-Ray, HD-DVD), in HD TV sets, digital projectors etc. The need for HDMI on the PC can be explained if you consider that the HDMI specifications include Intel's HDCP copy protection scheme. Industry needed a way to protect the HD content from unathorized copying.

The SiI 1390 transmitter accepts Intel's Serial Digital Video Output input and offers a fully compliant HDMI output with video resolutions up to UXGA and up to eight channels of 192-kHz audio.

The SiI 1930 features a Transition-Minimized Differential Signaling interface to a Graphics Processor Unit, and provides an HDMI output. Packaged in 64-pin lead-free Epad TQFPs, both ICs support the full 25 to 165-MHz HDMI and DVI bandwidth and a wide variety of audio interfaces, including HD-Audio, SPDIF, and three I2S channels.

However, audio poses a fairly large problem for PC manufacturers. While it?s easy for an IGP motherboard to include audio and video on the same interface, graphics cards are only designed for video. So the question here would be whether the first graphics cards and motherboards that adopt HDMI would probably opt out of utilizing audio over HDMI as most HDMI-ready devices allow analog stereo input, or not. And also will we see the first HDCP compliant HDMI LCD panels connected to our PC soon? Unfortunately, the PC industry doesn?t have an answer for that question just yet.

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