Analogix rounds out DisplayPort offering

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Analogix Semiconductor (Santa Clara, Calif.) announced Wednesday (Jan. 8) its first receiver chip for the DisplayPort interconnect. The news comes on the heels of the first plugfest for the digital interface proponents say will be used in a range of computer and consumer systems.

DisplayPort seeks to replace Digital Visual Interface, Low Voltage Differential Signaling and eventually VGA in a rage of computer monitors, TVs, projectors and notebooks. It competes directly with a variant of High-Definition Multimedia Interface called Universal Display Interface which is aimed at simplifying HDMI for PCs.

HDMI is the big fish in high def interconnects for consumer systems such as TVs. HDMI Licensing, LLC, the agent responsible for licensing HDMI, announced that more than 500 manufacturers have adopted the standard, a 60 per cent increase since the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. However, HDMI chips are generally seen as too large, power hungry and expensive to replace analog VGA in computers.

Analogix's DisplayPort receiver, the ANX9811, is now sampling. Paired with the company's existing transmitter, the ANX9801, the chips support the full 10.8 Gbits/second data rate and WQXGA resolution of DisplayPort. The chips have been tested to perform at the 15 meter cable length specified by the Video Electronics Standard Association.

Ed Keane, chief strategy officer of Analogix, said the receiver is unique in that it can link to either a scaler chip or directly to a timing controller inside a monitor. The latter approach supports a new trend in which the host system handles and controls directly all video processing in the monitor.

The chips, which will be in production by April, are aimed initially at use in high-end graphics cards and monitors bundled with computer systems.

Genesis Microchip Inc. (San Jose) announced the first DisplayPort receiver/transmitter pair in July and has demonstrated the chips at several events since that time. The Genesis chips can transmit and receive full HD video of 1080progressive at 30 bits/pixel at 120Hz or QSXGA resolution graphics of 2560×2048 at 60Hz. The chips support cable lengths up to 50 feet.

The next step for Analogix is to add in support for copy protection as defined in the DisplayPort 1.1 spec proposed in November at the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) that oversees DisplayPort. That spec, expected to be finalized in early 2007, defines a hybrid approach that embraces both DisplayPort's own copy protection technology and the existing approach used in HDMI and known as High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).

Initially the two camps were set to support separate copy protection schemes. Analogix got around the problem by making its DisplayPort chips compatible with DVI which supports HDCP.

Computers will be required to have copy protection to gain a Microsoft Vista Premium logo needed to support in a PC inputs from digital cable TV or the next generation high definition DVD players. Analogix plans to roll out versions of its parts supporting the 1.1 spec by June.

In the second half of 2007, Analogix plans to roll out new versions of its DisplayPort parts that sport both lower power consumption and higher performance, targeting systems including notebook computers.

DisplayPort backers held their first interoperability testing event December 14 in Milpitas, Calif. The plugfest was closed to the public, but Keane said multiple chip, systems and cable makers were present at the event which was considered a success.

“You always uncover little things that need to be worked on, but we see no issues getting our chips into production on schedule,” Keane said.

According to a VESA press release participating companies included Agilent, Tektronix, Molex and chip designers Parade and Genesis Microchip. A workshop on DisplayPort held that day drew 65 attendees from 28 companies.

This year, DisplayPort backers will be hammering out a 2.0 spec that defines higher data rates, a so-called micro-packet architecture to support more logical display functions controlled by a host and more bi-directional features.

DisplayPort proponents including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and Lenovo will gather at the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 9 to discuss the roadmap for the interconnect.

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