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HDMI 1.4 IC packs fast switching tech

Posted: 01 Oct 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HDMI  transceiver IC  Ethernet  interface 

Digital consumer devices, including AV receivers, sound bars or home-theatre-in-a-box systems, slated for launch in the coming holiday season might include HDMI 1.4—a digital interface promising new options including support for 3D processing, audio return channel and Ethernet channel.

Most likely, those are powered by Analog Devices Inc.'s new HDMI 1.4 transceiver IC, rather than those by Silicon Image, Inc., a leader in HDMI innovation.

ADI claims to be the first in the industry to start sampling HDMI 1.4 transceiver chip. The move is a coup for ADI, at a time when Silicon Image, ADI's biggest competitor in this market, appears to be fumbling with its own HDMI 1.4 chip. Silicon Image announced the chip in June but a broader sampling is not in sight.

When asked about the new HDMI 1.4 chip, Waheed Rasheed, director of marketing at Silicon Image stressed, "Sampling started in the second half of 2009." But he added, "Products incorporating HDMI Specification Version 1.4 features are expected to reach retail stores in the first quarter of 2010."

Meanwhile, ADI noted that its HDMI 1.4 chips are in the hands of lead customers. Doug Bartow, strategic marketing manager of ADI's advanced television segment, said, "Definitely, there will be retail products incorporating our HDMI 1.4 chips this Christmas."

ADI's new HDMI 1.4 transceiver chip, ADV7623, supports both audio return channel and 3D display, but not Ethernet over HDMI. In contrast, Silicon Image plans to support all three in its upcoming HDMI 1.4 product family.

But considering customers' growing demand for a new audio return channel feature embedded in HDMI 1.4 chips, ADI decided it would be better to fill orders in time for Christmas, rather than delay while cramming every capability into the first product. Bartow said, "Truth to be told, we had already begun developing the first HDMI 1.4 chips—due to the strong demand by our customers—even before the HDMI 1.4 spec was completed."

ADI is also pitching ADV7623 as the industry's first single-chip HDMI 1.4 transceiver.

Competitors' solutions often come in separate chips—a receiver, a transmitter and a port processor to support fast switching—in addition to memory and passives to complete HDMI 1.4 solution. ADI's Bartow claimed, "With our transceiver chip, all you need is one chip. It translates into at least Rs.97.23 to Rs.145.84

($2 to $3) cost savings for OEMs."

ADI has also added to ADV7623 a fast switching technology, called Xpressview.

It allows fast, automatic switching between HDMI-enabled AV devices. ADI claims that it offers switching in "less than a second," since the new chip is designed to handle, upfront, verification and authorisation of connected HDMI-enabled AV devices, and keep those devices in a standby mode.

By not having to reauthorise an HDMI-enabled AV device every time when an AV receiver switches its source, an AV receiver powered by Xpressview will offer consumers "visible improvements," according to Bartow. Such a feature is similar to Silicon Image's "InstaPort," offered in its port processor already launched last year.

ADI's new single-chip HDMI 1.4 transceiver IC is priced at Rs.532.33 ($10.95) in the quantity of 1,000. Silicon Image is not disclosing its pricing.

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