NEWS

Silicon Image First To Couple Digital Audio And Video On The DVI Link

Debut Of New Chipset Paves The Way For Premium High Definition Content In The Living Room

25-Jan-01

Silicon Image (NASDAQ: SIMG), a price/performance leader in high bandwidth semiconductor solutions for mass markets, took a significant step forward in the effort to bring high definition (HD) Hollywood studio content directly to consumers with the introduction of audio capability on the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) link. The SiI˘ 190˘ PanelLinkĂ transmitter and SiI 991˘ PanelLink receiver are the first semiconductor chips to couple digital audio and video data in a single, secure, all-digital interface capable of supporting uncompressed HD content. The SiI 190 transmitter is designed for an array of consumer electronics (CE) host devices, including set-top boxes, DVD players, D-VHS players and game consoles, while the SiI 991 receiver is compatible with CRT, LCD, plasma and DLP˘-based HDTVs and projectors. Dave Kummer, Vice President of Engineering at EchoStar's DISH Network˘ said, ""EchoStar invests heavily in constantly improving our network and delivering the best entertainment services to our customers. DVI with HDCP will be a key component in future high definition set-top boxes that implement advanced features. Furthermore, since we first became aware of DVI and HDCP, we believe the ability to transmit and receive digital audio data over the same uncompressed digital link as the video data would make the solution even more robust. EchoStar is pleased to know that Silicon Image is addressing this need, and we are excited at the prospect of offering integrated digital audio functionality over the DVI link to our customers in the future."" Frank Romeo, Director of the DTV Strategy Group for Samsung Electronics Corporation said, ""We are pleased that Silicon Image has taken DVI to the next level and has addressed the need to transmit and receive digital audio and video data over the same uncompressed digital connection. This new ability makes DVI an even more robust solution for new generations of digital consumer electronics devices."" Building upon the recent availability of High bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), audio adds yet another layer of functionality to the robust, high bandwidth DVI link. DVI with HDCP enables the encryption of premium HD video between digital CE host and display devices, addressing the motion picture industry's concerns about unauthorized duplication and piracy of their most valuable copyrighted content. With the addition of audio capability to the same DVI link, CE manufacturers can now transmit and receive all digital surround sound formats, including DolbyĂ Digital, DTSĂ Digital Surround˘ as well as PCM stereo, while eliminating the need for a separate audio connector and cables. No additional pins are used as the audio data is embedded within the existing DVI clock channel with an advanced method of data modulation developed by Silicon Image. By reducing the number of system components, embedded audio simplifies OEM system design, lowers component costs and improves ease of use for the consumer. Martin Reynolds, Vice President and Research Fellow for Gartner Dataquest noted, ""Even with today's near-gigabit interfaces, consumer digital AV interconnects require the use of compression. Compressed data drives built-in obsolescence in the display, or a messy and expensive external decoder. Neither is a satisfactory solution for the consumer, who requires a single connection that carries all audio and video between devices and long life of the expensive display subsystem. Also, the interconnect must be encrypted end-to-end to encourage the release of high definition content, a real challenge to analog solutions."" Steve Tirado, Silicon Image COO noted, ""This is all about taking digital to the next level for the consumer electronics market. Consumers want premium digital content and ease of use. We have led the market in quality and integration for over three years now. Today we are upping the ante for digital video by enhancing access to high definition content, simplifying cable management and giving consumers the highest quality digital video and digital audio."" Silicon Image President and CEO Dr. David Lee stated, ""With digital audio, we are demonstrating our ongoing ability to innovate on the DVI link. Silicon Image technology is the foundation of the DVI 1.0 industry specification introduced by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). PanelLink, our proprietary implementation, leads the industry. We were the first to introduce DVI-compliant chips and the first to innovate on the DVI link with HDCP-enabled silicon solutions. Audio is a continuation of this trend."" Constituencies responsible for the widespread release and availability of premium HD content in the home have already indicated their support for DVI with HDCP. Warner Bros., Disney, Universal Studios and Fox, as well as CE manufacturer JVC and satellite broadcast provider Echostar have all endorsed DVI with HDCP. Tirado added, ""Audio strengthens the existing case for DVI as the digital interface for the critical connection between digital host devices and digital TVs. HDCP offers the promise of the highest quality video available, and DVI is the only digital interface with enough bandwidth to accommodate it. In addition, DVI is simple and cost-effective to implement in terms of both software and hardware because it's a point-to-point interface unlike IEEE 1394."" Bandwidth of 2.2 Gigabits per second (Gbps) is required to support uncompressed HD video transmission. With bandwidth of up to 5Gbps for a single DVI link, compared to the 400Mbps supported by IEEE 1394, DVI is the only digital interface capable of accommodating uncompressed digital data such as HD video. Data transmitted in compressed format must first be compressed by the host device and subsequently decompressed by the HDTV upon receipt. This poses several problems. First, the compression and decompression sequence degrades image quality. Second, it requires additional components in both the host and display device, namely an MPEG encoder and decoder, respectively. DVI eliminates the need for these costly components. Additionally, DVI has excess bandwidth to support additional functionality beyond audio and HDCP that may be added in the future, again reducing the need for additional connectors. DVI also has the bandwidth to support higher audio fidelity, such as more channels of surround sound or 96kHz sampling rates, as well as higher video resolution such as 1080p - ensuring no risk of long-term obsolescence. The SiI 190 transmitter and SiI 991 receiver are projected to be sampling in the second quarter of 2001 and begin shipping in production volumes during the third quarter of 2001. For more information about Silicon Image, visit www.siimage.com.

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