Meanwhile, STMicroelectronics and Analogix are on a mission to let the whole world know that MHL to HDMI is far from a done deal in the mobile world. They insist that MYDP and SlimPort still have a plenty of time and opportunity to achieve broader acceptance.
Andre Bouwer, vice president of marketing for Analogix, believes MYDP will win support in mobile application processors, operating systems and mobile handsets. Bouwer, while declining to name names, hinted that his company has stirred interest in its forthcoming Slimport products from handset OEMs and apps processor companies.
What exactly would make MYDP more attractive than MHL, then?
Being royalty-free is the first and foremost advantage. SlimPort and MYDP are both based on DisplayPort, a standard owned by VESA and conceived to be a free, open standard.
Second, SlimPort and MYDP can connect to HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort displays. This is an important distinction from MHL, in the view of Analogix’s Bouwer, because with SlimPort (or MYDP), professionals can deliver presentations by connecting a smart phone to a projector. “There is no way to connect a phone with MHL to VGA or DisplayPort display devices like projectors,” he added.
Third, it’s important to note that MHL, SlimPort and MYDP were all created to make the USB connector – already present to power the phone – also transfer video. The key difference between SlimPort/MYDP and MHL, lies in power consumption when streaming video.
Take an example of Samsung’s Galaxy S II smartphone, the first MHL-enabled handset. The Galaxy S II’s standard Micro USB port can be used with an MHL connector for HDMI connection to an external display such as an HDTV set. MHL lets the handset send uncompressed 1080P video and audio to the TV. MHL’s advantage is that it allows the smartphone’s battery to charge while playing back multimedia content.
‘MHL and HDMI are not the same thing’
What may be less openly publicized, though, is that the MHL-enabled mobile device can only draw power from MHL-enabled external displays. “MHL and HDMI are not the same thing,” stressed Bouwer. To date, Toshiba is the only company openly committed with a plan to launching MHL-enabled digital TVs.
In the absence of MHL-enabled HDTV today [HDTV sets on the market today do not support MHL], a smartphone like Galaxy SII featuring MHL could end up eating its own mobile device’s battery when streaming HD video to external displays. Alternatively, MHL-enabled mobile devices can connect to legacy HDMI TVs by using a MHL-to-HDMI dongle. However, because of power consumption issues, “a separate power cable is required,” noted Bouwer.
In contrast, SlimPort can be implemented immediately, driving legacy TVs without modifications and without the need for inconvenient power cables, he added.
Bouwer offered the example of displays with DisplayPort input, like the Dell Ultrasharp U2711. SlimPort devices can charge batteries while playing video on the display.
But not every HDTV today has a DisplayPort. No problem, says Bouwer. “DisplayPort inputs will naturally be added to TVs to replace VGA inputs as VGA declines in the coming years. This input can provide power to the mobile device -- 1.5 watts (W) according to the DisplayPort specifications.”
OK, so what happens if you connect SlimPort to a legacy HDMI-equipped HDTV? In this scenario, SlimPort consumes around 100 milliwatts (mW) in the SlimPort transmitter and around zero milliwatts (mW) in the dongle, according to Bouwer. “This is due in part to the nature of DisplayPort as well as Analogix power recovery technology. The power consumption is less than the internal display of the mobile device, so you can play video longer on the big screen than you can on the internal display. Therefore, no power cables are required.”
To be absolutely fair to Silicon Image, though, MHL-enabled DTVs have been in development, and the company is waiting for its OEMs to announce them, according to a Silicon Image spokesperson. Asked what it would take for OEMs who designed in Silicon Image’s port processors to make their TV sets MHL-capable, she said they must “ensure [that] the firmware in the DTV includes support for MHL technology, and then add a voltage regulator to enable the DTV to provide power over the existing connector.” She noted, “Our estimate is that the addition of the voltage regulator is 5 – 10 cents additional cost.”