One of the sticking points in delivering next-generation video formats from mobile devices and PCs to displays received a new solution Monday.

Lattice Semiconductor, a chip manufacturer which acquired Silicon Image, one of the leading developers of the HDMI interface, revealed Monday a pair of chip solutions for transmitting and receiving new superMHL video and audio signals over USB Type-C (pictured at top) physical connectors. In addition, the solution offers a range of adapters that will support millions of legacy display devices equipped to handle standard MHL connections over an HDMI input.

Lattice said the new solution will enable delivery of 4K UHD video at up to 60 frames per second with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling, immersive multi-channel surround audio, USB 3.1 Gen. 1 or Gen. 2 data signals, and quick charging capability of connected mobile devices.

Read more on superMHL over USB Type-C after the jump.

The Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) allows streaming AV content from a mobile device to a TV or other display, using one cable. The newer superMHL standard, revealed at International CES last January, amps up the speed and quality.

SuperMHL also supports high dynamic range (HDR) video, up to BT.2020 wide color gamut, object-based surround sound, and HDCP 2.2 content protection.

Combined with a USB-Type 4 connector superMHL will enable faster (100W) and smarter (dynamic power) charging, faster data rates, including USB 3.1 (10Gbps per direction), a small, reversible connector, flexible alternate modes (“Alt Modes”) allowing concurrent video and data delivery and flexible vendor defined modes for authentication and security.

USB Type C alt modes support MHL, Thunderbolt and DisplayPort interfaces over the Type C connector. In order to enter one of the Alt Modes a contract has to be established between the receiver and the source. The contract is negotiated and sent using a new standardized communication approach called Powered Delivery (PD) contracts. Both sides have to support the PD communication and be able to understand the Alt Mode in order to have the link.

Once the link is made, regardless of Alt Mode, the supported digital interface running over a USB Type C connector will also support USB 2.0. Depending on which Alt Mode is selected USB 3.1 could also be supported at the same time.

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Lattice said the new chips — models SiI8630 and SiI9396 — are a low-power superMHL transmitter and receiver pair, respectively, that will deliver and receive 4K 60fps/4:4:4 video over a single lane, enabling a PC experience with USB Type-C devices. The transmitter would be placed in a notebook, phone or tablet while the receiver would be placed inside a display.

Although MHL has traditionally been a digital interface used for mobile devices, the company said that combining superMHL and USB Type 4 opens the use of the interface to a wide range of entertainment products. The combination will allow users to stream video and home theater quality audio from mobile devices, set-top boxes (STBs), Blu-ray Disc players, AVRs, streaming media sticks and other source devices to TVs and monitors.

Using MHL Alt modes, the solution will work with a number of adapters including: USB Type-C to micro-USB; USB Type-C to HDMI; and USB Type-C to MHL passive cable, for use with phones to connect to MHL-enabled displays.

The SiI8630 transmitter is able to seamlessly interface with HDMI 2.0 transmitters already integrated into the Application Processors used in the smartphones, tablets and notebooks. Lattice said that since this part has an MHL switch, it enables a direct interface with a USB 2.0-enabled Type-C connector without the need for additional high-speed switches. Lattice said the SiI8630 transmitter chip combined with another Lattice chip, model Si7033, will allow delivering 4K 60fps video with concurrent USB 3.1 Gen 1 data.

“Our superMHL transmitters and receivers offer the lowest power, quick time to market, and the only solution to offer concurrent USB 3.1 data with 4K60 UHD video to address the growing number of productivity applications for mobile devices,” said Abdullah Raouf, senior marketing manager at Lattice Semiconductor. “Other video solutions require four lanes to deliver 4K 60fps, which inhibits concurrent 4K video with USB 3.1 data.”

According to Lattice, the SiI9396 receiver is optimal for MHL adapters and docks.

“When paired with the SiI7023 or SiI7033, MHL accessories can be designed to connect USB Type-C mobile and PC products to HDMI displays and USB devices such as keyboards, mice and external storage,” the company said in a statement. “The SiI9396 receiver can also be used in monitors, projectors and TVs to connect to MHL and superMHL sources, including mobile and PC devices with the USB Type-C connector.”

Lattice added that USB Type-C products using these solutions will be able to connect to more than 750 million legacy MHL and future superMHL TVs, monitors, projectors, and AVRs, with next generation source devices including: Blu-ray Disc players, set-top boxes video game consoles, mobile devices and automotive products.

“Let’s say a consumer purchases a new notebook, tablet or phone with a USB Type-C connector on it and super MHL,” Raouf told HD Guru. “The top cable is going to convert the USB Type-C to Micro USB, which means the legacy displays that someone has purchased over the past three or four years can instantly connect to their new phone or tablet or notebook. They don’t need to go out and purchase new displays.”

Raouf said the middle cable is going to convert USB Type-C to HDMI, meaning it can drive any HDMI-type display. The bottom is going to convert USB Type-C to MHL, and there are already millions of MHL-type displays in the market.

Legacy displays with MHL connected to superMHL/USB-Type C devices will also continue to charge connected mobile devices through the display.

By Greg Tarr


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