HDMI 0.9 Released

The High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) organization announced last week that the draft specification version 0.9 defining HDMI digital interface for consumer electronics is now available for review at the organization's Website. The HDMI members include Hitachi, Matsushita (Panasonic), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson Multimedia, and Toshiba.

The HDMI draft specification is intended to provide manufacturers interested in developing HDMI-capable products with detailed information on implementing HDMI functionality, paving the way for including the spec in upcoming digital video devices such as HDTV sets and cable and satellite set-top boxes.

The new specification includes the ability to integrate digital audio by using auxiliary packetized data transfer technology and a final design for the 15 mm, 19-pin HDMI interface for CE devices. The spec also incorporates the High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) system to restrict use of digital content.

The organization says that version 0.9 of the specification is being provided to interested parties under a Specification Review Agreement, allowing review of the draft before finalization of v 1.0 of the specification. HDMI adds that the release of version 0.9 of the specification represents a "significant milestone" and has been met with broad industry support from major motion picture producers Fox and Universal, satellite companies DirecTV and EchoStar, cable companies, and consumer electronics manufacturers.

The HDMI protocol is expected to combine high definition video and multi-channel audio in a single digital interface with a bandwidth of up to 5GB/second. As reported earlier, the key technology underlying the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) will also serve as the basis for the new HDMI specification.

Analyst Wanda Meloni comments, "HDMI offers a viable and attractive solution to the current HDTV stalemate. HDMI should unlock the floodgate. The pace at which the HDMI founders have reached this milestone is encouraging to all those with a vested interest in the success of HDTV." What is not so clear is what will become of the thousands of HDTV sets currently sporting analog HDTV connections, and what type of restrictions Hollywood will exert over the HDMI-controlled digital content. Stay tuned.