Risk of consumer confusion unlikely to halt advance of DisplayPort

asked Randy Lawson, senior analyst with iSuppli Corporation, about his new report Hogging the Spotlight: HDMI Growth Continues in Spite of DisplayPort.

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) has become the dominant interface technology for connecting HD devices, featuring in more than 70 per cent of digital televisions sold worldwide in 2007.

It is consolidating its domination of DVD players and digital set-top-boxes and is the interface of choice for Blu-ray players, flat-panel HD televisions, video-game consoles and even PCs.

Randy Lawson, senior analyst, Digital TV Semiconductor and Display Drivers, at iSuppli, has looked at whether HDMI’s commanding position can be maintained and what, if any, challenges it faces.

He suggests that the main contender as an alternative technology – DisplayPort – offers a credible challenge to HDMI .
Yet he concludes that while HDMI will lose some market share to its competitor, particularly in desktop and mobile PC platforms, it will continue to dominate in the near term.

The iSuppli report suggests that both DisplayPort and HDMI will see healthy unit growth in the PC equipment space as more consumers jump on board the convergence bandwagon at home.

It forecasts global shipments of DisplayPort-enabled equipment will grow to 263.3 million units by 2012, up from zero in 2007.
Meanwhile, HDMI-enabled equipment will grow to 772.8 million units in 2012, rising at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 32 per cent from 193 million units in 2007.

Lawson said there was a very real threat of consumer confusion caused by PC manufacturers choosing to incorporate DisplayPort into their products – and he questioned whether the industry really needed another new interface at this point.

“However, there are, in my opinion, some strong arguments in favour of DisplayPort gaining share in the PC space over the next few years,” he said.

HDMI to be overtaken by DisplayPort in the desktop and mobile PC market

While HDMI has been adopted by desktop and mobile PC platforms and presently surpasses DisplayPort in this market, Lawson expects DisplayPort to take over the lead in this market after 2010, as PC OEMs move away from VGA interfaces and adopt HD solutions.

Lawson said that the DisplayPort interface standard will be the successor to the VGA interface on PC monitors as well as desktop and notebook PCs.

“Some interface will need to displace VGA’s dominant role and both Intel and AMD have up to three DisplayPort interfaces integrated into upcoming chipsets that would allow for two external DisplayPort ports and one internal/embedded interface,” he said.

Lawson said that two of the largest PC OEM’s are fully backing DisplayPort – Dell and HP.
“So they fully intend to expand DisplayPort’s presence in the space and I expect others will follow in time,” he said.

“Some technical features of DisplayPort, such as scalability of the interface, embedded clock signal, fewer wires compared to HDMI at high bandwidth, packetised data carrying scheme, and high bandwidth auxillary channel, also offer functionality that is more important to PC/notebook applications.

“DisplayPort adoption will additionally be hampered by costs of initial, first generation silicon, and I think DisplayPort will be very challenged by HDMI in the consumer/multi-function monitor product segment.

“But in the PC/notebook segment, the scalability of the interface – where higher resolutions are generally always coming out, unlike CE where 1080p is an upper limit for the foreseeable future – the chip integration and the VGA-replacement need, and the backing of Intel, Dell, HP and AMD all argue in favour of a positive outlook for the technology in my opinon.

“Slow uptake yes, but long term success in the IT segment I believe.”

He said that DisplayPort’s potential largest market opportunity could be in embedded video/display interfaces, such as LCD panels inside TV’s and notebook PC’s, where legacy designs use older, bulkier, parallel LVDS-type interfaces.”

He said this is a potentially huge opportunity for the technology, as iSuppli predicts more than 600 million mobile PCs and 550 million LCD-TVs will be shipped during the period of 2008 to 2011.

Lawson’s arguments for HDMI’s continued growth and success include:

– HDMI momentum developed over the past 2 to 3 years is staggering. The HDMI.org standard association now lists over 800 licensees, adding over 100 in the past 18 months alone.

– HDMI has broadened in scope, now being found in portable CE products such as HD-capable camcorders, on video game consoles, and standalone DVR boxes (like a TiVo box). Sony even now has a Digital Photo Frame that has HDMI on it.

– HDMI’s license fees not being a concern to component manufacturers

He concluded: “So, within the high definition, consumer electronic product space, I don’t foresee any other standard really challenging HDMI in the near term.”

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