Monday, July 30, 2012

Fwd: Smart Phone and Smart TV Interface: MHL, HDMI, and Thunderbolt

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From: "NPD DisplaySearch News" <>
Date: Jul 30, 2012 5:06 AM
Subject: Smart Phone and Smart TV Interface: MHL, HDMI, and Thunderbolt
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Smart Phone and Smart TV Interface: MHL, HDMI, and Thunderbolt
As published in the DisplaySearch Monitor, July 2012
By David Hsieh
The increase in mobile devices, especially smart phones and tablet PCs, is increasing consumers' need to connect their smart handheld devices to the LCD TV in their living rooms, which offers a bigger screen and a more comfortable viewing experience. The trend toward connecting a smart mobile device with a smart TV was analyzed in the June 15 NPD DisplaySearch Monitor article "Tablet PC and Smart TV Joining Forces."
Because wireless connections are still limited by higher cost and lower connective efficiency, wired connections and interfaces will be the key. In the past, there was a need to connect two fixed devices; now there is a need to connect a mobile device with a fixed or mobile device. USB (Universal Serial Bus) is widely used for the connection interface, but it's limited by feature and high definition transmission bandwidth. Therefore new interfaces such as MHL, HDMI 1.4, and Thunderbolt have been developed. This article offers basic profiles for these interfaces.
  • MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link)
    The MHL specification is an HD video and digital audio interface for connecting mobile phones and portable devices to HDTVs and other home entertainment products. It uses established connectors and features a single cable with a 5-pin interface, supports 1080p HD video and digital audio, and simultaneously provides power to the mobile device. It also allows the TV remote to control the mobile phone and access its contents. Silicon Image has been a major MHL promoter, especially after the company announced the MHL 2.0 chip for phone and HTDV with 1080p and 60 Hz.
  • HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)
    HDMI is a compact audio/video interface for transferring uncompressed digital audio/video data from a HDMI-compliant device (the source or input) to a compatible digital audio device, computer monitor, video projector, and digital TV. A digital audio/video source for HDMI can include a HDMI-compliant set-top box, DVD player, HD DVD player, Blu-ray Disc player, AVCHD camcorder, personal computer, video game console (such as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U), AV receiver, tablet computer, and mobile phone. HDMI is a digital alternative to consumer analog standards, such as radio frequency (RF) coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, component video, D-Terminal, or VGA (also called D-sub or DE-15F). The earliest HDMI was developed and agreed upon in 2002. For now, it's the most widely used and most important interface for digital multimedia devices. There are more than 1,000 companies making HDMI interface equipped devices. HDMI 1.4 is the latest version, which increases maximum resolution to 4K×2K (3840 × 2160p (Quad HD) at 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz or 4096 × 2160p at 24 Hz, which is a resolution used in digital theaters).

  • Thunderbolt
    Thunderbolt is an interface for connecting peripheral devices to a computer via an expansion bus. Intel developed Thunderbolt and brought it to market through a technical collaboration with Apple. It was introduced commercially on Apple's updated MacBook Pro lineup in February 2011, using the same connector as Mini DisplayPort. Though Apple registered the Thunderbolt trademark, full rights belong to Intel, which subsequently led to the transfer of the registration from Apple to Intel.
    The most important feature of the Thunderbolt interface is that it combines PCI Express and DisplayPort into a serial data interface that can be carried over longer and less costly cables. It also has data transmission of up to 10 Gbps. Thunderbolt was originally intended for use in PCs. However, as Apple intends to use the Thunderbolt interface in the next generation iPhone and iPad, Thunderbolt will become a competitor to MHL and HDMI 1.4. Although Thunderbolt started with the Apple adoption, many mobile PC makers are planning to equip their products with it.
MHL use is growing rapidly as it's the most convenient interface for connecting a mobile device with an HDTV. MHL uses a 5-pin connector to easily transfer high definition content uncompressed. Meanwhile, as there is no connector regulation, the micro-USB connector can communicate with the MHL interface. This helps to reduce cost. Furthermore, MHL also functions as a power supply, which is especially attractive for portable devices. Finally, MHL offers a faster data transmission rate (1M bit/second vs. 417 bit/second for HDMI 1.4).
The MHL consortium has announced that since the release of the first specification in June 2010, there are more than 100 adopters (licensees) implementing the MHL standard worldwide. Products developed by these companies include adapters, automotive accessories, AV receivers, Blu-ray Disc players, cables, DTVs, monitors, projectors, smart phones, tablets, and TV accessories. Since the retail introduction of the first MHL-enabled devices less than a year ago, the MHL ecosystem continues to grow with a steady stream of product announcements (see the MHL Consortium press release here).
The threat from Thunderbolt is that it's compatible with the MyDP (Mobility DisplayPort) standard (in other words, MyDP is compatible with DisplayPort and Thunderbolt is compatible with MyDP). MyDP uses a 5-pin connector, and it can supply power while it transmits data (MHL can also do this). Also Apple is a dominant mobile phone and smart tablet PC provider and Apple is choosing Thunderbolt rather than MHL or HDMI 1.4. This means that the competition between the mobile device interface standards will increase in the near future.
Table 1 Comparison of MHL, HDMI, and Thunderbolt

MHL 1.0
MHL 2.0
HDMI 1.4
June 2010
April 2012
June 2009
February 2011
Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony, Toshiba
Hitachi, Silicon Image, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba
Intel, Apple
HD Image Transmission
3D Support
IP Protection Technology
Data Transmission Speed
1M bit/second
417 bit/second
10 Gbit/second
Power Supply
5V, 500 mA
5V, 900 mA
Connector Regulation
Mini DisplayPort
Connector Pin Counts
Type A/C/D: 19
Type B: 29
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