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ViaPort Eliminating HDMI ‘Handshake’ Problems

Silicon Image ViaPort Technology allows integrators to run HDMI directly from the source to the TV without having to go through the receiver.


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Marshall Goldberg, senior product marketing manager at Silicon Image, says the ability to put the receiver at the “end of the line” instead of between the source component and the display will greatly resolve installation issues.

Quietly tucked away in demo room MP 25544 in the back of the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2011 was perhaps the biggest innovation to hit home theater in a while.

Chipmaker Silicon Image showed off working prototypes of its new ViaPort Technology that solves a major HDMI problem in basic home theater design.

As more consumers purchase thinner TVs, they are recognizing the internal speakers on the TV just don’t cut it, resulting in more home theaters with an A/V receiver (AVR) and external speakers.

One consistent problem technicians encounter is getting the AVR to complete the HDMI handshake in full 1080p between the Blu-ray player and the TV. Older AVRs are often a hindrance for the HDMI handshake to occur.

With ViaPort technology, an installer can move the AVR to the end of the lineup, enabling a direct connection between the source and up to five displays. This enables the source and sink to take advantage of the latest technologies (3D/Ethernet/4K over HDMI) without the need to replace older, incompatible AVRs, which can block the source/sink signals.

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The new topology permitted by the embedded chip will make life a lot easier for integrators.

Enhanced audio and simplified system setup are additional benefits. The receiver only needs HDMI "in." The breakthrough is achieved by adding an HDMI "out" to the DTV and incorporating ViaPort technology in a DTV chip. The technology also allows an integrator to daisy-chain via HDMI up to eight TVs.

“This is a real innovation,” says Marshall Goldberg, senior product marketing manager. “This is not vaporware.”

How Soon Until Adoption?
Why was this big news so discrete at CES? Silicon Image is at CES primarily to show off the product directly to manufacturers in an attempt to get them to adopt the new chip in their displays.

Silicon Image currently has its Port Processor chip in flat panels made by nine of the top 10 manufacturers, already selling 70 million of those chips. The outlook for ViaPort is strong, according to Alex Chervet, director of marketing, who says Silicon Image’s manufacturer/customers "want the chips in Q1" to test. That translates into possibly seeing the technology in displays by later in 2011 without negligible cost to an individual display. (Existing chipsets from Silicon Image averaged $1.38 each in Q3 of 2010, but that includes more expensive units for components like RAID devices.)

For technicians having trouble with HDMI in the field, it sure wouldn’t hurt to press their preferred TV manufacturers to incorporate the new chip ASAP.




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Wire and Cable · HDMI · Events · CES · Ces 2011 · Home Theater · Installation · Silicon Image · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

13 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by weddellkw  on  01/17  at  04:53 PM

So instead of 1 HDMI to the TV from the AVR you have to run one for each source plus one to the AVR?  Or add an HDMI switch?

No thanks, easier to replace/upgrade the AVR to something current.

Posted by Seth_J  on  01/17  at  07:02 PM

How on earth will this make things easier?!?! 4 sources = 5 wires in the wall?? WTF?!

Sorry but this is about the dumbest idea since the helicopter ejection seat.

Posted by Chard  on  01/17  at  09:34 PM

What a complete waste of time to create such an idea. This is not a solution. I really believe these engineers have never seen how “home theater” is done.

As stated in a comment above, it is easier to replace the AVR. Far more cost effective as well.

Posted by phsjason  on  01/17  at  09:58 PM

This is a solution for the meek squad guys who deliver a TV on a stand, plug in some cables and walk out in 30 minutes.  Not for integrators.

-Dislike-

Posted by toslink  on  01/18  at  12:09 AM

Once again, a group with no real-world installation experience develops a solution that doesn’t address the problem with a usable solution. No installer mounting a television (much less a projector) will pull an HDMI cable for each source. It simply won’t happen.

Posted by jritch  on  01/18  at  09:03 AM

Who is your target audience?  This article was not written with the viewpoint of a Custom Installer in mind.  It’s more of a shill for a manufacturer than an objective viewpoint on a product and how it affects our industry.

Posted by 39 Cent Stamp  on  01/18  at  11:00 AM

The major problem is not with pulling multiple HDMI cables to your display device. Even though its ridiculous and impossible if you have 8 HDMI sources and 2 HDMI inputs… The major issue to think about is…

What happens in 2 years when this silly idea gets abandoned and you have to go back out to a job and replace a TV that does not have the viaport?

What happens when the clever CI decides to put his AVR in a different closet relying on this new topology?

HDMI coupler and an HDMI switch band-aid wont work because you still need an HDMI out of the AVR back to the TV. Does the kit come with flexible conduit? That might save the day.

Posted by Michael Bender  on  01/18  at  12:13 PM

It seems to me that this is a “solution” to a problem that should never have existed if HDMI, and especially HDCP, had been properly designed and implemented with consideration towards real-world environments rather than the simplistic view of a point-to-point, component-to-monitor, short-distance cable environment. How many of us have pulled our hair out over HDMI and HDCP issues due to crappy design and implementation by CE manufacturers that are more concerned with saving a penny than providing a robust interface?

Posted by C Erdman  on  01/18  at  03:37 PM

Lets all go back to component video. It always worked.

Posted by Geoff Garwood  on  01/21  at  09:22 PM

This is awesome! Now when I have the source equipment 20 meters away from the TV and the customer has 4 sources I get to run 5 really expensive cables (or cat5 baluns that don’t work perfectly) to the monitor! Wow, what a profit center! HDMI is the worst piece of s*** ever foisted on us integrators, but we HAVE to make it work somehow with 1080p and 3D and all that other stuff. As someone else said above, these engineers don’t know how things get installed in the real world.

Posted by cm  on  01/23  at  03:00 PM

New TVs already have optical audio out, which is just as good except for 7 channel.

Posted by Bruce Coffman  on  02/11  at  05:02 PM

Just found this in the bottom of my email pile. What a hoot!  Are you sure they weren’t planning on saving this for April 1st release?

I would imagine that Noel Lee thinks it’s a WONDERFUL idea - easily worth another Lambo…

Posted by 2 Cents  on  02/14  at  07:59 AM

Yeah!!! Another stupid product that we should tell our clients they HAVE TO BUY to make their stuff work. Component works 150% of the time! I think I am going to order some of those HDMI to component adapters and start testing them. Damn the man. I’m tried of Bluray players going on the blink and AVR companies telling me I need to use a signal boaster if im going over 2 meters to the AVR.  What crap - I think I’m going to introduce a new technology that runs on string with a can at each end - I think will be more reliable.

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