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InstaPort Reduces Painful Lag in HDMI Switching

New technology from Silicon Image reduces switching time to one second because it authenticates sources even while ports are not active.


With Instaport, the TV authenticates all of the HDMI-connected devices, even if their connectors are not switched on. They stand ready to deliver content within about one second after the user switches sources.

If you have multiple HDMI sources connected to a single TV, you know the lag time when switching sources can be painful – maybe four to seven seconds.

Silicon Image, developer of HDMI technology, now has a solution called InstaPort that can "reduce switching time to under one second," says Lew Pacely, DTV marketing director for the company.

"It works at least five times faster, and sometimes a little bit more."

The reason for the lag in the first place is that, because of HDCP content protection requirements, says Pacely, "We must authenticate the link before we can distribute content. It just takes some time."

Currently, HDCP authentication takes place only when an HDMI source is actively switched on.

With InstaPort, a new piece of technology allows inactive devices to begin the authentication process, and InstaPort "holds them in ready, even though they are not selected by the TV," Pacely says.

InstaPort can be implemented in a single chip and does not require extra processing power from the device itself.

"It adds processing power, but it is self-contained in our devices," says Pacely. "It operates autonomously from the processor in the TV."

The technology does not in any way alter the content or communications, Pacely says. For example, EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) and CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) operate the same as before. "The source is unaware of InstaPort operation," he says.

InstaPort technology will be incorporated into three new Silicon Image semiconductor products, including the SiI9287 port processor and the SiI9251/SiI9261 input processors, all which will be sampling in July. The first compliant products should be available in the first half of 2009.

The technology cannot be retrofitted into existing TVs.

This figure shows a TV without Instaport. While one source is active, the TV locks out the other sources. Only when another device is switched on, does the TV authenticate that source for transmission. That can take up to seven seconds. The illustration at the top of the page shows how InstaPort can authenticate the unused devices while they are inactive, so they stand "at the ready" to transmit when called upon.

What Took So Long?

When HDMI emerged many years ago, we just didn't have a lot of sources that connected to the TV.

"Either an internal tuner inside the TV or a settop box is where we've gotten most of our content," says Pacely.

Today, however, "the consumer is getting more and more of their channels outside of the box," he adds. "They should have the ability to get the same experience whether it [source] is inside or outside the box."

Silicon Image plans to have a licensable logo program (great another logo) to support InstaPort.

Pacely suggests, however, that participating manufacturers may "bring their own brands," as they do, for example, with HDMI's Consumer Electronics Control (CEC).

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Article Topics

News · HDMI · Hdmi · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

6 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Truth  on  06/30  at  05:17 PM

I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but this is absolute BS for TV or Sink applications. 

Long lag times in switching and acquisition times were not limited to HDCP authentication.  There are already time limits associated with HDCP.  Silicon Image’s acquisition time on older generation devices had to do with the TMDS signal recovery loop which worsened at long cables and higher speeds.  Sub-1s acquisition times already exist with certain competitive ICs without this instaport feature.

Posted by roognation  on  07/09  at  06:56 PM

Yawn.  When HDMI becomes a proven technology and an actual benefit to the consumer, please wake me.

Posted by SethDiggs  on  07/21  at  09:53 AM

If this works it seems like a good product.  Looking fwd it’s just common sense that HDMI authentication time will have to be faster right out of the box.

One Love. “One Standard”

Seth Diggs

Posted by jbrown  on  01/19  at  09:51 AM

It’s funny that a small company like Crestron figured this out over a year ago and is already shipping it in their DM (Digital Media) system, yet the developer of the core technology is just now working it out.

Posted by paulcunningham  on  01/20  at  10:44 AM

I don’t recall ever seeing anyone call Crestron a “small” company without a trace of sarcasm. grin But yes, they do it well with DM for distribution, or their local 8x1 & 8x2 switchers.

Yawn, who cares about HDMI. I’ll worry about it next year when manufacturers are required to stop producing players that allow HD out of analog outputs. Zzzzz….

Posted by jbrown  on  01/20  at  11:12 AM

Obviously Crestron is large compared to most companies in our industry. I meant small in relation to companies like Sony or in deference to the OVER 1 BILLION HDMI devices out there. (all of which seemed to elude “roognation”).

Jason Brown

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