The landscape of desktop connectivity is constantly evolving and improving. Analog video technology is being replaced by digital video technology. Legacy video output ports, such as VGA, are now being replaced by HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs. Audio outputs on computers have improved from a dual-channel stereo audio output to multi-channel digital audio outputs. Data ports such as Parallel and Serial have been replaced by faster technologies, such as USB and SATA. Both USB and eSATA technologies are undergoing changes that improve functionality and usability.
HDMI, or High Definition Multimedia Interface, is a digital audio and video interface. HDMI was the first uncompressed all digital interface to carry both audio and video. The HDMI interface is commonly found on home theater devices, such as HDTVs, Blu-ray players, etc. Recently HDMI has been used as a video port on desktop devices such as laptop computers and computer monitors. Adding an HDMI port to a computer provides an easy way to connect the computer to an HDTV. This connection is becoming more popular as the A/V and IT worlds converge. HDMI Licensing LLC releases updated specifications which outline the requirement for physical construction of the cables as well as the A/V features supported by the HDMI interface. The latest specification, HDMI 1.4, has added features such as 3D over HDMI, 4k x 2k resolution and expanded support for color spaces to improve the A/V experience for the user.
DisplayPort is a digital display standard proposed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). The standard defines a royalty-free digital audio/video interconnect that is intended to connect a computer to a computer monitor or HDTV. DisplayPort signals are composed of a unidirectional main link that carries the audio/video data and a half-duplex bidirectional auxiliary channel that carries monitor information. DisplayPort was introduced in 2006 and has slowly gained popularity within the computer industry. The port was included on approximately 5.1% of commercial desktop computers in 2009, but that figure is expected to grow to 89.5% by 2014. This rapid increase is attributed to the release of the DisplayPort v. 1.2 specification, which includes many new features such as daisy-chained multiple support, USB and Ethernet capabilities.
Digital audio outputs have seen growth in the desktop environment. This signal is typically carried on either a 75-Ohm coaxial cable or an optical fiber cable. A digital audio connection allows the computer to produce a multi-channel audio signal that supports a surround sound system at the desktop or in a home theater. This improves the user's experience when watching movies or gaming.
USB, or Universal Serial Bus, is a data connection which has been familiar to the desktop user since the late 1990's. USB was designed to replace a variety of data ports, such as parallel and serial, allowing users to connect computer peripherals, such as mice, keyboards, and printers. The latest USB specification, USB 3.0 or USB SuperSpeed, has many improvements over the USB 2.0 specification most notably the speed of data transfer. USB 3.0 is primarily designed for data transfer from large mass storage devices. A few examples would be transferring data from a large hard drive, HD video for video editing or Blu-Ray authoring, or high resolution photos for editing and storage.
SATA, or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, is a data connection which is primarily used for connecting drives to a computer. The latest revision to the SATA specification, SATA 3.0 or SATA 6Gbps, is designed to meet the requirements of a Solid State Drive (SSD). SSDs and SSD controllers are capable of reading and writing data at much higher rate than conventional hard drives and controllers. The new SATA revision allows SSD devices to function at their full speed.
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