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superMHL Hits Home

superMHL Hits Home
Posted 04/13/2016 by C.H. Chee

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For several years now, the audio / video connector market has been fairly stable. If you want to connect a video source to a new monitor, you would use DisplayPort. If you want to connect home theater devices to your TV, HDMI® would be the obvious choice. So at first glance an A / V standard from the mobile world moving into the home theater space seems a bit odd. But the reality is, superMHL™ is a natural evolution for the standard, and promises to bring key benefits to the living room.

A Super Upgrade
The MHL Consortium started out to solve a specific problem, outputting pristine quality audio and video from mobile devices to larger displays, while charging back the mobile device. Since the first MHL products were released in 2010, more than 900 million devices with MHL technology have been shipped worldwide. Enabling high quality A / V from mobile devices required overcoming some significant technical hurdles, (for example, being able to deliver HDMI-like bandwidth over five pins instead of 19) requiring the architects of the standard to innovate new solutions to succeed. The MHL Consortium, made up of leaders in the CE and mobile space, have built upon the experience of the past decade of digital connectivity to develop superMHL, a new, modern architecture for connecting devices in the home theater.

So, as the latest entrant in an admittedly crowded market, what does superMHL do for you? Well, superMHL’s new features can broadly be categorized as: quality, flexibility, performance and power.

Higher Quality
superMHL is the first specification to deliver 8K UHD (7680 x 4320 pixels) resolution video at 120 frames per second (fps). This is four times the pixels of 4K UHD and 32 times the pixel density of 1080p HD resolutions. Advanced color and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support ensures that the picture not only packs in more pixels, but that the colors are deeper and brighter, delivering a more true-to-life image. superMHL also supports Deep Color with up to 48-bits of color per pixel at different color depths. Audio also gets a boost from previous MHL generations, with immersive object audio technology from Dolby and DTS improving the sound space. Finally, superMHL supports HDCP 2.2, the latest version of HDCP, that’s been approved by Hollywood for the secure distribution of premium content.

More Flexibility
The superMHL specification also introduces a new optional 32-pin connector and cable that helps simplify those blind plug-ins behind your TV. superMHL also integrates Hi-Speed USB 2.0, a key feature in today’s data driven home theaters. With superMHL the same cable that is being used to deliver audio and video can also be used to send images or other data.

The new connector responds to two trends in the market; the need for a future-proof connector that can handle the bandwidth needs of the nascent 8K market today, with room for bandwidth expansion in the future, and the recent trend towards reversible connectors.

Faster and More Powerful (Literally!)
The new superMHL connector meets both of these needs with a single, 32-pin reversible connector that supports a staggering 108Gbps bandwidth. The superMHL connector is also rated to 3A of current, which enables up to 40W of charging at higher voltage and current.

superMHL CablesuperMHL Connector

A Revolution in Home Theater
While there’s been a lot of market hype around USB Type-C™, (we’re excited about the new connector too!) at Lattice we believe that superMHL has the potential to be as revolutionary for the home theater space as HDMI was more than a decade ago.

A number of standards now support combining audio, video and data into a single connector (among them DisplayPort, HDMI and USB Type-C), however only superMHL combines the benefits of the highest bandwidth, a reversible connector, and modern architecture, with a focus on the home theater market into a single standard.

We feel the innovative features of superMHL will enable new devices that don’t just deliver the best quality audio and video, but also connect and communicate in new ways. We have a growing portfolio of superMHL solutions that will enable manufacturers to take advantage of the technology’s powerful features with easy to implement, cost effective, and flexible ICs. The living room of the future is sure to be an exciting one!