Mr. Vipin Sawhney, Country Head, Silicon Image shares his views with Technuter.com:
- Could you please tell us about Silicon Image?
Founded in 1995, Silicon Image, a Lattice Semiconductor Company, is a leading provider of multimedia connectivity solutions and services for mobile, consumer electronics and PC markets. Silicon Image has been delivering wired and wireless connectivity solutions across a wide array of devices including mobile phones, tablets, DTVs, Blu-ray Disc players, audio-video receivers as well as desktop and notebook PCs.
Silicon Image delivers its products via semiconductor and intellectual property products that are compliant with global industry standards. The company has developed highly successful HDMI and DVI industry standards. Silicon Image along with Samsung, Toshiba, Sony and Nokia developed MHL or Mobile High-Definition Link, which is the de-facto standard for mobile-to-display connectivity.
Silicon Image was acquired by Lattice Semiconductor Corporation in March 2015.
- What is MHL?
MHL technology allows you to connect your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices to TVs, monitors, projectors, in-dash automotive displays, audio-video receivers (AVRs) and a rapidly expanding ecosystem of other products.
Developed by Silicon Image as a Promoter of the MHL Consortium (along with Nokia, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba), MHL technology features a single-cable, 5-pin digital interface that transmits video up to 4K UHD resolution and surround audio while simultaneously providing power to your mobile device.
MHL technology is optimized for mobile as it allows users to send uncompressed UHD video, data, audio and power over a single connector.The MHL specification enables companies to leverage popular connectors already present on many mobile devices and displays, including USB Type-C, micro-USB and HDMI Type A, in addition to proprietary connectors. Once connected, you can use the TV’s remote control to stop, play, pause and rewind movies and TV programs on your phone for a true lean back experience.
The technology is optimised for mobile and sends uncompressed, Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video and up to 8 channels of surround sound audio from an MHL smartphone or tablet to any TV, monitor or display, while also charging the device. With MHL, smartphones and tablets can be transformed into game consoles, home entertainment systems, PCs and more.
Today, MHL is found in more than 750 million products worldwide.
At CES 2015, MHL also released its latest specification, superMHL. superMHLdelivers significant mobile advancements such as higher resolution and frame rates along with 40W of power charging, while broadening MHL’s reach in home theater connectivity by supporting 8K video resolution and expanded audio formats. With superMHL, consumers can link their mobile devices, set-top boxes (STBs), Blu-ray Disc™ players, AVRs, streaming media sticks and other source devices to TVs and displays. The release of a new reversible superMHL connector supports enhanced video formats to deliver lifelike, immersive content between home theater products and displays.
More information on superMHL can be found here:
- What are your India plans and how do you see consumer adoption of MHL in India?
First, many of the leading smartphones from Samsung and Sony and HDTV brands in India, such as Sony, Samsung, LG and Toshiba, support MHL today. In addition, multiple retail channels in India are already carrying MHL compatible products and accessories and we’re working on expanding the retail footprint. Finally, by working (either directly or via strategic partnerships) with some of the leading Indian mobile phone companies, we’re expanding the penetration of MHL into mid-range phones as well as into additional high-end Android devices.
- How do you see the MHL technology evolving in next couple of years?
The MHL Consortium is made up of companies that are leaders in the mobile and CE space. The goal of each specification is to deliver a set of features that enable companies to stay ahead of the industry curve, forecasting the future needs of consumers.
During MWC 2015, Silicon Imageannounced the launch of industry’s first single-chip USB Type-C port controllers. SiI7023 and SiI7033include MHL Alternate Mode for the USB Type-C specification, as well as port configuration switches. These ICs have fully integrated USB Type-C communication transceiver, holding to the Power Delivery and Configuration Channel necessities defined in the USB Type-C related specifications. Device manufacturers can use these new port controllers whichincluded switches in order to deliver brilliant MHL 4K Ultra HD video, power, immersive audio, and data over the USB Type-C connector.
- How, according to you, will MHL impact other technologies currently in the market? Do you think it can emerge as the next game changer?
When MHL released its first specification, it started with a simple idea of connecting a phone to a TV. MHL’s product ecosystem has rapidly grown and the use cases continue to expand, making MHL the world’s most widely adopted mobile TV-out standard and the de-facto connectivity between mobile and consumer electronics products.
MHL has also achieved broader adoption in areas such as India where smartphone shipments are rapidly accelerating. In these markets, consumers want more out of their smartphones – taking them beyond communication devices and transforming them into gaming consoles, powerful PCs and entertainment systems. The ability to connect a smartphone or tablet to the big screen to display photos and videos, play games or use productivity applications is a compelling value proposition, which continues to expand the adoption of MHL in emerging markets.
Here are some examples:
Mobile Games – Zero Lag
Play mobile games on a TV or monitor with no lag, while the TV provides power to the smartphone or tablet for extended game play. With MHL, experience the fun of a game console through a mobile device.
Office – Work Anytime, Anywhere
Transform a smartphone into a PC by connecting it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor to work anytime, anywhere. With MHL, writing emails, browsing the web and creating presentations are easy.
Home Theatre – 4K Cinema- Quality
Watch and share 4K cinema-quality TV shows and movies from a smartphone or tablet to a TV or home theatre system. Stop, rewind, pause and play the content using the TV’s remote control.
- How is it expected to change the mobile experience?
MHL technology is optimized for mobile and sends uncompressed, Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video and up to 8 channels of surround sound audio from an MHL smartphone or tablet to any TV, monitor or display, all while charging the device. Once connected, consumers can use the TV’s remote control to navigate apps, games, music and photos. With MHL, smartphones and tablets can be transformed into game consoles, home entertainment systems, PCs and more.
- Where can consumers buy MHL cables from?
MHL cables and adapters are available online on various e-commerce sites such as amazon.in, flipkart.com, shopclues.com and many more. On the retail side, Sony stores stock MHL cables, Samsung stores stock MHL-to-HDMI adapters, and many multi-brand outlets stock MHL accessories. The price of the cables and adapters is at the discretion of manufacturer and retailer.
- Do you think there is the need for another connectivity standard? Would it not confuse consumers who already cannot really fathom things like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi direct?
Yes, absolutely because Bluetooth addresses wireless audio/HID and Wi-Fi is primarily a wireless data interface. Although there have been implementations of video over Wi-Fi, the technology is not robust with poor video quality, which has led to disappointed consumers. This is why we see growth in MHL adoption from mobile, CE, and automotive OEMs because it provides a guaranteed/best-in-class experience to consumers.
MHL technology is optimized for mobile and it allows you to send uncompressed UHD video and up to 8 channels of surround sound from your MHL smartphone or tablet to any digital TV or display, all while charging your device. Once connected, you can use the TV’s remote control to navigate all your favourite apps, games, music and photos. MHL technology is aimed at simplifying people’s lives. Also, the success of the MHL specification is due in part to it being a connector agnostic specification, which seamlessly delivers audio, video, data, and power over a single connector. The specification enables companies to leverage popular connectors already present on many mobile devices and displays, including Micro-USB and HDMI® Type A, while also supporting proprietary connectors.
- Would you please point out your R&D work?
Being a leading provider of connectivity solutions, Silicon Image as a company strongly believes in constant innovation. Our R&D centre in Hyderabad, which was opened in January 2012, focuses on design and development of semiconductors and Intellectual property (IP) core technologies for implementation in mobile, wireless and consumer electronics products.