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What is UDI?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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Unified Display Interface (UDI) is one of the newest standards for monitor and video card interfaces, intended to replace both VGA (Visual Graphics Array) and DVI (Digital Video Interface). Some industry leaders predicted UDI would be the last needed video standard for some time, allowing the public to settle on a technology without concern of it becoming outmoded anytime soon. As it happens, DisplayPort is a competing standard with growing industry support.

A combination of key features sets UDI apart from DVI, namely its compatibility with High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). HDMI is used on high-end televisions and home entertainment equipment such as receivers and DVD players. Unlike DVI, UDI can deliver the higher resolutions necessary for HDMI, and it also carries audio in addition to video signals.

UDI also supports the copyright protection scheme built into HDMI known as High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). HDCP essentially ensures that transmitted content remains unchanged between the transmission point and receiving point. It also prevents “hijacking” or “stealing the airwaves” as the signals are encrypted en-route. A UDI monitor will not display protected content unless the device has been authorized through the protection scheme.

Physically, the UDI interface is trimmer and lighter than previous standards, making it well suited for notebooks, camcorders, and other portable digital equipment. It is also less expensive to manufacture, therefore expected to bring down the price of flat-panel monitors.

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Interoperability between varied components has increased the demand for a flexible video interface, capable of robust performance. The electronics industry noted a need for a HDMI-compatible standard that would afford consumers true digital compatibility. UDI will allow consumers to easily connect PCs to televisions to burn DVDs, record programs to hard disk, and perform other various tasks. UDI will also marry high-end digital equipment to high-definition TV (HDTV).

UDI bridges the resolution and copyright protection gap that previously caused a divide between the PC and home entertainment centers. It was designed by the Special Interest Group (SIG), a cooperative effort of major manufacturers including among others, Silicon Image Inc., Samsung Electronics, Apple, Intel, nVidia, and LG Electronics. The UDI standard 1.0a was finalized in June 2006.

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