Silicon Image Meets 8K Challenge With AV Processing Chip

Silicon Image MHL Moves 8K TV Forward

Silicon Image/Lattice Semiconductor Sil9779 Chip with MHL Cable and Connector. Images provided by the MHL Consortium

While 4K Ultra HD continues to settle in the consumer market (TVs, Streaming, and Ultra HD Blu-ray is on the way), progress is not stopping there. HDR (high dynamic range) TV has come to market, and 8K is on the way.

For some perspective, 8K resolution is represented by a 7860x4320 pixel field, which is the equivalent of 33.2 megapixels, or 16x the resolution of 1080p (8K is 4320p).

However, 8K is still a ways off for consumers. Silicon Image (which is now a part of Lattice Semiconductor) introduced its first 8K AV processing chipset, the Sil9779 for use in any forthcoming 8K TV, but it will be some time before you can head down do your local dealer and purchase one, and further infrastructure needs to be laid down so that manufacturers and content providers have the tools they need to bring over-the-top hi-res to consumers. We're just beginning to have a decent selection of available 4K content.

Processing Capabilities of the Sil9779

The heart of the Sil9779 is its audio/video pass-through and processing capabilities, which include:

  • Compatibility with incoming 8K/60Hz video signals capable of providing 8K upscaling for lower res input signals.
  • HDR, such as Dolby Vision, Deep Color, BT.2020 (also referred to as Rec.2020) color space compatible.
  • Support for advanced immersive surround sound audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Also, support is provided for high bitrate (HiRez) audio only formats and an audio-only mode is available when the video does not need to be displayed. Audio capabilities of the Sil9779 would allow the chipset to be used in home theater receivers and AV preamp processors.

Connectivity Options of the Sil9779

In addition to the processing capabilities of the Sil9779, it also provides an interesting complement of connections, which include the following:

  • One superMHL input/output set that supports 8K/60Hz video signals for forthcoming 8K-enabled set-top boxes and TV, as well as providing connection compatibility with any current or MHL or USB Type-C enabled source devices, such as Smartphones and Tablets.
  • Three HDMI 2.0 inputs for connection of any HDMI-enabled source device (resolutions up to 4K/60Hz).
  • HDCP 2.2 support included.

For those of you who think that Silicon Image/Lattice Semiconductor and the MHL Consortium are jumping the gun on 8K too soon, keep in mind that Japan has been experimenting with 8K technology for TV broadcasting for several years and tested the technology further at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Japan's goal is to finalize an 8K TV broadcasting standard in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Tokyo.

However, 8K still has to demonstrate not only its desirability for the average consumer but also has to be affordable. 

Two Dual SuperMHL/HDMI 2.0 Chips

Lattice Semiconductor released two more 8K processing chips (SiI9398 and SiI9630) for inclusion in both source and display devices.

Both chips provide the same video and audio pass-through and processing capabilities as the SiL9779 discussed above, but they also provide a dual mode design which enables them to be used in both a SuperMHL and HDMI 2.0 connection environment via the use of separate ports for each type of connection requirement.

Some of the specifications include:

  • Up to 8K resolution at 60fps with 12-bit color
  • 18Gbps transfer rate
  • HDR capability
  • Compatibility with all audio formats including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

The SiI9630 is a transmitter that can be placed in a compatible source device (for example a disc player, cable/satellite setup box, media streamer, game console, etc.), whereas the SiI9398 is a receiver that would be placed in a compatible display device (TV or video projector).

Both chips can work in setups that include devices utilizing the SiL9779 or the SiI9396 SuperMHL chips (read my report on the SiL9396)

For more details on the SiI9398 and SiI9630, read the official announcement from Lattice Semiconductor.