Lattice Semiconductor Combines SuperMHL with USB 3.1 Type-C

MHL Connector (top), USB 3.1 Type-C (bottom), Lattice Semiconductor Chipsets (not to scale)
MHL Connector (top), USB 3.1 Type-C (bottom), Lattice Semiconductor Chipsets (not to scale). Images provided by the MHL Consortium and Lattice Semiconductor

MHL Connectivity

MHL connectivity is becoming more common in the mobile and home entertainment landscape, with integration into smartphones and tablets, as well as some TVs, home theater receivers, and in few cases, Blu-ray disc players, for easier sharing of audio and video content between the two environments.

Also, with the recent announcement that MHL compatibility was expanding into the USB environment ( specfically USB 3.1 Type C), another way to access and share content is now available. For an overview of how standard MHL connectivity integrates with USB 3.1 Type C, read my reference article: MHL-Compatibility Expands to USB.

SuperMHL and USB 3.1 Type C Integration

Now, another step in that MHL/USB 3.1 Type C integration process is coming to fruition as Lattice Semiconductor and the MHL Consortium are incorporating some of the capabilities of SuperMHL within the USB 3.1 Type C landscape.

As a result of being able to combine SuperMHL and USB 3.1 Type-C inter-connectivity, some of the capabilities of SuperMHL can be shared across both platforms, including:

- 4K/60Hz 4:4:4 color encoded video signals over a single connection lane (In other words, in terms of physical connectivity, the 4K signal only uses a portion of the connection pins available both the SuperMHL and USB 3.1 Type C connectors).

- Support for object-based and hi-res audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Also, an Audio only mode is available when video does not need to be transferred or displayed.

- HDCP 2.2 support for secure copy-protection.

- In a PC environment, support is provided for both video (and supporting audio) and high-speed USB 3.1 data transfer, either separately or simultaneously.

The Lattice Semiconductor Solution

To provide vehicles for these features Lattice Semiconductor has announced two chipsets, the SiI8630 and SiI9396.

The SiI8630 is a transmitting chip that can be incorporated into source devices, such Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other appropriate sources devices.

The SiI9396 is a receiving chip that can be incorporated into MHL-to-HDMI docking stations, connection adapters, or directly into HDMI-equipped display devices, such as PC monitors, TVs, or video projectors.

The SiI8630 and SiI9396 chipsets definitely up the game as far as providing inter-connectivity infrastructure between the Mobile, PC, and home theater environments. 4K video can be easily transferred from a Super-MHL connected mobile device to A PC or TV/Video projector, expanding 4K content access from a wider array of sources. Also, keep in mind that although these chips are designed to meet the demands of 4K, lower resolution video signals are also compatible.

It is also important to note that the SuperMHL connection platform (exclusive of its USB 3.1 Type-C capabilities) also has the additional ability to transfer up to 8K resolution video, and, as result, Lattice Semiconductor offers a chipset that supports that function.

Although 8K is not addressed with reference to the SiI8630 and SiI9396 chipsets, it will be interesting if SuperMHL's 8K capabilities will be able to be combined with the USB 3.1 Type-C connection platform at some point.

Be on the look out as both SuperMHL and USB 3.1 Type-C connectivity becomes available on portable, PC, home theater, and connection accessory devices. There is definitely more to come from both MHL and Lattice stay tuned for more details as they become available....