This white paper was used by permission from Commercial Integrator:

Perhaps the most commonly desired quality when investing in or upgrading an A/V system is the ability of the installation to be “future proof’. Future proof projects, if they existed, would anticipate new developments in technology and market direction. This would minimise negative consequences while simultaneously capitalising on fresh opportunities. Of course it is impossible for anyone to completely and accurately predict the future.

In this paper we will analyse past and current industry and market trends in order to identify with confidence, those topologies and systems that are most likely to be of critical concern in commercial and consumer A/V system design and installation from now through 2018. In doing this we aren’t predicting the future so much as we are identifying current trends and market forces and illuminating the most likely market outcomes. We will focus on the five technologies likely to show the greatest market growth and/or market impact on general A/V integration.


In the paper Putting Analogue Sunset in Perspective we explored the trend of an essentially global transition from analogue to digital content and connectivity in A/V systems. We came to the conclusion that Bus Low Voltage Differential Signalling (BLVDS) and Multipoint Low Voltage Differential Signaling (M-LVDS) will likely be phased out of use, taking the ubiquitous analogue Video Graphics Array (VGA) connection (DE 15 connector) with it. General industry opinion is in agreement with this conclusion, with many analysts noting that both analogue VGA and digital DVI-D connectivity will be essentially discontinued and irrelevant to the industry by 2017.

Analogue VGA connectivity has been a staple of PC hardware since its introduction more than a quarter century ago. Originally developed as an evolutionary step in IBM’s line of Monochrome Display Adapter (MDA) and Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA) technology, the Video Graphics Array became an industry standard because of its inclusion in the Very Large Scale Integrated Circuits (VLSI) built into the motherboard of the original PS2 series of IBM personal computers.

On 8 December 2010 a joint press release from AMD, Dell, Intel Corporation, Lenovo, Samsung Electronics LCD Business and LG Display announced: “intentions to accelerate adoption of scalable and lower power digital interfaces such as DisplayPort and High Definition Multimedia Interface® (HDMI) into the PC.’ The press release went on to say that Intel plans to “end its support for VGA by 2015.’ Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) announced it would phase out support for DVI by 2015. [5] Since VGA and DVI have been the dominant video connections in PC and A/V applications for so long, the question became “what will replace them?’

Changing a worldwide video connection standard doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Each change will have effects that ripple through the industry, inspiring new and even more powerful changes as device connectivity is adapted to real world applications. Tying this technological evolution together is the requirement for universal inclusion of High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). There are now over 500 companies licensing HDCP technology, which is a specification developed by Intel Corporation to protect digital content from illicit use as it is transported across various digital interfaces. [7] In the digital world there are no copies, there are clones. The need to protect intellectual property rights and ensure the desired distribution and use of content, has spurred HDCP technology to become a critical component of every major system in the A/V ecosphere.

As it turns out, the replacements for VGA, DVI-D and other analogue video connections aren’t hard to identify. HDMI has grown to dominate in both consumer and commercial A/V connectivity since its introduction in 2003. DisplayPort was introduced in 2006 specifically as a replacement for analogue VGA connections. [6] With the market shift favoring smaller, lighter, more efficient digital devices, the newly updated DisplayPort Multi-Mode (DisplayPort 1.2, typically marked as DP++) connection has become the de facto standard for accessing A/V content from desktop and laptop computers, ultrabooks, tablets and netbooks. The DisplayPort Mini connection is also at the heart of the next generation Thunderbolt connection.
HDMI and DisplayPort connections aren’t optimised for mobile devices, structured wiring or wireless connectivity, so equivalent and compatible new formats have emerged for those applications. Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) and its closely related cousin SlimPort (also known as MyDP), offer wired solutions for integrating mobile devices such as tablets, phablets and smartphones into fixed A/V systems. Miracast provides a point-to-point wireless connection between the same classes of device.

We believe these are the five technologies that will have the greatest transformative impact on the business of A/V integration in the period from 2013 through 2018.

Let’s examine each in a little more detail.


DisplayPort is a digital display interface standard developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) designed to facilitate the transfer of video, audio and data, between a source and sink device. DisplayPort 1.2 is capable of emitting HDMI or DVI-D TMDS signals through the use of a simple passive converter. DisplayPort has been HDCP compliant since the DP1.1 standard.

The DisplayPort 1.2a standard was released in January of 2013 and includes support for Multi-Stream Transport (MST), Ultra HD resolutions and many more performance enhancements.

DisplayPort is replacing VGA connectivity on most computers because of its rich feature set, its compatibility with CMOS fabrication techniques and its compatibility with HDMI and HDCP technologies. DisplayPort was included in about 1-in-20 desktops and 1-in-50 laptops as of 2009. DisplayPort use is expected to be included in 19-of-20, or 95%, of all computers by 2014 as the industry continues to phase out LVDS. Much of this exponential growth in DisplayPort++ deployment is expected to occur in 2014 and 2015.

While the three major vendors of central and graphics processing units—Intel Corp., AMD Inc. and nVidia—have moved to integrate DisplayPort into their current products, this doesn’t signal a competition between DisplayPort and HDMI as A/V connectivity standards. Both interfaces will serve distinct markets.

The DisplayPort standard defines an HDMI “compatibility mode,’ identified by the DP++ logo that allows devices so equipped to seamlessly switch to an HDMI output format when a passive adapter is connected. This ensures that computers and devices leveraging a DisplayPort connection remain compatible with the very large installed base of HDMI-enabled devices.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) analysis, DisplayPort market penetration will experience a compounded annual growth rate of 106% between 2009 and 2014. The firm, “Research and Markets’ stated in its “Global HDMI and DisplayPort-enabled Equipment Market 2012-2016’ report that DisplayPort Multi-Mode market penetration would grow at a combined annualised growth rate (CAGR) of 31.6% over the four year period covered by the report. DisplayPort is quickly becoming a key technology of the A/V market, with no end to its growth in sight.


HDMI LLC was founded by Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Technicolor S.A, RCA, Toshiba and Panasonic in 2002. Their goal was to create a connector for digital A/V devices that featured a small form factor and was capable of transporting uncompressed digital video, multi-channel digital audio and control signals while maintaining backwards compatibility with the existing DVI-D standard. HDMI-enabled devices emerged into the market in 2003.

HDMI is based upon, and includes compatibility with DVI-D functionality in its operational specifications. No active signal conversion is needed to allow an HDMI-enabled device to connect with a DVI-D single link-enabled device. Simple, passive adapter cables are all that’s necessary, but the functionality of such a connection is limited to the lesser feature set included in the Digital Visual Interface standard.
On September 4, 2013, HDMI LLC released the much anticipated HDMI 2.0 standard. HDMI 2.0 is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI specification, but addresses several parameters that provide increased performance and functionality. Specifically, the HDMI 2.0 standard includes the following:

• 4K@50/60, (2160p), which provides compatibility with emerging Ultra HD and D4K video performance levels.

• Up to 32 embedded audio channels for immersive audio reproduction.

• Up to a nearly unprecedented 1536kHz audio sampling frequency, for the highest audio fidelity available in a playback format.

• Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen.

• Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (up to four).

• Support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio, which offers a 30% wider field of view.

• Dynamic synchronisation of video and audio streams.

In the decade since its introduction, the HDMI Specification has been licensed by more than 1 300 HDMI Adopters who have gone on to manufacture over 3 billion HDMI-enabled products. Despite this immense market penetration, the global HDMI-enabled equipment market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 19.7% over the period of 2012 to 2016. This growth will be driven by the near universal inclusion of HDMI connectivity in flat panel displays and video projectors. [16] Certainly HDMI technology will continue to be a driving force in the A/V market.


Mobile High Definition Link (MHL) is an HD video and digital audio interface for connecting mobile phones and portable devices to HDTVs and other display devices. The MHL standard was created by the MHL consortium, an industry group comprised of Nokia Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Silicon Image Inc., Sony Corporation and Toshiba Corporation. The standard was released in June of 2010 with products first reaching the market in May of 2011. MHL currently has more than 200 adopters and the MHL ecosystem has grown to an installed base of more than 260 million products.

MHL is, essentially, a technology that adapts a micro USB connection on a mobile device to an HDMI jack. An HDMI cable is then used to connect the dongle to a display. It is most emphatically not an HDMI signal, however. MHL is a 5-pin or 11-pin topology that requires an MHL-enabled display device to function. Since the HDMI connection is ubiquitous, it is only logical that it was chosen as a convenient physical layer connection. Many new flat panel displays and Android smartphones are including MHL technology. Today, MHL capability is included in more than 330 million devices.

In August 2013, the MHL Consortium released the MHL 3.0 specification. The new standard supports Ultra HD (D4K) resolution, deep colour, up to eight channels of digital audio, and support of peripherals including mass storage, keyboard, mouse and touch screen devices. Many industry analysts project that MHL technology will continue to grow at nearly unprecedented rates, reaching an installed base of more than 1.5 billion products worldwide over the next five years. MHL is positioned to be a global solution for connecting mobile devices to fixed A/V assets.