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Unsurprisingly Silicon Image was on hand at IDF to help Intel evangelise about UDI. Despite the fact that Intel is pushing UDI as the future display connector for the PC, Silicon Image maintains that we will see HDMI equipped PC equipment before UDI really takes off. To add weight to this argument, there was an HDMI equipped TV tuner on show at the Silicon Image stand.

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I had a long chat with one of the guys from Silicon Image, who confirmed my initial thoughts regarding the creation of UDI – the new interface won’t require the hefty licence fee of HDMI, or the ongoing royalty commitment. Like me, you might be wondering why we need UDI when we already have DVI. According to Silicon Image one of the problems with DVI is size, especially for notebooks. Now, I have seen several notebooks with DVI ports, but to be fair they’re rarely thin and light machines. Take the notebook I’m using right now – the Sony TX2XP – this is a slim and lightweight ultra-portable machine, and I can’t see any way that Sony could squeeze a DVI port into this chassis.

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Of course with Intel behind UDI there’s little doubt that it will become the new standard for PCs over time. Let’s face it, if every motherboard and notebook with Intel integrated graphics sports UDI, it won’t be long before the install base becomes massive. Despite this, we’re already seeing graphics cards appear with native HDMI, including HDCP support, like the Sapphire X1600 Pro.

Silicon Image was also showing off its new eSATA controller. The Sil 3531 was on show as an x1 PCI Express card, but it can obviously be integrated onto a motherboard or even into a consumer electronics device.

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Silicon Image thinks that external SATA devices will take over from the current crop of USB and FireWire devices. With the same data transfer speed as internal SATA drives, eSATA will make it very easy for consumers to augment their storage without ever having to open their computer.

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Silicon Image feels that this new controller will enable consumers to not only upgrade PCs, but also attach storage to devices like set top boxes or even PVRs. Just imagine being able to attach another 400GB to your Sky+ box without ever having to open it up? Of course this versatility depends on whether consumer electronics companies decide to integrate a controller like the Sil 3531 into future devices, but I definitely hope that they do.

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