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DVI - The Digital Video Interface
USB - Questions & Answers
DVI - The Digital Video Interface HEADING_TITLE
Introduction
DVI stands for Digital Video Interface, and is a digital standard for connecting monitors, projectors, etc. to their digital video source. There are three types of DVI cables: digital-only, analog-only, and combined (both digital and analog). These are denoted by the terms DVI-D, DVI-A, and DVI-I respectively.
 
Single Link and Dual Link
DVI cables are further divided into "Single Link" and "Dual Link". Single Link has a maximum display resolution 1920x1080, whereas Dual Link permits 2048x1536. DVI cables manufactured to the Dual Link standard achieve this by having more wires in the cable. These extra wires permit data to be transferred faster, thus higher resolutions are possible. Alternatively, there is the option of driving two separate displays. Please note that these advantages can only be implemented with a video source and display device that both support the Dual Link standard, which at the time of writing is quite rare. A Dual Link cable can be used with Single Link equipment, and tend to be of better manufacturing quality. All DVI cables and adaptors found on the CableCity.co.uk website are Dual Link standard. CableCity.co.uk can supply DVI Single Link cables to the trade, in volume, at a discounted price. 
 
Identifying the DVI variants
 
 
 
In the above diagram, your attention is drawn to a number of features. The Analogue signal is carried on the four pins surrounding the flat metal spade at the end of the connector. Hence, in the DVI-D (Digital) variant, these pins are missing. Whether a cable is Single Link or Dual Link is defined by how the digital signal is connected and carried, hence in the DVI-A (Analogue) variant, there is no distinction between Single Link and Dual Link since no digital signal is carried. Many consider the DVI-A variant to now be obsolete.
 
Which cable to use, and a special note concerning adaptors
One approach is to simply match up the connectors on your devices. Whilst connectors with differing DVI variants will fit each other, when using adaptors you should take care not to rely on a digital or analogue signal being present unless you have confirmed this. For example, if you have a DVI-D (digital only) output on a video card, you might try to use an adaptor to convert it to a HD15 connector, which are universally used for (S)VGA monitors. Even though this fits together perfectly, this will not work as a (S)VGA signal is analogue and there is no analogue signal present in a DVI-D connector, which is 'digital only'. On the other hand, if the output of the video card is DVI-I (analogue and digital), then it can be expected to work!
 
Maximum cable length
Due to the high data rates, DVI cables have an overall maximum length of 5 M. If you need to drive a DVI signal over a longer distance, then you will need to convert the DVI signal so that it can be carried over a fibre-optic cable. Due to cost, this approach is typically limited to professional applications.

What's the difference netween Digital and Analog Interface?
 
DVI SVGA
Advantages
  • Signal losses on cable do not affect picture quality - it works or it doesn't
  • Geometry, clock and phase settings unnecessary - therefore simple to use
  • Lower costs as less electronic circuitry required
Disadvantages
  • Currently three standards (P & D (M1DA), DFP, and DVI)
  • Low availability of models with digital interfaces
  • Requires DVI graphics card
Advantages
  • SVGA video installed in virtually every PC
  • Not necessary to upgrade video card
Disadvantages
  • Clock and phase of the TFTs must be synchronized with the analog signal to avoid pixel jitter, which is a relatively complex issue
  • Cables sensitive to electrical interference
  • High cost of signal conversion inside the display
  • Cannot convert to a digital signal using a simple adaptor


How many Digital Interfaces are there?
Currently there are three digital interface standards (P & D (M1DA), DFP, and DVI) in the market. The following table is the comparison and summary of the three interface standards. According to the table, DVI will be a standard in the future. DVI not only allows high resolutions, it also enables the connection of analog devices.

 
Standard P & D (M1DA) DFP DVI
Owner VESA (Video Electronics Standards Organization) DFP Group (Digital Flat Panel Group) and later VESA DDWG (Digital Display Working Group)
Revision / Date 1.0 / Jun 06, 1997 1.0 / Feb 14, 1999 1.0 / Apr 02, 1999
Web page www.vesa.org www.dfp-group.org www.ddwg.org
Workgroup leader VESA Compaq Intel
Compatibility Own standard P & D (M1DA) compatible (adapter possible) P & D (M1DA) and DFP compatible (adapter possible)
Transfer protocol TMDS - Transmission Minimizing Differential Signaling (PanelLink) TMDS (PanelLink) TMDS (PanelLink)
Max. Pixel rate (Dot Clock) 165 MHz x 1 165 MHz x 1 165 MHz x 1
Max. number of channels 3 channels (single link) 3 channels (single link) 6 channels (dual link)
Color depths 12 or 24 bit 12 or 24 bit 12 or 24 bit
Max. Resolution SXGA (1280 x 1024) SXGA (1280 x 1024) HDTV (1920 x 1080)
Optional transfer of other signals possible using the same connector Analog VESA video, USB, IEEE 1394-1995 No, only digital video Analog VESA video
Digital Connector P & D (M1DA)-D (30 pin) MDR20 (20 pin) DVI-D (24 pin)
Analog/Digital combination connector P & D (M1DA)-a/d (30+4 pin) No DVI-I (24 + 4 pin)
Connector width 40.6 mm 33.4 mm 37.0 mm

The above information is presented as a discussion of the technology involved. No part of this document should be taken as describing or extending the specifications of individual products offered by CableCity.co.uk. For the latest published product information, please see the corresponding CableCity.co.uk product page. In case of query, please use the 'Contact' facility to ask for clarification. No part of this publication is to be reproduced or stored for commercial use. Linking to this web page is invited, and if such links are in a news or educational context then no further permission is required. All rights (including prohibition of commercial use) are reserved.

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