Lattice simplifies audio connectivity on voyage of self-discovery

Self-configuring, self-discovering and with fully automatic HDMI audio link, the SiI9437 and SiI9438, are the first HDMI 2.1 enhanced audio return channel (eARC) audio receiver and transmitter devices, claims Lattice Semiconductor.

Available today, eARC technology was developed by the HDMI Forum, an organization of over 80 leading consumer electronics companies. It future-proofs and significantly improves home theatre connectivity, says Lattice. This simple and trouble-free audio feature is included in the recently announced HDMI 2.1 Specification.

Lattice is a founder, contributor, and adopter of the HDMI specification, and believes it leads the market with the release of HDMI 2.1 products supporting eARC technology.  eARC makes the audio device work seamlessly with a TV. The device selection and volume control are performed by the TV remote, as if no audio device is attached.

eARC uses two pins within the HDMI cable – the same pins intended for the HDMI Ethernet channel feature – to transmit the low-jitter, high-bandwidth audio, and also bi-directional communication signals, which discover and control the audio feature. According to Lattice, this is a great improvement over the old TOSLINK and SPDIF audio outputs, which require a separate cable and connector, and lack the ability to communicate between the audio device and TV.

“DTS (now Xperi) was happy to collaborate with Lattice to develop eARC technology because it solves important, long-term compatibility problems in home theatres,” says Joanna Skrdlant, general manager, Home Audio & Solutions Licensing at Xperi. “We believe that the new features coming to consumers with eARC will enhance the home theatre experience. Audio content can now move freely through listeners’ connected TVs, while preserving the incredible experience of DTS:X immersive audio and DTS-HD surround audio found in Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, Blu-ray discs and streaming services worldwide.”

Marshall Goldberg, marketing manager, Lattice continues: “HDMI’s purpose is to deliver two promises to the consumer—provide the highest possible digital audio and video quality, and make it simple through automatic configuration. eARC technology is a tremendous step in home theatre connectivity, as it brings vastly higher audio quality than TOSLINK or SPDIF, without the complexity of switching through an AVR device. In addition, its all-new discovery method also guarantees compatibility when products from different manufacturers are connected in a home theatre system.”

The SiI9437 and SiI9438 eARC ICs are available for both TVs and audio devices and are compatible with existing HDMI transmitter or receiver ICs using any version of HDMI. Both support HDMI 2.1 eARC and HDMI 1.4 legacy ARC modes with automatic ARC fallback. eARC control channel functions are supported via an I2C interface. They also ssupport eARC Data Channel, including lip sync, discovery, heartbeat, status and capabilities

The SiI9437 and SiI9438 eARC ICs are available in a 4.0 x 4.0mm FN package, with 0.4mm pin pitch.


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