The HDMI Repeater Issues

One day I got the silly idea to build a theater in my basement, I documented the process here. In doing so however, I was exposed to the reality that although our PC technology is quite well suited for home theater use, much of it is remarkably broken in that sense.

At launch, G45 was the epitome of the broken HTPC space. Hardware decode acceleration didn't work right, there were HDCP issues on various displays and something called HDMI repeater support was broken.

The HDCP spec was created to be flexible for use in both PC and consumer electronics devices, as such there's support for three types of devices: source, sink and repeater. The source in a HDCP chain is the, well, source - it's what is originally outputting the content. The source could be your PC or a Blu-ray player among other things. The sink is the final device in the chain, its only purpose is to decrypt the HDCP signal and display the final output; an example of a sink is your monitor or a TV. The third type of device is a repeater and what it does is accepts an incoming HDCP signal, decrypts it, optionally adds additional data or processing to the signal then re-encrypts it and passes it along.

The best example of a repeater is a HDMI receiver. Many high end HDMI receivers will take any input and upscale it to 1080p before sending it out to your display. That feature alone requires that the receiver be a repeater as it needs to decrypt the incoming signal, upscale the video, then encrypt the new signal and send it out to your display. Any audio processing done to the signal also requires the same decrypt, process, encrypt path.

As far as I can tell, implementing support for repeaters in both the HDMI and HDCP specs is fairly trivial. There's a single bit that indicates support and the whole chain should just work, however at G45's launch the chipset didn't support HDMI/HDCP repeaters. And today, despite many driver and software revisions - support is still broken.

The initial incompatibilities were actually due to the software player vendors, mainly Corel and Cyberlink. Without repeater support, my G45 testbed would not propagate HDCP and thus I'd get this error from PowerDVD:

The repeater in this case was an Integra DTC-9.8 pre-processor. I used the latest version of Arcsoft's Total Media Theater to see if perhaps this was a Cyberlink issue and although Arcsoft didn't throw an error, I couldn't get the player to actually play any encrypted content when my Integra was in the HDMI chain.

Gary tried the Denon AVR-3808 and got the same error: HDCP failed until a firmware update from Denon although the unit worked fine with competing solutions. His situation was slightly different with the Pioneer VSX-94TXH as it worked properly (finally) after the latest updates from ArcSoft and Corel. However, Cyberlink's PowerDVD 8 Ultra still does not have G45 repeater support at this time.

Intel is apparently still getting down to the root of the HDMI repeater issue with G45, but one thing is for sure: it doesn't exist on our 780G or GeForce 8200 based test beds. Even the add-in Radeon HD 4800 or 4600 series cards don't have this problem. If you don't have an AV receiver then the flaky repeater support won't matter, but home theater aficionados beware.

Blu-ray Playback: Integrated Graphics Matters Again The Boards: ASUS P5Q-EM
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  • Olyros - Sunday, February 8, 2009 - link

    I noticed there's a mention in the article about searching for the perfect mini-itx case. The Nexus Psile case that I'm using for my Intel "DG45FC"-based computer is perfect for it I think. Especially if you are after stylish and quiet computers.
    Here are a couple of links for you to check it out if you want:
    www.psile.com
    http://www.3dgameman.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4...">http://www.3dgameman.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4...
    Reply
  • lubama - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Quote from "Intel's G45 Motherboard round up

    "However, at various times after the system has gone to sleep it will wake back up without intervention for a few seconds and then shuts down. Sometimes this a few minutes after entering sleep mode, other times it occurred an hour or so later. The board requires a full power cycle to come back to life and does not always resume to Vista, instead we receive the error that Vista has been incurred an error after entering the OS."

    Have you found a solution to this problem, seems like you are the only person, other than me, who is catching this issue. I have posted in numerous DG45ID forums and this exact issue is non-existent and haven't received any answers.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Sunday, October 12, 2008 - link

    Anand, G965/G35/GM965 has 8 EUs(Execution Units), but each of the EUs contain 2 cores, meaning it has 16 cores. Each cores can also process 2 threads, meaning it has a maximum of 32 thread capability. From that, its not comparable to Nvidia, nor ATI so Intel have their own performance metric.

    For G45, I assume its 10 EUs, 20 cores. Intel papers mention 50 threads.
    Reply
  • puddnhead - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - link

    I second (thrid? fourth? fifth? 9th?) the call for the part 2 (what it's pretty obvious everyone is more interested in anyway, not this article).

    I wonder if you coudl at least give us an ETA of not the article itself? You know, if it's this week, this month, or ??? Thta doesn't seem too much to ask, I'm surprised you don't give that from the start.
    Reply
  • computerfarmer - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    Looking forward to part_2.

    I hope they are sooner than the promised reviews from these articles.

    AMD SB750 arrives on the Foxconn A79A-S...
    Date: July 21st, 2008
    Author: Gary Key
    http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=47...">http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=47...

    AMD's SB750: Enabling Higher Phenom Overclocks?
    Date: July 23rd, 2008
    Topic: CPU & Chipset
    Manufacturer: AMD
    Author: Gary Key
    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...

    AMD 790GX - The Introduction
    Date: August 6th, 2008
    Topic: CPU & Chipset
    Manufacturer: AMD
    Author: Gary Key
    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...
    Reply
  • computerfarmer - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    When is PART_2 coming out? Reply
  • duploxxx - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    Lots of talk of bringing a great roundup of chipsets...already for a few weeks now.

    Where does anand start? at the least interesting and the most garbage chipset for several years now.

    lets hope your global review is as good as people expect it to be.
    you started off already a bit better then you did in recent gpu reviews, you actually took a cpu that was rather common to be used, although a e7200 or Q8200 would be a much better fit for this kind of boards.

    Reply
  • whosthere - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I didn't see any specifics on the Game Settings. Could you please post them...
    Thanks
    Reply
  • dutchroll - Monday, September 29, 2008 - link

    Yeah I was thinking much the same thing about the "fanboi" comments.

    Can they spell "hypocrite"? It really betrays your allegiance when you rant at Intel then go all wobbly and weak at the knees while mentioning AMD. AT are damned if they do, damned if they don't as far as reviewing either brand's offerings. They've already stated how good the 780G was. They've stated what bugs are in the G45. So what the heck is the problem?
    Reply
  • piesquared - Wednesday, October 1, 2008 - link

    The problem is, they promised a SB750 review 2 months ago. The problem is they promised a DFI LP JR. review 1 month ago. The problem is they go well out of there way to avoid any comparison of Intel's ITD, and AMD's IGP. So what if they obscure and bury a line inside an Intel article that gives credit to AMD hardware. They fail to give credit where credit is due, and it is glaringly obvious. And it's even more obvious when this article pops up suddently when Intel has a new driver. They were waiting on Intel's promises of a new driver that would improve performance, and show it's hardware in a better light. Doesn't matter if you crap in a plastic or paper bag, it's still a bag of shit though. I'll make a wager that none of the upcomming "promised" reviews will have any side by side comparisons of Intel's IDT, to any other IGP. Unless of course AT stalls long enough to allow Intle more time to produce yet another driver..... Reply

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