philby
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Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:06 am

I recently saw the news that NEC will be integrating a compute module into their digital signage.

Does anyone know if NEC are using the DSI or HDMI interface? I assume the HDMI interface, but is that going to potentially run into licensing problems?

The HDMI consortium puts strict controls on how HDMI can be used and, unless I am miss-reading their website, you are not allowed to use HDMI to connect between chips on the circuit board (i.e. the compute module and LVDS driver).

Below is an extract from the clarification on the HDMI.org website. http://www.hdmi.org/news_events/index.a ... rification
We have recently been approached with requests to test or certify products that use HDMI Technology in applications that are not defined by and/or licensed under the HDMI Adopter Agreement, the Specification, or supporting documents. Examples of proposed products include devices where HDMI connections exist internal to the end product, with no HDMI functionality external to the device.
In this case, using the HDMI specification to design an internal connection between subsystems is not allowed for Licensed Products.
What are people's thoughts on the legality of integrating the compute module into an LCD (assuming the HDMI interface is used)?
Last edited by philby on Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:26 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Potential HDMI licencing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:44 am

First off, NEC is a pretty big company and I have no doubt that they are an HDMI licensee. They're big enough to get the rules interpreted in a way that is favorable to what they want to do. Since the carrier board and the CM are accessible to the user, I don't see why an HDMI connection from a CM to the monitor circuits would be any different with the CM mounted inside the monitor casing than it would be if the CM and carrier board were outside. For that matter, a strict reading of what you quoted could be interpreted to bar using a CM in a carrier board as a stand alone system, and that is just plain absurd.

philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licencing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:04 am

I think a strict interpretation of what I linked to would be that the carrier board would be considered, under the HDMI licence, a "component".

You are right that you could say "oh, well the compute module is not actually soldered into the circuit board, it plugs in" which is correct, but part of the HDMI specification is strict control of what constitutes a HDMI connector from an end user point of view and providing the user a slot to connect a HDMI device would not pass testing. The whole point of the standard is "to allow manufacturers to create products that interoperate in a predictable, well defined way."

The way I read it, there are 6 classifications of a HDMI licensed product. Cable, component, connector, repeater, source or sink. A LCD with an embedded compute module would fall into none of these.

The way I read it is, If you don't fit a category then you can't license it as a HDMI product. If you can't license it as a HDMI product, then you fail to receive a license to the necessary claims, leaving you open to litigation.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:33 am

How is this in any way relevant to folks who are using the compute module in their own projects / products?

I'm sure NEC are large enough to get the rules changed if they don't meet their needs. Aren't most of these licensing groups a cartel of the largest manufacturers so that they can control the market where they sell their products?
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:56 am

Is that not similar to many of the Pi 'products' where they stick a Zero/Pi3/A+ in something and hook up to a monitor to it (laptop/magic mirror/web console/Information points/everything with a screen, all plaved in a case and using the HDMI to interconnect)
And then if they went and sold them to the public.

Or is that different?

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Paul Webster
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:12 am

Interesting discovery.

Presumably the NEC displays have an external HDMI connection - so they would pay the licence fee based on that.
The amount paid does not depend on the number of connections but on the number of items sold direct.

http://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/terms.aspx

My guess is that there would be no issue for NEC in this case - but could imagine that this could be a problem for someone else.

philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:35 am

DougieLawson wrote:How is this in any way relevant to folks who are using the compute module in their own projects / products?
I thought it was fairly common for the compute module to be used in commercial products? It's certainly the reason I'm looking at it and the road block for my project at the moment is this very issue. I'm contemplating moving to an Intel Qseven module so I can use display port to circumvent the issue, but I would really like to use the raspberry pi compute module as it is a much cheaper alternative.
DougieLawson wrote:I'm sure NEC are large enough to get the rules changed if they don't meet their needs. Aren't most of these licensing groups a cartel of the largest manufacturers so that they can control the market where they sell their products?
If NEC can get the rules changed, that's fine, but they should be playing by the same rules as the rest of us. But yes, HDMI and HDCP are just one big cartel. I look forward to a larger uptake of display port.
bensimmo wrote:Is that not similar to many of the Pi 'products' where they stick a Zero/Pi3/A+ in something and hook up to a monitor to it (laptop/magic mirror/web console/Information points/everything with a screen, all plaved in a case and using the HDMI to interconnect)
And then if they went and sold them to the public.
Under the HDMI spec they would be considered a source since there is a HDMI output in the chain somewhere for connecting to a LCD. You can look them up to see if they have actually HDMI licensed products. http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/enfo ... _tool.aspx
Paul Webster wrote:Interesting discovery.

Presumably the NEC displays have an external HDMI connection - so they would pay the licence fee based on that.
The amount paid does not depend on the number of connections but on the number of items sold direct.

http://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/terms.aspx

My guess is that there would be no issue for NEC in this case - but could imagine that this could be a problem for someone else.
That was my thought. They likely have other HDMI inputs on the device, so I was wondering if that was how they got around the rule and had it classified as a sink. But the clarification from HDMI.org that I posted is pretty clear about not using their "technology" in any way but what was approved.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:37 am

philby wrote:
DougieLawson wrote:How is this in any way relevant to folks who are using the compute module in their own projects / products?
I thought it was fairly common for the compute module to be used in commercial products? It's certainly the reason I'm looking at it and the road block for my project at the moment is this very issue. I'm contemplating moving to an Intel Qseven module so I can use display port to circumvent the issue, but I would really like to use the raspberry pi compute module as it is a much cheaper alternative.
How many compute modules are driving HDMI? Most are likely to be running headless as embedded systems.
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:49 am

DougieLawson wrote:
philby wrote:
DougieLawson wrote:How is this in any way relevant to folks who are using the compute module in their own projects / products?
I thought it was fairly common for the compute module to be used in commercial products? It's certainly the reason I'm looking at it and the road block for my project at the moment is this very issue. I'm contemplating moving to an Intel Qseven module so I can use display port to circumvent the issue, but I would really like to use the raspberry pi compute module as it is a much cheaper alternative.
How many compute modules are driving HDMI? Most are likely to be running headless as embedded systems.
I don't know, but I think there are enough compute modules out there using HDMI that it is completely relevant to ask and for us all to be aware of potential issues....

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:05 am

You can call me thick but does not the HDMi Licensing only apply to the HDMi Output of the SoC, terminating in a HDMi Port ??

Therefore the License Fee would already of been paid by Broadcom / Raspberry Pi Trading.
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philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:10 am

fruitoftheloom wrote:You can call me thick but does not the HDMi Licensing only apply to the HDMi Output of the SoC, terminating in a HDMi Port ??

Therefore the License Fee would already of been paid by Broadcom / Raspberry Pi Trading.
Royalties are paid by the last person in the manufacturing chain, but all parties along the manufacturing process need to be licensed. Parts/products also need to be submitted for testing at an approved HDMI test facility.

EDIT: or maybe I'm getting confused with HDCP. I'll have to go double check.

EDIT2: straight from the horses mouth.

“The HDMI specification is not an open standard, you must be licensed by HDMI Licensing LLC inorder to implement the HDMI standard in any product or component, whether it is for sale to consumers or other businesses. “
http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/vide ... an_adopter

“Royalty payments are only assessed on end user licensed products, and not the components or accessories that are a part of another licensed product. Some examples of end user licensed products include TV’s, set top boxes, DVD and bluray disk players, AV receivers or PC’s. Products or components that are incorporated into other licensed products, such as the semiconductors or circuit boards inside a TV are exempt from royalties as long as they are not packaged and sold as end user or standalone products. “
http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/vide ... _royalties

“Every product that claims to conform to the HDMI test specification standard or employs any of the HDMI trade marks must be tested according to these procedures.”
http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/vide ... ce_testing

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:11 pm

So what did the slice guys do? Maybe they can give us some insight?

dakiller
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:17 am

My use of the CM is a carrier board that takes the HDMI signals out of the CM pins that feed directly into a TFP401 DVI Receiver/Deserializer IC that then decodes and drives a standard 40pin LCD from that

No where do I provide a HDMI connector or mention that the product uses/has HDMI. Texas Instruments only call their IC a DVI Receiver, never mentioning HDMI either.

Is the CM output really HDMI? Or is it the DVI-D standard that just is inter-operable with HDMI in this instance?

philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 4:49 am

dakiller wrote:My use of the CM is a carrier board that takes the HDMI signals out of the CM pins that feed directly into a TFP401 DVI Receiver/Deserializer IC that then decodes and drives a standard 40pin LCD from that

No where do I provide a HDMI connector or mention that the product uses/has HDMI. Texas Instruments only call their IC a DVI Receiver, never mentioning HDMI either.
Interesting. Thanks for the info.
dakiller wrote: Is the CM output really HDMI? Or is it the DVI-D standard that just is inter-operable with HDMI in this instance?
The CM output supports CEC and I2C, which I believe are not part of DVI. The CM also uses the same SoC as the standard Pi which has a HDMI output.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:33 am

I2C is also a part of DVI-D. Only CEC is missing on DVI-D. But that is no licensing issue. As long as the carrier-board provides no HDMI-connector, there is no licensing issue. In the case of a DVI-connector or just internal connections, that are just a buch of differential signal wires. There is no licensing fee for DVI and it's signals. HDMI is based on DVI-D. The only new thing on HDMI is CEC and the connector(s).

best regards
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:56 am

Yes, circumvent the fees by fitting a DVI-D connector, as has been done on consumer set top boxes by Dream Multimedia. The user can connect to a display with an DVI-D to HDMI adapter or cable for picture plus sound.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:40 am

The HDMI license is paid for by Raspberry Pi up front.

When it comes to communicating internally you can obviously just say it's a DVI signal (there are no HDMI connectors) but that does mean you can't then claim you are an HDMI device (or use the HDMI logo).

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:34 am

gsh wrote:The HDMI license is paid for by Raspberry Pi up front.

When it comes to communicating internally you can obviously just say it's a DVI signal (there are no HDMI connectors) but that does mean you can't then claim you are an HDMI device (or use the HDMI logo).

Gordon
Isn't it a more valid statement when saying: One can populate whatever connector you want (i.e. USB, HDMI, Displayport), and will have NO licensing issues as long as one is not stating it is compliant and/or trying to use the logo?
A connector can be used for other data as well, so if you decide to use a HDMI connector for transferring some data (i.e. USB as a popular differential one, together with I2C and some control an power signals) you're free to do so since you will never claim the device is HDMI compliant.

A lot of companies are selling A/D-Boards (that's these gizmos used in Monitors etc. which 'convert' data coming from DVI/HDMI/DP etc. to the format which is 'understood' by the display module (i.e. LVDS, V-by-One, etc)) where all of them have the DisplayPort connector populated, but it's only 'working' on the DisplayPort version (the one they pay royalties for).

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:50 am

aBUGSworstnightmare wrote:
gsh wrote:The HDMI license is paid for by Raspberry Pi up front.

When it comes to communicating internally you can obviously just say it's a DVI signal (there are no HDMI connectors) but that does mean you can't then claim you are an HDMI device (or use the HDMI logo).

Gordon
Isn't it a more valid statement when saying: One can populate whatever connector you want (i.e. USB, HDMI, Displayport), and will have NO licensing issues as long as one is not stating it is compliant and/or trying to use the logo?
A connector can be used for other data as well, so if you decide to use a HDMI connector for transferring some data (i.e. USB as a popular differential one, together with I2C and some control an power signals) you're free to do so since you will never claim the device is HDMI compliant.

A lot of companies are selling A/D-Boards (that's these gizmos used in Monitors etc. which 'convert' data coming from DVI/HDMI/DP etc. to the format which is 'understood' by the display module (i.e. LVDS, V-by-One, etc)) where all of them have the DisplayPort connector populated, but it's only 'working' on the DisplayPort version (the one they pay royalties for).
As I understand it, if you use a HDMI connector, whether or not is passes HDMI signals, then you are under the same rules - the IP protects the connector AND the name.
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philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:57 am

aBUGSworstnightmare wrote: A connector can be used for other data as well, so if you decide to use a HDMI connector for transferring some data (i.e. USB as a popular differential one, together with I2C and some control an power signals) you're free to do so since you will never claim the device is HDMI compliant.
I'm fairly certain you would get nailed for using a HDMI connector for something other than HDMI. They have put a lot of time and money into creating something that "just works" for users. If you started putting HDMI connectors for USB functionality on consumer devices (i dunno why you would, just following your argument) you would be infringing on an aspect of the HDMI standard and would get nailed.
gsh wrote:The HDMI license is paid for by Raspberry Pi up front.

When it comes to communicating internally you can obviously just say it's a DVI signal (there are no HDMI connectors) but that does mean you can't then claim you are an HDMI device (or use the HDMI logo).

Gordon
Thanks Gordon. I was under the impression that the HDMI licence covered the underlying communication protocol as well as the physical connector and HDMI trade mark, but given that the DVI TMDS communication protocol is free to use and HDMI is built on top of it, it sounds like HDMI patent licence to the necessary claims doesn't encompass the actual communication protocol but is limited to the physical connector and HDMI trade mark.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:34 am

philby wrote: I'm fairly certain you would get nailed for using a HDMI connector for something other than HDMI. They have put a lot of time and money into creating something that "just works" for users. If you started putting HDMI connectors for USB functionality on consumer devices (i dunno why you would, just following your argument) you would be infringing on an aspect of the HDMI standard and would get nailed.
How do manufacturers get away with the devices that can switch to a VGA output on the HDMI connector get away with it then? You know, the ones that all those cheap HDMI to VGA cables (not convertors) are sold for.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:41 am

rpdom wrote: How do manufacturers get away with the devices that can switch to a VGA output on the HDMI connector get away with it then? You know, the ones that all those cheap HDMI to VGA cables (not convertors) are sold for.
I'm not quite sure what you are talking about. Have you got a link? Are they actually putting VGA signals on HDMI pins? I would hazard a guess that maybe they are not licenced and are at risk of legal action, or there are actually some electronics embedded in the connector.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:08 am

philby wrote:I'm not quite sure what you are talking about. Have you got a link? Are they actually putting VGA signals on HDMI pins? I would hazard a guess that maybe they are not licenced and are at risk of legal action, or there are actually some electronics embedded in the connector.
To be honest I haven't seen any device that supports this myself, but there are enough plain HDMI to VGA cables out there that trip up the unwary Pi user who wants to connect their ancient VGA monitor to the Pi. From what I've read, there are some devices that somehow put out a VGA signal on HDMI pins when they detect one of those cables in use. Perhaps they use the edid info in some way?

philby
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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:22 am

rpdom wrote: To be honest I haven't seen any device that supports this myself, but there are enough plain HDMI to VGA cables out there that trip up the unwary Pi user who wants to connect their ancient VGA monitor to the Pi. From what I've read, there are some devices that somehow put out a VGA signal on HDMI pins when they detect one of those cables in use. Perhaps they use the edid info in some way?
I think it is more a case of the Chinese will make anything regardless of if it works or not. I've never heard of any devices that support both VGA and HDMI on the same connector. DVI allowed for digital and analog video signals, but pins were not shared. There were dedicated analog pins and dedeicated digital pins. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_V ... pinout.svg

There is no allowance for analog in HDMI pinout specs.

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Re: Potential HDMI licensing issue with compute module?

Sun May 14, 2017 10:51 am

Hello,

The product I am working on requires an HDMI output.

I would like a clear response - not a subjective interpretation please.

Am I allowed to put an HDMI connector and output on my product, and to sell it, without claiming we are an HDMI device nor using the logo ?

The product is not yet industrial - we would like to sell pre-industrial versions for testers and partners.

Thank you in advance

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