Upgrade path for HDCP?
Video cards are the only components in a PC that have gone up in price over time. Yet manufacturers are trying to sell video cards that don’t support HDCP? The technology has been around for years. Microsoft made it public in March 2005
that HDCP would be required for Windows Vista and reiterated it again in April 2005
– certainly the video card manufacturers were given this info before the public were. Moreover, what about companies who are already paying the $15,000 annual company fee because they produce HDCP-compliant products for televisions?
Despite my discovery that HDCP licensing is fairly cheap, I’m still trying to find an answer. There must be a silver lining somewhere. Maybe, just maybe, existing cards can be retrofitted for HDCP support. Maybe it’s simply a matter of a BIOS flash where each board gets its own serial number. If that were true, the worse case scenario would be that customers would pay a few bucks for the HDCP license.
Turns out that this was also wishful thinking.
An ATI representative said: “People will not be able to turn on HDCP through a software patch since the HDCP keys need to be present during the manufacturing. We are rolling out HDCP through OEMs at this time but we have not finalized our retail plans yet.”
As I pressed for more information about potential retail plans (i.e. trade-in programs, whether existing boards already have traces for the HDCP hardware where it can be plugged in), I got only a vague response:
“We cannot get into more detail at this time, as any further discussion would get into our trade secrets. However, we do promise to give you a full update on our retail plans once they are finalized.”
I’m not going to speculate on whether ATI’s reticence is because they’re trying to downplay a big fiasco, or if they’re trying to keep their super generous solution secret to throw off the competition. There’s actually no way to know.
Well, what about NVIDIA? They were actually very direct: “The boards themselves must be designed with an extra chip when the board is manufactured. The extra chip stores a crypto key, and you cannot retrofit an existing board after the board is produced.”
Wow. You can pick your favorite expletive.