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Thursday, July 14, 2011

New PlayStation 3’s Will Not Support Component Blu-Ray Output


By: Kareem 

The latest news about the web is Sony’s announcement that they will no longer support Blu Ray playback on their next generation PS3’s (version K). Apparently the restriction is to enforce copy-protected playback on the console.

What that means is that if your T.V or receiver dosen’t support HDMI, or if you already have all your HDMI ports occupied and you buy a version K PS3 your pretty much boned if you planned on using it to watch Blu Ray’s. If you can fandangle PS3 version A-J however, you’ll be fine going through component. To make matters $5-$10 worse they’re not even including the HDMI cable with the console. Just the standard A/V cables that come with it (which do include the component cables, so at least you can game and stream movies in HD). 

It’s not really too big a deal since most HDTV’s have HDMI inputs so eh really much else to report on that. If your curious however, read on and we shall find out the who, what, where’s and why’s.

So why is Sony doing this? According to them it’s to enforce AACS standards…if your like me you have no idea what the hell AACS is so lets learn together. This is from good old Wikipedia:

The Advanced Access Content System (AACS) is a standard for content distribution and digital rights management, intended to restrict access to and copying of the "next generation" of optical discs and DVDs. The specification was publicly released in April 2005 and the standard has been adopted as the access restriction scheme for HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD). It is developed by AACS Licensing Administrator, LLC (AACS LA), a consortium that includes Disney, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Warner Bros., IBM, Toshiba and Sony. AACS has been operating under an "interim agreement" since the final specification (including provisions for Managed Copy) has not yet been finalized.

Since appearing in devices in 2006, several AACS decryption keys have been extracted from weakly protected software players and published on the Internet, allowing decryption by other unlicensed software.

…still with me?

Ok so AACS is pretty much just a way for Blu-Ray publishers and distributers to protect their content. I’m not exactly pro IP or hardcore anti IP I’m kind of in the middle there. I think there’s room for both closed and open formats in todays world. They both have pros and cons, to each his own I say. More options=more freedom…somewhat. Anyway this got me thinking, why is it AACS depends on HDMI and can’t use component.

So why is AACS dependent on HDMI? Well after a little research I dug up this, again from Wikipedia:

High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a form of digital copy protection developed by Intel Corporation to prevent copying of digital audio and video content as it travels across connections. These connections include popular ones like DisplayPort (DP), Digital Visual Interface (DVI), and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), as well as non-popular or now defunct connections like Gigabit Video Interface (GVIF), and Unified Display Interface (UDI). It is commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as High-definition Copyright Protection.

HDCP does not allow copying permitted by fair use laws. The system is meant to stop HDCP-encrypted content from being played on devices that do not support HDCP or which have been modified to copy HDCP content. Before sending data, a transmitting device checks that the receiver is authorized to receive it. If so, the transmitter encrypts the data to prevent eavesdropping as it flows to the receiver.

Manufacturers who want to make a device that supports HDCP must obtain a license from Intel subsidiary Digital Content Protection LLC, pay an annual fee, and submit to various conditions. For example, devices cannot be designed to copy content; devices must "frustrate attempts to defeat the content protection requirements"; high-definition digital video sources must not transmit protected content to non-HDCP receivers; and DVD-Audio content can only be played at CD-audio quality by non-HDCP digital audio outputs (analog audio outputs have no quality limits).

Cryptanalysis researchers demonstrated flaws in HDCP as early as 2001. In September 2010, an HDCP master key that allows for the generation of valid device keys - rendering the key revocation feature of HDCP useless - was released to the public. Intel has confirmed that the crack is real, and believes the master key was reverse engineered rather than leaked. In practical terms, the impact of the crack has been described as "the digital equivalent of pointing a video camera at the TV", and of limited importance for pirates because the encryption of high-definition discs has been attacked directly, without the loss of interactive features like menus. Intel threatened to sue anyone producing an unlicensed device.

The highlighted section is what I believe is the reason. The speed of HDMI makes it very hard for people to eavesdrop on the line and steal the encryption key in transit.

What makes this all the more odd is that according this the AACS encryption key has already been cracked and the whole thing might be pretty well useless.

So there you have it. Probably more than you wanted to know about AACS and this whole nonsense.


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