The Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a video interface standard designed to provide very high visual quality on digital display devices such as flat panel LCD computer displays and digital projectors. It was developed by an industry consortium, the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG). It is designed for carrying uncompressed digital video data to a display. It is partially compatible with the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standard in digital mode (DVI-D), and VGA in analog mode (DVI-A).
The DVI connector usually contains pins to pass the DVI-native digital video signals. In the case of dual-link systems, additional pins are provided for the second set of data signals.
As well as digital signals, the DVI connector includes pins providing the same analog signals found on a VGA connector, allowing a VGA monitor to be connected with a simple plug adapter. This feature was included in order to make DVI universal, as it allows either type of monitor (analog or digital) to be operated from the same connector.
The DVI connector on a device is therefore given one of four names, depending on which signals it implements:
- DVI-D (digital only)
- DVI-A (analog only)
- DVI-I (integrated, digital & analog)
- M1-DA (integrated, digital, analog & USB)
The connector also includes provision for a second data link for high resolution displays, though many devices do not implement this. In those that do, the connector is sometimes referred to as DVI-DL (dual link).
The long flat pin on a DVI-I connector is wider than the same pin on a DVI-D connector, so it is not possible to connect a male DVI-I to a female DVI-D by removing the 4 analog pins. It is possible, however, to connect a male DVI-D cable to a female DVI-I connector. Many flat panel LCD monitors have only the DVI-D connection so that a DVI-D male to DVI-D male cable will suffice when connecting the monitor to a computer's DVI-I female connector.
DVI is the only widespread video standard that includes analog and digital transmission options in the same connector. Competing standards are exclusively digital: these include a system using low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS), known by its proprietary names FPD (for Flat-Panel Display) Link and FLATLINK; and its successors, the LVDS Display Interface (LDI) and OpenLDI.
Some new DVD players, TV sets (including HDTV sets) and video projectors have DVI/HDCP connectors; these are physically the same as DVI connectors but transmit an encrypted signal using the HDCP protocol for copy protection. Computers with DVI video connectors can use many DVI-equipped HDTV sets as a display; however, due to Digital Rights Management, it is not clear whether such systems will eventually be able to play protected content, as the link is not encrypted.
USB signals are not incorporated into the connector, but were earlier incorporated into the VESA Plug and Display connector used by InFocus on their projector systems, and in the Apple Display Connector, which was used by Apple Computer until 2005.
The DMS-59 connector is a way to combine two analog and two digital signals in one plug. It is commonly used when a single graphics card has two outputs.
M1-DA connectors are sometimes labeled as DVI-M1; they are used for the VESA Enhanced Video Connector and VESA Plug and Display schemes.