This week Intel Corp started knocking some heads together over a specification for connecting PCs to digital flat panel displays. It has effectively bypassed the cumbersome and somewhat schizophrenic VESA Videom Electronics Standards Association’s approach to the problem (CI No 3,488). It has Compaq, Dell, HP, IBM, NEC, Microsoft and others together in a new working group with will use Silicon Image Inc’s PanelLink technology as the basis of a specification it says it wants nailed down by the end of the first quarter of next year. Most of the group’s members are also involved with VESA. Intel says it’s likely to offer the group’s work up to VESA once it is complete but said it felt compelled try and to accelerate the work because of concern over the confusing number of different proposals in the area. Currently flat panel displays, which in the not too distant future will replace the cathode ray tube (CRT) screen as the standard monitor for PCs, other computers and televisions, are connected to PCs by a bizarre set of connections. At present a PC’s digital output is converted to analog (for CRTs) and converted back to digital for display on flat panel screens. Intel says the new group will define an end-to-end digital solution but accommodate the need for analog support during the transition to digital displays. VESA has endorsement of an all- digital proposal called DFP backed by Compaq, HP and others using technology from Toronto, Canada-based ATI Technologies Inc. However it has also previously begun work on a hybrid interim digital-analog solution called Plug and Display using the Silicon Image PanelLink. Silicon Image, which sells integrated circuits with PanelLink embedded expects the market for flat-panel displays is to reach $34bn by 2002. Shipments of integrated circuits for flat-panels will reach $3.4bn that year. Digital displays will deliver better quality images than CRT and should eventually knock $100 or so off the price of displays.