The Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is a video interface standard designed to maximize the visual quality of digital display devices such as flat panel LCD computer displays and digital projectors. 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). The Digital Visual Interface uses a digital protocol in which the desired illumination of pixels is transmitted as binary data. When the display is driven at its native resolution, it will read each number and apply that brightness to the appropriate pixel.
DVI cable connectors are designed in such a way as not to allow the user to connect the cable in an incorrect position or orientation. DVI connectors are available in five models, differing in the way they handle analog or digital transfers.
In the digital transfer one or two channels are present. Video and monitor cards which are exclusively digital cannot be connected to analog, but can be connected to equipment that handles both analog and digital signals. The DVI standard also supports the Display Data Channel (DDC) and the Extended Display Identification Data (EDID), which allows computers to communicate with different monitor extensions. This uses Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS). A single DVI link consists of four twisted pairs of wire (red, green, blue, and clock) to transmit 24 bits per pixel. The timing of the signal almost exactly matches that of an analog video signal. The picture is transmitted line by line with blanking intervals between each line and each frame, and without packetization. No compression is used and there is no support for only transmitting changed parts of the image. This means that the whole frame is constantly re-transmitted. The Digital Visual Interface connector therefore has provision for a second link, containing another set of red, green, and blue twisted pairs. When more bandwidth is required than is possible with a single link, the second link is enabled, and alternate pixels may be transmitted on each, allowing resolutions up to 4 mega pixels at 60 Hz. The Digital Visual Interface 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.