MIPI Display: A Complete Selection Guide

MIPI displays are screens using MIPI(Mobile Industry Processor Interface). They offer the best display solution for mobile products.

In this article, you will learn about them, including the following:

After reading this guide, you will know how to find the right MIPI display module for your products. And it will be easier to develop your project with Arduino or Raspberry PI.

What is MIPI interface?

MIPI (Mobile Industry Processor Interface) is a series of standards for connecting components inside mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The MIPI Alliance manages it.

MIPI Alliance is a non-profit organization with over 200 member companies from the mobile industry. This ensures that the standards benefit the whole mobile industry. Thus, that is good for both parts manufacturers and device makers. Using MIPI standards also reduces R&D costs because specifications are shared.

MIPI standards cover the logic of how data is transmitted and the details of how hardware works, like cable specs, pinouts, and PCB layout. So, a company can easily make a device with different MIPI mobile components like processors, memory, storage, displays, cameras, etc.

It also speeds up product development since the parts use the same interface.

MIPI interfaces support both parallel and serial connections. Though, parallel interfaces can still provide high bandwidth for some applications. High-speed serial interfaces like MIPI DSI, which use fewer pins and less power/cost, are becoming more common.

New MIPI standards aim to provide higher bandwidths (up to 64 Gbps), longer distances (up to 5m), and support for better features (8K, HDR, etc.) like higher resolution displays or VR/AR technologies. But they are still compatible with existing standards, so companies do not have to redesign.

In short, MIPI interface standards make it easier to design and manufacture mobile devices. Each part inside from different companies can still work well with each other. That benefits the whole mobile industry.

Some MIPI Standards

  • MIPI DSI (Display Serial Interface) – Defines how to connect processors to displays. Nearly all smartphones and tablets use MIPI DSI.
  • MIPI DPI (Display Pixel interface) – Used in Active-Matrix LCDs for handheld devices, not as popular as DSI
  • MIPI CSI (Camera Serial Interface) – Defines the interface for connecting image sensors like cameras.
  • MIPI SPMI (System Power Management Interface)
  • MIPI SoundWire – For audio components

MIPI Display Types

MIPI display interfaces mainly include 3 types:

  1. MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI),
  2. MIPI Display Pixel Interface (DPI),
  3. MIPI Display Command Set (DCS).

MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI)

MIPI DSI is the most common MIPI display interface. It is a high-speed serial interface between a host processor and a display module. It supports resolutions up to 4K.

It uses differential signaling to send video and control data over limited lanes (2-lanes or 4-lanes). That is why it costs less and uses less power than parallel interface (MIPI DPI). Nearly all smartphones and tablets use MIPI DSI.

MIPI Display Pixel Interface (DPI)

MIPI DPI is a parallel interface mainly used for RGB displays. It sends video data in parallel over multiple lanes at once for higher bandwidth. DPI can handle bandwidths of up to 64 Gbps for 8K resolution. But it needs more power, costs more, and needs additional PCB space as it has more lanes.

MIPI Display Command Set (DCS)

MIPI DCS defines standard commands to control display settings like resolution, orientation and mode. With DSI, it is easy to configure display panels and send image information between processors and displays. Furthermore, companies can quickly integrate display modules into their products. But DCS has limited adoption and is mainly an extra part with DSI.

Differences Between MIPI DSI and MIPI DPI

MIPI DSIMIPI DPI
Bandwidth16Gbps64Gbps
Max Resolution Surported4K8K
Number of Lanes1 to 4 lanes2 to 12 lanes
Signaling typedifferential signalingsingle-ended signaling
Marketsmartphones/tabletshigh-end products

Bandwidth and Resolution: MIPI DPI provides higher bandwidth for more advanced displays.

Number of lanes: More lanes mean higher bandwidth but also higher cost, power and PCB space requirement (transmission distances).

Signaling type: DSI consumes (differential signaling) less power and supports long distances between components.

In short, MIPI DSI optimizes performance, cost and power efficiency for most mobile displays. DPI and DCS offers higher bandwidth or niche requirements.

MIPI DSI Display Details

MIPI DSI defines the communication protocol between an application processor (the brain of the device) and a display panel (the screen) over a high-speed serial interface.

DSI protocol includes:

  • Commands set
  • Data packets
  • Video modes
  • Virtual channels
  • Error handling, etc.

Commands set

DSI commands make it easier to control the display using 8-bit commands (like configuring display settings, transmitting image data, sending voltage levels, checking status, etc.).

Data packets

Data packets send video and command information with headers and check-codes to detect errors.

Video modes

DSI Video mode sets the video stream’s resolution, color, frame rate, and other attributes.

Virtual channels

Virtual channels enable multiple data streams between processors and displays for technologies like 3D displays.

Error handling

Error handling detects issues and recovers the interface to prevent hangs.

Others

Support features like:

  • display blanking,
  • pixel skipping,
  • frame rate reduction
  • and bus switching to lower power consumption.

These features are important for mobile devices.

MIPI DSI has improved over time to enable more advanced versions. You can learn about 3 main types in this list:

  • MIPI DSI supports up to 4K resolution (4000 pixels wide), 60Hz refresh rates, and 24-bit color depth. It is used in most smartphones and tablets.
  • MIPI DSI-2 provides 32Gbps bandwidth, High Dynamic Range (HDR), and enhanced volatile writes. It is used in high-end smartphones.
  • MIPI DSI-3 offers 64Gbps bandwidth, up to 12 data lanes, 240Hz refresh rate, virtual reality/augmented reality features, and improved low power controls. That makes it possible to have 8K resolution, wider color gamut, faster response times, and immersive experiences. Still in development and new.

In summary, MIPI DSI provides the best way for components to connect. Meanwhile, it can reduce costs, simplify design and speed up innovation in mobile devices. Different technology versions offer additional bandwidth, resolution, feature, or power needs.

MIPI DSI displays provide a solution using less power and improving the user experience for mobile devices.

2-lane vs 4-lane MIPI DSI Displays

Here is a simple comparison of 2-lane and 4-lane MIPI DSI displays:

Bandwidth

A 4-lane DSI interface has double the bandwidth of a 2-lane DSI. 4-lane can transfer data at up to 10.2 Gbps, while 2-lane tops out at 5.1 Gbps. Higher bandwidth is the biggest advantage of 4-lane MIPI DSI displays.

The extra bandwidth allows 4-lane DSI to support higher resolution and refresh rate displays for a better viewing experience. It can handle 4K screens, 120Hz refresh rates, and wider color formats.

Pin count

A 4-lane DSI connector has almost twice as many pins as a 2-lane DSI. This makes the connector bigger, more expensive, and more complex. However, 4-lane DSI may still have benefits for fast speeds.

Power usage

4-lane DSI uses a bit more power due to additional signal processing. But for most displays, the difference is small. 4-lane DSI can still remain power efficient overall.

Price

4-lane DSI solutions often cost more, mainly from the larger connector and extra components. However, 4-lane DSI totally costs less, especially for larger, higher-resolution screens.

Compatibility

2-lane DSI designs can usually upgrade to 4-lane DSI, but not vice versa. Newer devices typically use 4-lane DSI, while 2-lane DSI still appears in some lower-cost or smaller products. Both standards will co-exist for now.

Benefits

 4-lane DSI helps higher resolution, faster refresh rates, wider color, and future-proofing. However, 2-lane DSI works well for many mainstream screens and offers a smaller, cheaper option. It depends on what the application needs.

In short, the main differences between 2-lane and 4-lane MIPI DSI are bandwidth, pin count, possible power usage, cost, compatibility and features supported. 4-lane DSI enables more advanced displays, while 2-lane DSI provides a simpler way for more basic needs. Most new high-end devices use 4-lane MIPI DSI displays, but both will continue for different markets.

Advantages of MIPI DSI Displays

MIPI DSI displays are better than other screens because of their advantages:

  • Cheaper and easier to use,
  • Use less power,
  • Slimmer and smaller,
  • Can handle high-resolution displays,
  • and so on.

Easy to use

MIPI DSI displays provide an easy-to-use standard interface for connecting processors. This lets companies reduce design work and costs. Engineers can connect these screens to a control system fast.

Use little power

MIPI DSI displays have features that can turn off parts of the screen when not needed, like blanking areas. They use smaller signal changes that require less energy. That is important for portable /mobile devices.

High-quality Images

MIPI DSI displays ensure a stable connection and prevent data corruption and interface problems. They can find and fix them without stopping the screen. That helps the screen keep clear and smooth.

Advanced Features

MIPI DSI displays have new versions (DSI-2, DSI-3) that allow for better image quality, higher refresh rates, HDR, etc. Technologies like virtual reality can also use them. MIPI DSI displays have many types, like TFT LCDs and OLED displays. So, you can easily customize a display solution for your need.

Reduce EMI (electromagnetic interference)

MIPI DSI displays use differential signaling (compared to single-ended), which makes less electronic noise. That is why they work well even in places like TVs, medical equipment, and cars where EMI is usually a problem.

Long Distance Connecting Cable

MIPI DSI displays can send signals farther and more precisely. Cables can be up to 1 meter long without losing information or signal strength.

In short, MIPI DSI displays offer many benefits in mobile phones, tablets, TVs, cars, and other devices. These benefits include lower cost, lower power, better reliability, support for advanced features, flexibility, less EMI, and long-distance connection. MIPI DSI displays are the best choice for most mobile and home entertainment products because of these.

Examples of MIPI Displays

MIPI DSI displays are now popular for

  • Smartphones and Tablets,
  • Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers,
  • Laptops and Monitors
  • Car displays,
  • Digital signage,
  • Mini-LED and Micro-LED screens.

They allow fast, cheap, and power-efficient display solutions. Meanwhile, they have high quality and develop new technologies for more applications.

Smartphone and Tablet Displays

MIPI DSI displays allow companies to build a fast display solution for a phone or tablet. Also, these screens use less power because they have features that can turn off parts of the screen when not needed.

Manufacturers include Samsung, LG, BOE, and many more. AMOLED and IPS displays are the best ones.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers

Some high-end smartwatches and fitness trackers use mini MIPI DSI displays. In contrast, low-end smartwatches may use the SPI solution instead, which is cheaper but with limited resolution. Suppliers like BOE, Go2Display, and others provide both SPI and MIPI DSI watch displays.

Laptop and Monitor Displays

Some new laptops, especially thinner and lighter models, have started using MIPI DSI displays instead of eDP or LVDS. Monitors can be up to 4K resolution with MIPI DSI screens. Brands like Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, and ViewSonic offer items.

Car Displays

Vehicle entertainment system displays, instrument cluster displays, and car head-up display panels usually use MIPI DSI displays. These screens are simple, low cost, reliable, and offer a good user experience. Suppliers like BOE, Innolux, Go2Display, and others provide MIPI DSI car display solutions.

Digital Signage

MIPI DSI displays are often used in large touch screens and digital signages. That can save money, be more flexible, and be easier to handle. Companies like NEC, eyefactive, MultiTaction, and more support MIPI touchscreen products.

Mini-LED and Micro-LED Displays

New technologies for Mini-LED and Micro-LED displays are starting to use MIPI DSI as their interface option. This is similar to dedicated point-to-point interfaces using MIPI DSI as a standard. Manufacturers like Samsung and BOE are developing these new MIPI DSI LED screens.

Conclusion

In summary, MIPI products, especially MIPI DSI displays, have changed the mobile industry. They provide a standard, efficient, and affordable way to connect components in devices.

The MIPI Alliance keeps improving MIPI standards to meet the growing need for higher resolution, better performance, and new features like virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.

MIPI DSI displays offer many benefits. They cost less, use less power, are reliable, flexible, and reduce EMI. That is why they are the top choice for mobile devices, car entertainment systems, and other applications.

As the MIPI Alliance keeps creating and expanding technology, electronics manufacturers can expect even more advanced, powerful, and efficient devices in the future.