Display Data Channel
The Display Data Channel, or DDC, is a collection of protocols for digital communication between a computer display and a graphics adapter that enable the display to communicate its supported display modes to the adapter and that enable the computer host to adjust monitor parameters, such as brightness and contrast.
Like modern analog VGA connectors, the DVI and DisplayPort connectors include pins for the display data channel (DDC), but DP supports DDC within its optional Dual-Mode DP (DP++) feature in DVI/HDMI mode only.
The standard was created by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA).
The DDC suite of standards aims to provide a "plug and play" experience for computer displays.
DDC1 and DDC2B/Ab/B+/Bi protocols are a physical link between a monitor and a video card, which was originally carried on either two or three pins in a 15-pin analog VGA connector.
Extended display identification data (EDID) is a companion standard; it defines a compact binary file format describing the monitor's capabilities and supported graphics modes, stored in a read-only memory (EEPROM) chip programmed by the manufacturer of the monitor. The format uses a description block containing 128 bytes of data, with optional extension blocks to provide additional information. The most current version is Enhanced EDID (E-EDID) Release A, v2.0.
The first version of the DDC standard was adopted in August 1994. It included the EDID 1.0 format and specified DDC1, DDC2B and DDC2Ab physical links.
DDC version 2, introduced in April 1996, split EDID into a separate standard and introduced the DDC2B+ protocol.
DDC version 3, December 1997, introduced the DDC2Bi protocol and support for VESA Plug and Display and Flat Panel Display Interface on separate device addresses, requiring them to comply with EDID 2.0.
The DDC standard has been superseded by E-DDC in 1999.
Prior to the DDC, the VGA standard had reserved four pins in the analog VGA connector, known as ID0, ID1, ID2 and ID3 (pins 11, 12, 4 and 15) for identification of monitor type. These ID pins, attached to resistors to pull one or more of them to ground (GND), allowed for the definition of the monitor type, with all open (n/c, not connected) meaning "no monitor".
In the most commonly documented scheme, the ID3 pin was unused and only the 3 remaining pins were defined. The ID0 was pulled to GND by color monitors, while the monochrome monitors pulled ID1 to GND. Finally, the ID2 pulled to GND signaled a monitor capable of 1024×768 resolution, such as IBM 8514. In this scheme, the input states of the ID pins would encode the monitor type as follows:
|ID2 (pin 4)||ID0 (pin 11)||ID1 (pin 12)||monitor type|
|n/c||n/c||n/c||no monitor connected|
|n/c||n/c||GND||< 1024×768, monochrome|
|n/c||GND||n/c||< 1024×768, color|
|GND||GND||n/c||≥ 1024×768, color|
More elaborate schemes also existed that used all of the 4 ID pins while manipulating the HSync and VSync signals in order to extract 16 bits (4 ID pin values for each of the 4 combinations of HSync and VSync states) of monitor identification.
DDC changed the purpose of the ID pins to incorporate a serial link interface. However, during the transition, the change was not backwards-compatible and video cards using the old scheme could have problems if a DDC-capable monitor was connected. The DDC signal can be sent to or from a video graphics array (VGA) monitor with the I2C protocol using the master's serial clock and serial data pins.
DDC1 is a simple, low-speed, unidirectional serial link protocol. Pin 12, ID1 functions as a data line that continuously transmits the 128-byte EDID block, and the data clock is synchronised with vertical sync, providing typical clock rates of 60 to 100 Hz.
Very few display devices implemented this protocol.
The most common version, called DDC2B, is based on I²C, a serial bus. Pin 12, ID1 of the VGA connector is now used as the data pin from the I²C bus, and the formerly-unused pin 15 became the I²C clock; pin 9, previously used as a mechanical key, supplied +5V DC power up to 50mA to drive the EEPROM, this allows the host to read the EDID even if the monitor is powered off. Though I²C is fully bidirectional and supports multiple bus-masters, DDC2B is unidirectional and allows only one bus master - the graphics adapter. The monitor acts as a slave device at the 7-bit I²C address 50h, and provides 128-256 bytes of read-only EDID. Because this access is always a read, the first I²C octet will always be A1h.
DDC2Ab is an implementation of the I²C-based 100 kbit/s ACCESS.bus interface, which allowed monitor manufacturers to support external ACCESS.bus peripherals such as a mouse or keyboard with little to no additional effort; such devices and monitors were briefly available in the mid 1990s, but disappeared with the introduction of USB.
DDC2B+ and DDC2Bi are scaled-down versions of DDC2Ab which only support monitor and graphics card devices but still allow bidirectional communication between them.
DDC/CI (Command Interface) standard was introduced in August 1998. It specifies a means for a computer to send commands to the monitor, as well as receive sensor data from the monitor, over a bidirectional link. Specific commands to control monitors are defined in a separate Monitor Control Command Set (MCCS) standard version 1.0, released in September 1998.
DDC/CI monitors are sometimes supplied with an external color sensor to allow automatic calibration of the monitor's color balance. Some tilting DDC/CI monitors support an auto-pivot function, where a rotation sensor in the monitor enables the operating system to keep the display upright as the monitor is moved between its portrait and landscape positions.
Most DDC/CI monitors support only a small subset of MCCS commands and some have undocumented commands. Many manufacturers did not pay attention to DDC/CI in the past, but now almost all monitors support such general MCCS commands as brightness and contrast management.[a]
DDC/CI standard describes a full suite of bidirectional control protocols - DDC2Ab, DDC2Bi and DDC2B+ - in a single standard and provides a means for packaging Monitor Control Command Set commands.
DDC/CI version 1.1 was adopted in October 2004.
Monitor Control Command Set version 2.0 was adopted in October 2003. A new MCCS V3 was introduced in July 2006, though did not gain enough industry attention yet. The latest release of V2 standard is version 2.2, adopted February 2009.
OS support for DDC/CIEdit
Despite its ubiquity in post-2016 displays, DDC/CI is not generally used by the operating system by default for brightness control on external displays. Additional software can be used to send commands to the display, but the degree of system integration vary.
Windows exposes DDC/CI as the Monitor Configuration Win32 API series.
Enhanced Display Data Channel (E-DDC) is the most recent revision of the DDC standard. Version 1 was introduced in September 1999 and featured the addition of a segment pointer which allowed up to 32 Kbytes of display information storage for use by the Enhanced EDID (E-EDID) standard.
Earlier DDC implementations used simple 8-bit data offset when communicating with the EDID memory in the monitor, limiting the storage size to 28 bytes = 256 bytes, but allowing the use of cheap 2-Kbit EEPROMs. In E-DDC, a special I²C addressing scheme was introduced, in which multiple 256-byte segments could be selected. To do this, a single 8-bit segment index is passed to the display via the I²C address 30h. (Because this access is always a write, the first I²C octet will always be 60h.) Data from the selected segment is then immediately read via the regular DDC2 address using a repeated I²C 'START' signal. However, VESA specification defines the segment index value range as 00h to 7Fh, so this only allows addressing 128 segments × 256 bytes = 32 KiB. The segment index register is volatile, defaulting to zero and automatically resetting to zero after each NACK or STOP. Therefore, it must be set every time access to data above the first 256-byte segment is performed. The auto-reset mechanism is to provide for backward compatibility to, for example, DDC2B hosts, otherwise they may be stuck at a segment other than 00h in some rare cases.
Other important changes were removal of the DDC1 and DDC2Ab protocols, deprecation of separate VESA P&D and FPDI device addresses, and clarifications to the DDC power requirements.
E-DDC Version 1.1, approved March 2004, featured support for HDMI and consumer electronics.
E-DDC Version 1.2, approved December 2007, introduced support for DisplayPort (which has no dedicated DDC2B links and uses its bidirectional auxiliary channel for EDID and MCCS communication) and DisplayID standards.
E-DDC Version 1.3 from September 2017 contains corrections for errata and minor clarifications.
Some KVM switches (keyboard-video-mouse) and video extenders handle DDC traffic incorrectly, making it necessary to disable monitor plug and play features in the operating system, and maybe even physically remove pin 12 (serial data pin) from the analog VGA cables that connect such device to multiple PCs.
Microsoft Windows features a standard "Plug and Play Monitor" driver which uses the display's EDID information to construct a list of supported monitor modes. The Display Resolution control panel applet allows the user to disable this driver's Plug and Play features and manually select any resolution or refresh rate supported by the video card. Many video card manufacturers and third parties provide control applications which allow the user to select a custom display mode that does not conform to the EDID information or the monitor .INF file.
- Patent US5285197 – Method and apparatus for automatic selection of scan rates for enhanced VGA-compatible monitors
- PS/2 Video Subsystem Technical Reference Manual, Preliminary Draft May 19th 1992
- Enhanced Display Data Channel Standard, Version 1.1[permanent dead link]
- Poynton, Charles. ""Brightness" and "Contrast" controls". poynton.ca. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
- Patek, Marcel. "LCD Displays - liquid crystals - gamut - phosphors - polarization". Digital Photography.
- VESA Standards Summaries: Display Data Channel Command Interface (DDC/CI) Standard, Version 1.1(VESA document VESA-2004-10)
- "What is DDC/CI and How to Use It". Appuals.com. 21 February 2019.
- "Monitor Configuration - Win32 apps". docs.microsoft.com.
Lyosha Blinnikov. "Allowing any screen resolution on Vista".
I performed this mod on an old 6" patch cable that was previously used for connecting a 3D accelerator. I call it my "freedom cable", as it can be connected to any monitor to temporarily disable its EDID :D
- Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) Standard, Version 3, 1997, VESA
- VESA Standards FAQ
- Display interfaces: fundamentals. Bob Myers, Robert L. Myers, Society for Information Display
- ddcci-driver-linux: Linux kernel driver supporting backlight control for monitors supporting DDC/CI
- ddccontrol: Linux software which uses DDC/CI to control monitors supporting this protocol (seems to be maintained on github)
- ddcutil: (formerly ddctool) Linux software for querying and changing monitor settings over DDC/CI
- MonitorDarkly: proof of concept for exploiting monitors over vendor-specific DDC/CI extensions
- softMCCS: Windows software which uses DDC/CI to control monitors supporting this protocol
- Nicomsoft WinI2C/DDC: Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) which uses I2C and DDC/CI protocols to control monitors (removed from support, downloadable ZIP files don't contain application)
- Monitorian: Open source application that uses DDC/CI to change brightness from a icon in the Task Bar
- Twinkle Tray: similar to Monitorian
- Win10_BrightnessSlider: similar to Monitorian
- DisplayBuddy: a Mac app for control of display functions
- NativeDisplayBrightness: a minimal DDC luminosity app for Mac OS X
- ddcctl: an open source tool for querying and changing monitor settings over DDC/CI
- MonitorControl: an open source tool for mac which uses DDC/CI to control monitors supporting this protocol
- Lunar: an open source app that uses DDC to sync a Mac's primary display brightness and contrast with external monitors