The big picture: Today’s technology has made high quality video available at the push of a button. But while streaming provides the ultimate in convenience, factors ranging from superior A/V quality to a need for physical media due to poor connectivity has kept the Blu-ray community alive and well if only niche. Unfortunately, Blu-ray enthusiasts using modern Intel hardware just received some not-so-great news regarding 4K UHD Blu-ray support.
A datasheet released by Intel this month provides an in-depth look at the changes behind Intel’s Core processor lineup. The sheet details the most recent technologies and performance behind the new family of processors as well as a short list of deprecated features. The latter list includes the removal of Software Guard Extensions (SGX), a requirement for protected 4K UHD content.
Digital rights management (DRM) solutions, such as those used in Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, rely upon SGX to facilitate secure communication and computation within a user’s system. The removal of SGX in Intel’s 11th and 12th-gen series CPUs means that Intel-based users leveraging their PC for 4K UHD Blu-ray content will no longer have the ability to display the expected 3840×2160 resolution offered by the high definition format.
Introduced with Intel’s Skylake line of processors, SGX is a specific set of security-related instruction codes designed to support secure computing, browsing, and DRM. SGX-enabled trusted hardware creates a secure container, or enclave, designed to protect the confidentiality and integrity of any data sent to that secure container. A cryptographic hash is used to prove the authenticity of any interaction with the container and computational data within it. Based on this requirement no data can be processed through this enclave if a matching cryptographic hash is not provided.
Though the removal of SGX means that UHD DRM-protected content will no longer be accessible to many late-model Intel users, the overall ability to display the format is not lost. Based on the information available it appears that 4K formats and data not leveraging DRM solutions should still function as expected. Functionality would also be restored if the Blu-ray Disc Association ever opts to remove DRM or other SGX-related protections from their format.
The SGX deprecation and inability to display the 4K UHD format is one more in a string of Alder Lake’s DRM-based challenges. For a few weeks after launch, the new processor lineup had rendered a group of DRM-protected PC games unplayable, however as of this month all of those DRM-based game issues have been resolved.