End of Support for Intel SGX Affects DRM and Ultra HD Blu-ray Support

Big Picture: Modern technology has made high quality video available at the push of a button. But while streaming provides the ultimate convenience, factors ranging from superb audio/video quality to the need for physical media due to poor connectivity keep the Blu-ray community alive and well, albeit only in a niche. Unfortunately, Blu-ray enthusiasts using modern Intel hardware just got some not-so-good news about 4K UHD Blu-ray support.

A data sheet released by Intel this month provides a detailed overview of the changes to the Intel Core processor lineup. The sheet details the latest technology and performance of the new processor family, as well as a short list of deprecated features. The last list includes removal Software Guard Extensions (SGX), a requirement for 4K UHD protected content.

Digital rights management (DRM) solutions, such as those used in Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, rely on SGX to provide secure communication and computing on a user’s system. The removal of SGX on Intel 11th and 12th generation series processors means that Intel-based users using their PC for 4K UHD Blu-ray content will no longer be able to display the expected 3840×2160 resolution offered by the high definition format.

Introduced in the Intel Skylake processor line, SGX is a special 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. The cryptographic hash is used to authenticate any interaction with the container and the computational data within it. Under this requirement, no data may be processed through this enclave unless corresponding cryptographic hash not provided.

While the removal of SGX means that DRM-protected UHD content will no longer be available to many Intel users of the latest models, the format’s overall display capability is not lost. Based on the information available, 4K formats and non-DRM content should still work as expected. Functionality will also be restored if Blu-ray Disc Association ever decides to remove DRM or other SGX related protections from its format.

The ending of SGX support and the inability to display 4K UHD is another DRM-based Alder Lake issue. Within weeks of its launch, the new line of processors rendered the DRM-protected PC game group unplayable, however, as of this month, all of these issues with DRM-based games have been resolved.

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