On November 28, 2017, the HDMI Forum, Inc., announced the release of their new HDMI®  2.1 Specification. Among other things, this new version will be better supporting 4K and 8K ultra-high resolution display technologies.  

Beyond the high resolution and increased frame-rates [….], more lines of communication needed to be opened up between devices sitting on either side of an HDMI cable. Right now, your Blu-ray player or game console can talk to your TV, but only in tiny bits at a time. They spit words at each other, but they can’t have a conversation in real time. By changing the way HDMI jacks and HDMI cables are structured, the HDMI organization was able to not only handle more traffic in a smarter way but also more conversations could be had among that traffic. In other words, if HDMI 2.0 is our existing, choked-up freeway system, then HDMI 2.1 is a mega-highway filled with autonomous cars driving themselves, immune to bottlenecks, and instantly adapting to traffic fluctuations.    

Caleb Denison, Digital Trends, HDMI 2.1 Explained.

In keeping with the trend toward simplicity and pre-integration, HDMI technology products have become more streamlined, uncluttered and intuitiveso it makes sense that the cables that support them enjoy the same advancement.

PoE delivers power and data over one Cat 5, Cat 5e, or Cat 6 Ethernet cable. HDMI cables now come with Ethernet technology. Like PoE, power will soon be added to HDMI cable functionality, or PoHD for short. Stay tuned as we learn more.

You may have already been exploring 2.1 to find out about cable compatibilities. Let’s take a closer look at the brilliance about to unfold.

Notable HDMI 2.1 supported technology advancements

The arrival to market of HDMI 2.1, by all accounts, will happen slowly. Optimists are counting on product delivery by the end of Q1 in January 2019. The conservative view is closer to end of Q2. Good news is that HDMI 2.1 promises to triple current bandwidths.

Here are some of the other upgrades we currently know:

  • 4k signal range will be 120Hz
  • 8k and possible 10k signal range is 60Hz
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) will improve images quality allowing changes to occur in realtime, making them more life-like
  • Refresh rate speeds will significantly lower latency for gamers
  • Quick media will increase speeds while switching from one screen to the next for video streaming
  • No lip-synch issues

It doesn’t take much imagination to predict these same capabilities are going to make both digital signage and video walls hot items for the business community. Real-time communication to the public and ultra-high definition images all rolled into one are sure to grab consumer attention.

What about the cables?

Future-proofing the cables required to support high-resolution is a good idea. Happily, there is some backward compatibility with wires. With 2.1 compatibilities, they will eventually expand feature sets, BUT earlier generations of cables will work for 4K displays. 3D technology is already supported by 1.4.

To achieve optimum results experts are saying ultra-high speed cables are your best bet for 2.1 compliant devices.

Ethernet Capabilities

One not-to-miss option is HDMI Ultra-High Resolution with Ethernet because it allows transmission of data including a shared Internet connection if one of the devices is connected. Make sure to check that devices are Ethernet compliant.

NOTE: TMDS incorporates an advanced coding algorithm to reduce electromagnetic interference [aka wifi] over copper cables. and enables robust clock recovery at the receiver to achieve high skew tolerance for driving longer cables as well as shorter low-cost cables. Skew is where higher latency and lip-synching issues come from.

HDMI supported technology and cable specifications

HDMI recommended cables

The HDMI development team have listed their recommendations for cabling.

High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet

  • Supports 1080p video resolution and beyond
  • Dedicated data channel (HDMI Ethernet Channel) for Ethernet Channel-enabled device networking

Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable and Premium High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet

  • Designed and certified for ultra-reliable performance for 4K/UltraHD
    • 4K60
    • HDR
  • Expanded color spaces including BT.2020, and 4:4:4 chroma sampling.
  • Low EMI and are identified by HDMI Licensing Administrator’s Premium HDMI Cable Certification Label for authentication verification.

The Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable

  • Supports ultra high-bandwidth
  • Supports uncompressed 8K video with HDR
  • Supports up to 48Gbps bandwidth
  • Exceptionally low EMI (electromagnetic interference) which reduces interference from wifi
  • Supports the HDMI Ethernet channel
  • Backward compatible
  • Support existing installed base of HDMI devices

Holidays are four months away

At the risk of sounding overly commercial, the time when ultra-high resolution products begin flying off the shelves is down the other end of the runway so-to-speak. It’s definitely the time to refresh on popular technologies like this one.

Xbox, Blu-ray, and all of the new televisions are sure to pique the fancy of holdouts as we reach the top-out the human eye’s range of visibly seeable resolution. One friend reminded me that higher resolutions than this will be required as we moved into 3D.

That’s it for now.  

To learn more about HDMI compliant IT Networking products from PLANET, be sure to check out our HDMI over IP with PoE digital signage and video wall extender kits.