HDMI technology has been with us since December 2002 when HDMI 1.0 came into being. After many enhancements to the specification, HDMI 2.0 was finally released in September 2013 and its introduction marks a significant change in HDMI technology. The good news is that HDMI 2.0 is backwards compatible with HDMI 1.x specifications, however it should be noted that the HDMI 2.0 specification is now regarded as the standard and if you need new cables, you might want to opt for HDMI 2.0, particularly if you own the latest models of a variety of hardware such as TV, PC, DVD and BluRay players.
What is HDMI 2.0?
It is technology that is used to link up hardware such as an HDTV, BluRay player or computer for example, to a digital content source, by way of a cable – an HDMI cable. It provides the user with the means to enjoy high quality digital audio and video. As previously mentioned, HDMI 1.0 was the first specification that was released, followed over the next eleven years by a series of upgrades, namely HDMI 1.1, 1.2, 1.2a, 1.3, 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.3b1, 1.3c, 1.4, 1.4a, 1.4a and finally in late 2013, HDMI 2.0. It takes HDMI 1 technology to a new level, essentially in terms of the amount of bandwidth it can support, as well as providing for present and future developments that will be undertaken by manufacturers of consumer hardware (HDTVs etc).
The HDMI 2.0 Specification
HDMI 2.0 was released into the marketplace in early September, 2013 and considering it was eleven years since the advent of HDMI 1.0, the HDMI 2.0 specification can be expected to be the industry standard for some time to come.
Transmission Minimized Differential Signaling
This is the technology that is used to ensure that high speed data is transmitted at high speed and in large volumes. It is now part of HDMI 2.0 so that the consumer audio and visual experience is of the highest quality possible. It features a specific coding algorithm that acts to reduce interference from copper cables and long cables. It also ensures that cheap cables also provide quality audio and video transmission of data. The increased TMDS is 2.4 Gbits per second, up to 6 Gbits from 3.4 Gbits per second on each channel. The total TMDS supported across all channels is 18 Gbits per second
- Resolution = HDMI 2.0 is able to support up to 4K resolution at a maximum of 60 frames per second. This equates to 2160p and provides improved clarity by up to four times the hitherto standard 1080p resolution for video.
- Audio Channels – Up to 32 are supported, resulting in what has been described as an immersive audio experience.
- Audio Standards – HR-AAC and DRA are supported
- kHz Audio – The range has been extended to support a maximum of 1536 kHz
- Audio Streams – HDMI 2.0 has a multiple user audio feature whereby up to four users can simultaneously stream their own audio.
- Video Streams – Two video streams are supported for simultaneous viewing by separate users who are sharing the same screen. This is an excellent feature however a large screen is advised so that both viewers are able to experience a reasonable sized picture.
- Video Aspect Ratio – This comes in at a ratio of 21:9 so that the user is able to experience a wide angle, theatre type view.
- Audio and Video Synchronisation – Audio and video streams are able to be synchronised and lip syncing is also supported
- CEC Extensions – These enable the user to control all electronic hardware from one point of control, making operation and management of devices easy and convenient.
- Colour Space – Rec 2020 is supported
- Chroma Subsampling is supported
- 3D – capability is improved with support for 25 frames per second included
These are the features that make up the HDMI 2.0 specification and it is worth noting that if you already have category 2 cables, they are high speed enabled and will carry the increased bandwidth of HDMI 2.0. That is not to say that that you will never need to purchase new cables though if you want to enjoy all the benefits of the HDMI 2.0 specification.
HDMI 2.0 is here to stay and all major manufacturers of electronic hardware as well as major movie producing studios use HDMI technology. Increasingly, the technology is geared to support ever greater bandwidth as well as higher quality audio and video so it makes sense to replace cables when necessary with those that support the HDMI 2.0 specification. While category 2 cables can handle the additional bandwidth, at some point most users will want to take full advantage of the latest industry standard in HDMI technology.
If you would like to find out more, please check out the references below for detailed information about the development of HDMI technology.