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HDMI 2.0 Specification and 4K UHD (2160p) Resolutions

by May 19, 2013
HDMI 2.0 Specification

HDMI 2.0 Specification

The HDMI 2.0 specification is literally around the corner, but there is a lot of speculation as to what the HDMI 2.0 spec will actually offer. It is tied, in large part, to the maximum resolution and bandwidth requirements being faced with UHD (Ultra high-definition) 2160p displays. The board of the HDMI Forum has already officially announced HDMI 2.0, so we're now simply waiting for the details to firm up when it is released in the first half of 2013.

Double Your Pleasure

According to people who will speak off the record, the new format promises about double the existing bandwidth, taking each individual TDMS channel from a maximum of 3.4 Gbps to a full 6.0 Gbps. The other details have been hashed out as the HDMI forum has been meeting over the past months to determine the exact direction HDMI should go. The real decision seems to be whether to "simply" improve the TMDS 6 Gbps per channel bandwidth (this, of course, proposed by Silicon Image and almost all of the TV manufacturers) or actually make use of the largely superior DisplayPort technology—which already does more (in the already on-the-market version 1.2) than the rumored capabilities of HDMI 2.0.

For example, while HDMI 2.0 is struggling to bring relevant 4K (2160p) to market, DisplayPort can do 2160p 10-bit video at 60Hz right now. Currently, it takes four HDMI connections and some fancy video processing to accomplish this. You essentially send four 1080p signals into the display and stitch them together.

DisplayPort is also a latching connector where there are two clips that latch into place and a push button that releases the connector. Let's hope that if HDMI 2.0 goes the way it seems to be, they will change over the form factor slightly to allow for latching connections. Then custom installers could say goodbye to connectors which fall out and rely solely on often underperforming friction fittings.

HDMI 2.0 vs. DisplayPort

HDMI 2.0, while still in development, will make it possible to play UHD (4K) video at 50 and 60 frames per second. It's uncertain whether there will be enough bandwidth to get 120 frames per second but that has been rumored to be on the table as a supported format. It' also likely that this move will force all HDMI cables to become active in order to support the more bandwidth-intensive of the new specifications.

To put this in perspective, and illustrate why HDMI 2.0 is so important and necessary, we can take a look at current televisions on the market. The HDMI 1.4a ports on current UHD TVs from Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Sony can receive full resolution UHD or 2160p signals (3840x2160), but they can't do so at frame rates greater than 24 frames per second. While this is sufficient for movies, it's not good enough for even current 2160p television broadcasts which will use 50 or 60 fps.

Future UHD 2160p Broadcasting

The future of UHD broadcasting is almost certain to be at frames rates of at least 50 or 60 frames per second. That means that UHD TVs being sold today won't be compatible with those signals without dropping the frame rates or upgrading the HDMI input boards. Samsung, in particular, says that it will offer an upgrade kit with HDMI 2.0 ports so anyone buying into their new UHD televisions this year can expect to be able to upgrade (for a fee) to HDMI 2.0. Samsung is currently the only manufacturer to offer the possibility to add hardware modules with new features and/or connectors to existing televisions.

Sony is also hinting that its newest 55, 65 and 84-inch X9 UHD TVs are going to be made to be compatible with the HDMI 2.0 specification.

Test & Measurement of the New Formats

With new formats come new tools required to test and measure both televisions and broadcast signals. At this year's NAB several manufacturers confirmed that HDMI 2.0 will enable content up to UHD (2160p resolution) at 60 frames per second  with 10-bit or maybe even 12-bit color. The current HDMI 1.4 specification tops out at 4K with 24 or 30 frames per second at 8-bit color. Increasing the specification that far means that test and measurement equipment will need to support a lot more data. The spec is moving from 300MHz/900Gbps to about twice that at 600MHz/1800Gbps.

In conjunction with HDMI 2.0 we're also likely to start seeing more mention of HEVC, or High Efficiency Video Coding. HEVC is a video compression standard that will likely replace or supersede H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. MPEG and VCEG (Video Coding Experts Group) have set up a joint team to work on the HEVC standard. HEVC is needed because there will be much higher bandwidths encountered by 2160p video and the proliferation of that material being sent to televisions via content providers. HVEC promises to improve video quality and double the data compression ratio of H.264/MPEG-4.  It's also foreword looking and can support 8K UHD with screen resolutions up to 8192×4320.

Who Needs HDMI 2.0 and 2160p Video?

It's not about who NEEDS it, I WANT it. And so do you. Right now your 4K televisions have more processing and display capability than the HDMI inputs going into them or the broadcast standards feeding them content. In fact, in all the discussions around the arrival of Ultra-High Definition (UHD) and 4K televisions and projectors, there is still a gap in the delivery system for watching 4K content on these screens. Blu-ray is the one current disc platform with at least the capacity to contain such content, but to date no official word has been released on when we could expect any update to the platform to support 2160p playback. With HEVC coming, it may never happen.

So immediately, before all those other things fall in line, 2160p displays are going to be very useful for those who can connect them to gaming systems as well as users of DSLR cameras. Those two formats are very much able to send UHD content at 2160p to these high definition displays, but lack a connector or format to do so over a single cable.

Currently, only DisplayPort can send 60Hz 4K signals to these new sets...we need a better solution since most manufacturers don't support DisplayPort at present (nor are they likely, since most have drunk the HDMI Kool Aid.

Check out the history of the HDMI spec features here (most information gathered from Wiki):
HDMI Specification Features 1.0 1.1
1.2
1.3 1.3abcd 1.4/1.4ab
2.0
sRGB Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
YCbCr Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
8 channel LPCM, 192 kHz, 24-bit audio capability Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD video and audio at full resolution Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
DVD-Audio support No Yes
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Super Audio CD (DSD) support No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Deep color No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
xvYCC No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auto lip-sync No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dolby TrueHD bitstream capable No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Updated list of CEC commands No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
3D over HDMI[142] No No No No No Yes Yes
Ethernet channel No No No No No Yes Yes
Audio return channel (ARC) No No No No No Yes Yes
4K resolution support (24 fps)
No No No No No Yes Yes
2160p (UHD) @ 60 fps (single cable)
No
No No No
No
No
Yes
2160p (UHD) @ 120 fps (single cable) No
No No No
No
No
No
Support for 21:9 aspect ratio
No
No No No
No
No
Yes
4:2:0 chroma subsampling No
No No No
No
No
Yes
HDMI Specification Bandwidth and Resolution
1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4/1.4ab 2.0
Date initially released December 9, 2002 May 20, 2004 August 8, 2005 June 22, 2006 May 28, 2009 mid-2013
Maximum clock rate (MHz) 165 165 165 340 340 600
Maximum TMDS throughput per channel (Gbit/s) 1.65 1.65 1.65 3.40 3.40 6.00
Maximum total TMDS throughput (Gbit/s)
4.95 4.95 4.95 10.2 10.2 18.0
Maximum throughput (Gbit/s) with 8b/10b overhead removed 3.96 3.96 3.96 8.16 8.16 ?
Maximum audio throughput (Mbit/s) 36.86 36.86 36.86 36.86 36.86 ?
Maximum color depth (bit/px.) 24 24 24 48 48 ?
Maximum resolution over single link at 24-bit/px 1920×1200p60 1920x1200p60 1920x1200p60 2560×1600p75 4096×2160p24 ?
Maximum resolution over single link at 30-bit/px N/A N/A N/A 2560×1600p60 4096×2160p24 ?
Maximum resolution over single link at 36-bit/px N/A N/A N/A 1920×1200p75 4096×2160p24 ?
Maximum resolution over single link at 48-bit/px N/A N/A N/A 1920×1200p60 1920×1200p60 ?

"Mastered in 4K" - Don't Be Confused

One final thought in regards to HDMI 2.0 specification and the promises of higher resolution content and higher frames rates has to do with some of the current claims for 4K content. Sony Pictures has already started production of their "Mastered in 4K" Blu-ray discs. What consumers need to know is that these discs are not stored as 4K or 2160p, they're just 1080p High Definition discs that were sourced from digitally re-mastered movies and “optimized” for 4K viewing. We don't even know what that means since most Blu-ray movies are master from high-resolution digital prints. In any case, these 1080p discs are set to be released any day now (May 2013).

Wrapping it Up

So, are you excited about HDMI 2.0 specification being released? Well, if you're looking at that new 4K television you should be. Also, you can't expect broadcast and streaming to leap forward to the higher resolutions before there is a mechanism to move those signals around. HDMI 2.0 promises to be just that. We just hope they implement some hard changes that will give clearer direction than in the past. HDMI has had a tendency to let everyone do whatever they want with respect to things like CEC and what specs are mandated in cables and televisions. While we understand the need for flexibility, the result has largely been more aptly described as "consumer confusion".

Let's hope HDMI 2.0 is a fresh new start and not the beginning of a "released-before-it's-ready" consumer electronics nightmare.

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About the author:

Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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Recent Forum Posts:

DTV TiVo Dealer posts on July 11, 2013 21:56
Clint great article, accurate, informative and nicely written! The discussion thread is also excellent.

Just today we received and set-up Samsung's 85“ S9 UHDTV, which is our second UHD display as we have Sony's 65” X900A on our Flat Panel Shootout evaluation wall. So we're moving ahead with setting up an UHDTV store within our store, but a bit cautiously.

I've privately and publicly been discussing with all UHD display manufacturers about providing an upgrade path to support at least HDMI 2.0 and HEVC decoding. To date, only Samsung seems to have a clear solution with the “One Connect” external box and or Evolution kit.

So my bottom line on all of this is that it's true the early adopter pays a premium and deals with technology changes and advancements that make being first an expensive and brave move forward. But with that understood and considered I'm already having fun with my UHD displays and this new adventure has just begun. Sony's X900A looks so very stunning with Sony's media player and Samsung's 85" full array LED display has been a delight with the few BD's we played this afternoon.

So its been a great experience for us so far and our clients are loving what they see. We're looking forward to getting into our beautiful a/v showroom tomorrow to enjoy more UHD and to get more native content and push the UHDTV manufacturers to immediately, upon its availability, integrate HDMI 2.0 into the new crop of Ultra HDTVs that are launching in the next month or two.

-Robert
Grador posts on June 18, 2013 16:46
rippleyaliens, post: 973038
From an IT Point of View. Hdmi 2.0, will not make it. Reason= Hdmi 2= 4K Tv, 60HZ.. - The Technology is moving too fast.. This standard, NOW suffers from limitations..

First time in GAMER History, that there are already Video Cards, 4K Gaming, but at 30FPS.. Impressive, never been done before. Usually it is the Card, playing catch up. With that - The Demand for those panes, are going to go Ridiculous. Asus, is releasing, a Gamer monitor with 4k Display, 60Hz, and the price - $3200.. Give\take.. You can already get a 50" 4K TV, now, for $1250, and when that baby turned on.. Silence is what it was.

Display port, already, supports, the Magical 4K, 60hz.. -Imagine Eye-Infinity, on 3 of these..

SO,.. Hdmi 2.0 Is SOSO\Hdmi 1.4 =4K 30Hz..
Will be Different Cables..
Different Devices..
Different Cable Box's.. New version of Xbox1-UHD.. And so on..

Best to hold off, untill a standard, is revised. And for Gamers, that means, buying YET Another, insane priced video card.. It Costs.. But the results, are Gamechanging.

Almost as painful as the change to hdmi…

I have no clue what you're getting at. What exactly do you think HDMI 2 is lacking?
rippleyaliens posts on June 18, 2013 16:28
Its Easy..

From an IT Point of View. Hdmi 2.0, will not make it. Reason= Hdmi 2= 4K Tv, 60HZ.. - The Technology is moving too fast.. This standard, NOW suffers from limitations..

First time in GAMER History, that there are already Video Cards, 4K Gaming, but at 30FPS.. Impressive, never been done before. Usually it is the Card, playing catch up. With that - The Demand for those panes, are going to go Ridiculous. Asus, is releasing, a Gamer monitor with 4k Display, 60Hz, and the price - $3200.. Give\take.. You can already get a 50" 4K TV, now, for $1250, and when that baby turned on.. Silence is what it was.

Display port, already, supports, the Magical 4K, 60hz.. -Imagine Eye-Infinity, on 3 of these..

SO,.. Hdmi 2.0 Is SOSO\Hdmi 1.4 =4K 30Hz..
Will be Different Cables..
Different Devices..
Different Cable Box's.. New version of Xbox1-UHD.. And so on..

Best to hold off, untill a standard, is revised. And for Gamers, that means, buying YET Another, insane priced video card.. It Costs.. But the results, are Gamechanging.

Almost as painful as the change to hdmi…
ichigo posts on June 13, 2013 03:06
4K is worthless for gaming right now because HDMI 1.4 is stuck at 30Hz. Can't wait for HDMI 2.0 to come out so we can finally 60Hz so those 4K televisions are actually worth buying.
panteragstk posts on June 06, 2013 13:10
Yeah POE was the closest thing I could think of. I'm excited about this standard as well. While HDMI certainly has its faults, it is better than a huge bundle of component cables plus SPDIF and RS232. Granted CEC is no RS232.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I727 using Tapatalk 2
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