Networking & Cables

New HDMI 2.1 Specification Transmits 48Gbps to Handle 8K60Hz with HDR, 4K120Hz

HDMI Forum has unveiled the new backwards-compatible HDMI 2.1 specification that will transmit up to 48Gbps bandwidth to support not only 4K @ 60Hz with HDR, plus 8K @60Hz and 4K @ 120Hz.

New HDMI 2.1 Specification Transmits 48Gbps to Handle 8K60Hz with HDR, 4K120Hz
The new HDMI 2.1 spec calls for a cable that can handle 48Gbps. The connector will be the same.

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It looks like HDMI has met the challenge. The HDMI Forum, Inc. announced the upcoming release of Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification,which not only handles 4K resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate needed for High Dynamic Range (HDR), but goes well beyond that bandwidth need.

This latest HDMI Specification supports a range of Higher Video Resolutions and refresh rates including 8K60 and 4K120, Dynamic HDR, and increased bandwidth with a new 48G cable.   

“We have no clear understanding of when products will be out.  Many of the HDMI Forum members have an early look at the spec so they may be working on products already.”
— Chris Pasqualino, HDMI Forum Chairman

Version 2.1 of the HDMI Specification is backward compatible with earlier versions of the specification, and was developed by the HDMI Forum’s Technical Working Group whose members represent some of the world’s leading manufacturers of consumer electronics, personal computers, mobile devices, cables and components.

“This new release of the specification offers a broad range of advanced features for enhancing the consumer entertainment experience, as well as providing robust solutions to the commercial A/V sector,” says Robert Blanchard of Sony Electronics, president of the HDMI Forum. 

“This is part of the HDMI Forum’s continuing mission to develop specifications for the HDMI eco-system that meet the growing demand for compelling, high-performance and exciting features.”

Speaking exclusively with CE Pro, HDMI Forum Chairman Chris Pasqualino notes, "We have been working hard to get this 'bad boy' released. We have identified the five marquee features of the new spec."

Those are:

  • Higher Video Resolutions support a range of higher resolutions and faster refresh rates including 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz for immersive viewing and smooth fast-action detail.
  • Dynamic HDR ensures every moment of a video is displayed at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast, and wider color gamuts—on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.
  • 48G cables enable up to 48Gbps bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1 feature support including 8K video with HDR. The cable is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI Specification and can be used with existing HDMI devices.
  • eARC supports the most advanced audio formats such as object-based audio, and enables advanced audio signal control capabilities including device auto-detect.
  • Game Mode VRR features variable refresh rate, which enables a 3D graphics processor to display the image at the moment it is rendered for more fluid and better detailed gameplay, and for reducing or eliminating lag, stutter, and frame tearing.

What HDMI 2.1 Means for Integrators

The new specification, which is formally being announced at CES 2017, will be available to all HDMI 2.0 Adopters and they will be notified when it is released early in Q2 2017.

“We have no clear understanding of when products will be out.  Many of the HDMI Forum members have an early look at the spec so they may be working on products already,” says Pasqualino. “There will be a requirement for active cables after a certain length. I do not expect to see significant growth in the footprint of the cable. Connectors will be the same.”

Resolutions and refresh rates supported by the new HDMI 2.1 spec.

A compliance test is being developed. It is underway now but it will take about months to write it, says Pasqualino. Prior to the release of the compliance test, it will be up to the individual companies themselves to test their equipment to the spec. 

Rob Tobias, HDMI Licensing Administrator president, tells CE Pro that integrators can expect to see 8K prototypes from every TV manufacturer at CES 2017. He notes that there is not a strong push for 8K right now, except in Japan because that country wants to broadcast the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 8K. Tobias says the main focus among manufacturers is 4K and dynamic HDR and the higher frame rates in 4K, but he says he expects to see a push for 5K coming from the PC manufacturers. 5K is an even higher monitor resolution suited for gaming.

“There will be a requirement for active cables after a certain length. I do not expect to see significant growth in the footprint of the cable. Connectors will be the same.”
— Chris Pasqualino, HDMI Forum Chairman

For integrators and their clients, every piece of equipment in the ecosystem must be 2.1 for the customer to receive full 4K with HDR or 8K,a ccording to Pasqualino. "There is some margin in the system and the reliability will be good. There will be a short early adopter phase before we see a very quick ramp up to a stable ecosystem," he adds.

Tobias adds, "How an individual piece of equipment will meet the 2.1 standard will depend on the manufacturer and the features. Some manufacturers may be able to achieve 2.1 compliance with just a firmware upgrade; others will require new hardware," he says.  

Does 48G Cable Even Exist?

So while the parameters are set for HDMI 2.1 to handle 48Gbps, are there cables that even exist that can handle that bandwidth?

According to Pasqualino, there are some HDMI Forum members who are currently running lab tests to validate that 48G speed. 

"The compliance testing will check the speed when it is completed," he says. 

The HDMI Forum currently has a membership of 83 companies, and is actively inviting more companies to apply for membership and help shape the future of HDMI technology. There is also a focus to encourage more companies to participate as the global presence of HDMI-enabled products and solutions continues to grow.

“It is strategically important to take an active role in the development and innovation of technology which is central to global consumer entertainment and impacts the overall user experience. It is very important for our customers to enjoy video services on their PC’s, mobile, and consumer electronics devices,” says Joseph Frank technical manager of video devices at Comcast Cable. “That’s why Comcast Cable joined, and I strongly encourage others to contact the HDMI Forum to find out about membership details.”



  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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  Article Topics


Networking & Cables · HDMI · Audio/Video · Multiroom Video · Events · CES · News · HDMI · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by dmeyer_cedia on February 28, 2017

A word on copy protection - Blu-ray is protected on the disc by AACS, UHD Blu-ray by AACS2. HDCP is then used to protect the data during transmission, which could be applied to compressed or uncompressed data equally. All due respect but copy protection is not the issue.

HDMI have always focused on uncompressed transmission to ensure maximum quality and genuine real-time ZERO latency. A simple example is lip-sync between AVR and display. HEVC, as used on UHD Blu-ray, is onerous in its inherent latency. Sure we could just push out what’s on the disc (compressed), but it has to be decoded at the receiving side. Some vendors are claiming ‘low latency’ HEVC encoding/decoding, but if you read the fine print they say things like ‘sub-second’. 500ms would be considered very good.

And then there’s natively uncompressed sources like computer graphics & gaming. Subjecting them to compression encode-decode would slow things to unusable. Gamers cannot tolerate anything more than mere microseconds of latency.

I think the answer lies in exactly what HDMI are doing - stay uncompressed for the mission critical install layers like high end home theater and gaming. Then for distributed AV where performance is not as critical, plugging in to solutions like IP multicasting which do apply compression (eg; DSC, on-the-fly HEVC, JPEG2000 or the coming JPEG-XS), such as that proposed by the SDVoE, can provide an elegant compromise.

As for fiber, sure some cable can handle huge bandwidth and standards do change too often (I’ve long stated that “future-proof” means it should last until Christmas), but if you can handle the terminations there still remains the big issue of the serializer chips and opto-electric couplers. They’re expensive and not without their interoperability challenges.

We all wish there was an easy answer. But then if there was then consumers could do a lot of it themselves! Embrace it.

Posted by Robert Archer on January 10, 2017

If you would like to learn more about how to address the growing bandwidth requirements of copper, fiber and IP, check out the story CE Pro ran this past fall:
http://www.cepro.com/article/the_ugly_truth_about_ultra_hd_and_what_dealers_need_to_do_about_it

Posted by jbrown on January 9, 2017

@judds, and others ... how much do you know about fiber optics? Do you know that getting a really good connection requires a $15-20k core alignment fusion splicer? Did you know that if you were “ahead of the curve” and ran 62.5/125 multimode fiber 10-15 years ago that it is basically useless now? Did you know that if you ran 50/125 OM2 multimode fiber 5 years ago that it is also just about useless now? Fiber is no different than copper when it comes to obsolescence. It’s just more expensive, more fragile, less flexible, and harder to terminate.

We have run hundreds of thousands of feet of fiber at my office and let me tell you, it is NOT a cure all. Currently Crestron doesn’t even have a DM solution for 4K over fiber. So if you have Crestron DM fiber system in your house you’re waiting for a new product and hoping your integrator ran OM3 or better even though the original spec only needed OM2. And most 4K fiber HDMI cables cannot be field-terminated. The ones that can be terminated cost over $1200+ for ends plus the cost of the fiber. And that’s for the 18Gbps spec, not this 48Gbps nonsense.

I don’t know who told @Eyal that fiber can support 50K (assuming he means 50K pixels wide) but even OM4 multimode will be lucky to get beyond 8K on a long run with this 48Gbps spec. Realistically OM4 will support about 100Gbps at 100-150 meters. And running single mode fiber in a home is a whole other cost layer for hardware that is just not realistic for the residential space.

Posted by judds on January 9, 2017

I agree with Eyal Kattn; It’s time to adopt FO as a standard cabling. One time cable running in the walls will satisfy the bandwidth requirement for many years to come, not to mention other significant attributes. One may have to deal with different kind of termination over the time, but that isn’t much of a problem. You may also end up with the convenience of the latest “Bluetooth” technology for short distance transmissions.

Posted by jbrown on January 7, 2017

At what point do we as an industry file a class action lawsuit against the MPAA, the HDMI consortium and TV manufacturers?

The compressed data stored on a UHD 4K Blu-ray disc with HDR has a maximum spec of 128Mbps. Theorectically, when uncompressed, the data on that Blu-ray disc could max out an 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 connection (That’s over 18,000Mbps for the mathematically challenged). That is a factor of 140x.

If Hollywood would allow us to transmit the original compressed data around our houses, plain old unshielded 20-year-old Cat-5 would have enough bandwidth for one stream easily. Cat-5e would be able to do 3 or 4 streams, and a single Cat-6A would be able to carry 20+ streams. And these are 4K HDR streams that are way better than anything available on YouTube, Vudu, or Netflix. Full 4k Blu-ray quality.

Instead they make us transmit HDMI because it’s impractical to record. That’s all it is. Copy protection. Because they can’t figure out how to write a sufficient encryption method to protect their content they burden us and our customers with expensive cables that max out at 20-50 feet, equipment that becomes obsolete overnight, and onerous requirements to be able to watch a move in another room, or even in a large room if you have a projector.

This is out of control and it has to be stopped.

Posted by kipoca on January 5, 2017

Fiber for networking is cheap, fiber hdbaset is not.

Posted by Eyal Kattan on January 4, 2017

Kipoca,  we’ve been using fiber in networking for many years.  The equipment is not expensive at all.

HDBaseT is already running on CAT6 and Fiber is used to connect 2 or more switches.  We only use Hdmi in the last 3 ft but we shouldn’t really, if the manufacturers will start implementing different interface,  I. e RJ45 or Fiber

Posted by kipoca on January 4, 2017

Eyal, the problem is not the cable (though there is a problem there), the problem is the electronics required to transmit and receive. The Aurora cables from Tributaries are fiber, but the connections are much larger than normal, and requires 5V power at both ends. Pre-terminated cables are also tough to use in structured wiring situations, which means terminating fiber (expensive install kits) and using fiber transmission kits, which is also expensive.

The cable part of it is bend radius. Can’t just hire some guy to pull wires through a house, they have to know the tolerances of fiber.

Posted by Eyal Kattan on January 4, 2017

Just wondering when this industry will catch up with fiber.  It’s 1/5 of the thickness,  can transfer 100 times more data,  to much longer distances -  which means it can support even 50k when it becomes available…. And The specs and wires don’t have to be changed that often.

Posted by kipoca on January 4, 2017

Shielded cables up to 4 meters, fiber above.

View all comments.

Posted by John Nemesh on January 4, 2017

Fun!  We are struggling to find cables that handle “only” 18Gbps right now in lengths over 20 ft…now they want us to use cables that handle 48!  I am guessing that all HDMI cables will have to abandon copper completely at some point and go pure fiber to handle that kind of bandwidth. Either that or be limited to 6 ft cables…

Posted by qubit88 on January 4, 2017

I’d like to see this cable, I wonder how thick it will be if copper is to be used. If so, then I would reckon that the length is limited to under 2-3 meters at best. Longer lengths will definitely be fiber because at 48gbps fiber is the smart choice anyways.

Posted by kipoca on January 4, 2017

Shielded cables up to 4 meters, fiber above.

Posted by Eyal Kattan on January 4, 2017

Just wondering when this industry will catch up with fiber.  It’s 1/5 of the thickness,  can transfer 100 times more data,  to much longer distances -  which means it can support even 50k when it becomes available…. And The specs and wires don’t have to be changed that often.

Posted by kipoca on January 4, 2017

Eyal, the problem is not the cable (though there is a problem there), the problem is the electronics required to transmit and receive. The Aurora cables from Tributaries are fiber, but the connections are much larger than normal, and requires 5V power at both ends. Pre-terminated cables are also tough to use in structured wiring situations, which means terminating fiber (expensive install kits) and using fiber transmission kits, which is also expensive.

The cable part of it is bend radius. Can’t just hire some guy to pull wires through a house, they have to know the tolerances of fiber.

Posted by Eyal Kattan on January 4, 2017

Kipoca,  we’ve been using fiber in networking for many years.  The equipment is not expensive at all.

HDBaseT is already running on CAT6 and Fiber is used to connect 2 or more switches.  We only use Hdmi in the last 3 ft but we shouldn’t really, if the manufacturers will start implementing different interface,  I. e RJ45 or Fiber

Posted by kipoca on January 5, 2017

Fiber for networking is cheap, fiber hdbaset is not.

Posted by jbrown on January 7, 2017

At what point do we as an industry file a class action lawsuit against the MPAA, the HDMI consortium and TV manufacturers?

The compressed data stored on a UHD 4K Blu-ray disc with HDR has a maximum spec of 128Mbps. Theorectically, when uncompressed, the data on that Blu-ray disc could max out an 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 connection (That’s over 18,000Mbps for the mathematically challenged). That is a factor of 140x.

If Hollywood would allow us to transmit the original compressed data around our houses, plain old unshielded 20-year-old Cat-5 would have enough bandwidth for one stream easily. Cat-5e would be able to do 3 or 4 streams, and a single Cat-6A would be able to carry 20+ streams. And these are 4K HDR streams that are way better than anything available on YouTube, Vudu, or Netflix. Full 4k Blu-ray quality.

Instead they make us transmit HDMI because it’s impractical to record. That’s all it is. Copy protection. Because they can’t figure out how to write a sufficient encryption method to protect their content they burden us and our customers with expensive cables that max out at 20-50 feet, equipment that becomes obsolete overnight, and onerous requirements to be able to watch a move in another room, or even in a large room if you have a projector.

This is out of control and it has to be stopped.

Posted by judds on January 9, 2017

I agree with Eyal Kattn; It’s time to adopt FO as a standard cabling. One time cable running in the walls will satisfy the bandwidth requirement for many years to come, not to mention other significant attributes. One may have to deal with different kind of termination over the time, but that isn’t much of a problem. You may also end up with the convenience of the latest “Bluetooth” technology for short distance transmissions.

Posted by jbrown on January 9, 2017

@judds, and others ... how much do you know about fiber optics? Do you know that getting a really good connection requires a $15-20k core alignment fusion splicer? Did you know that if you were “ahead of the curve” and ran 62.5/125 multimode fiber 10-15 years ago that it is basically useless now? Did you know that if you ran 50/125 OM2 multimode fiber 5 years ago that it is also just about useless now? Fiber is no different than copper when it comes to obsolescence. It’s just more expensive, more fragile, less flexible, and harder to terminate.

We have run hundreds of thousands of feet of fiber at my office and let me tell you, it is NOT a cure all. Currently Crestron doesn’t even have a DM solution for 4K over fiber. So if you have Crestron DM fiber system in your house you’re waiting for a new product and hoping your integrator ran OM3 or better even though the original spec only needed OM2. And most 4K fiber HDMI cables cannot be field-terminated. The ones that can be terminated cost over $1200+ for ends plus the cost of the fiber. And that’s for the 18Gbps spec, not this 48Gbps nonsense.

I don’t know who told @Eyal that fiber can support 50K (assuming he means 50K pixels wide) but even OM4 multimode will be lucky to get beyond 8K on a long run with this 48Gbps spec. Realistically OM4 will support about 100Gbps at 100-150 meters. And running single mode fiber in a home is a whole other cost layer for hardware that is just not realistic for the residential space.

View all comments.