DPL Labs: HDMI Rev 2.1 Has Phones Ringing Off the Hook

DPL Labs shares the reaction it’s heard from integrators, manufacturers and retailers about the latest HDMI revision.

Jeff Boccaccio

Our phones are ringing off the hook from all points within the industry asking, stating, suggesting, and yes, complaining about this whopping HDMI revision.

Although many were not overly thrilled about the announcement, it provided for some healthy discussions and constructive arguments about stimulating the growth of our industry.

On the technical side, DPL will continue to share the know-how and support the field work. But that doesn’t help us with the mind set of all the players in this electronic sandbox we live in.

Using what we now know about Rev 2.1 along with the input from others we were able to put together a reasonable sampling of how most of the players will be dealing with this disruption. We know bandwidth is going through the roof and that the transmission line will need even more throughput; and in the case of copper, having to squeeze every molecule of signal out of it. We also know it must be backwards compatible. Of course, history as told us that products won’t necessarily play well together.

So what was the reaction we’ve heard?

From Integrators

A fair amount of the integrators were somewhat scared since, historically, when changes this large took place, it put them in a hard spot with customers that consider them the experts and rely heavily on their judgement.

[HDMI Group] must be just as proactive keeping ahead of technology as others. … with aggressive R&D to design new technologies
for an even better video experience. There’s nothing wrong with that.

One integrator mentioned that trying to guide his customers with little to no real knowledge was extremely risky.

Asking to elaborate, he pointed to the confusion over 4K@60 and its limitations under Rev 2.0.

Rev 2.0 was an expansion project that started off slow running at 4K@60 and operating under 10.2Gbps, the older 1.4 standard. He later learned it was only stage one to an 18Gbps rollout that he thought he was already in.

He wasn’t alone and it was not only due to a lack of content but lack of knowledge and understanding.

From Retail and Sales

When anything “new” comes along, it is the hottest thing to sell and talk about. Even though the content can’t be delivered, consumers will want it anyway and if the seller can’t provide it the customer will just go somewhere else. Now the sales side reaches out to manufacturers begging for the product. The manufacturer is in the same boat competing with other manufacturers.

This is the natural progression of doing good business. It is called “demand” and as an industry that thrives on new technology and innovation, it can jeopardize current sales to the “let’s-wait-and-see” attitude for newer products.

From Manufacturers

They are in a tougher place since manufacturers will tend to go to any means to stay ahead of their competition. If done prematurely, this could spell doom to the company with the first generation of products.

We felt for many of these firms at CES, where many companies were so proud to finally show their first full 18Gbps products — and on the first day of the show a new revision is announced.

From Test and Measurement Agencies

Test equipment, software, procedures, processes and rules now must be modified. These types of devices don’t grow on trees.

In DPL’s case, for instance, we have specialized test procedures that are somewhat esoteric compared to normal testing procedures. This means customized fixtures, software, hardware, case studies and methodologies are affected.

From the HDMI Group

Who can blame them? They must be just as proactive keeping ahead of technology as others.

There are other transmission systems that would love to take this on, so HDMI must stay ahead of the curve, with an aggressive R&D to design new technologies for an even better video experience. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Where Does This Lead Us?

We think much of the confusion and concern can be circumvented by simply instituting a stronger outreach program from controlling organizations to the general industry.

It would stimulate and unify the consumer electronics industry providing seamless transitions as new technologies become available.