Unearthing New HDMI Facts, Real-World Answers

Jeff Boccaccio, president of DPL Labs, looks back on the year, including a new testing process for 4K and HDR.

Jeff Boccaccio

This year will go down as DPL’s biggest for technological advancements in projecting potential issues for future digital HD reproduction. Due to new revisions and a fast track to production to support these new features, an aggressive effort to design new test procedures became crucial.

The support from our test equipment partners, manufacturers, and integrators provided DPL with the input and tools to initiate a new testing process for 4K and HDR in January. DPL also began R&D to not only examine cables but also electronics, slated to begin Q1 2016.

Steps were taken to not only add in the high-bandwidth tests required for 4K and HDR but to include these results within our original test matrix. Incorporating the new data exposed details that helped define new performance limits and how they may interact with our testing algorithms.

One in particular was the interaction between source and display electronics with the currently available transmission lines capable of supporting 18Gbps content. A marriage between equipment and procedures allowed DPL to emulate field applications rather than common lab results that may not paint the entire picture (no pun intended). Although the discovery process is new and exciting it also provided an elevated sense of importance regarding entire systems’ integrity.

Being an independent testing lab provides the latitude into an abstract thinking process that yields a wealth of information. The results are then shared with you via this column, webcasts, and live events all over the world.

Here is just one example of how out-of-the-box thinking and incorporating abstract testing methodology paid off. Remember “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO)? This may become a bigger player. System operation depends on all products’ integrity such as cable, source and display devices. Each can influence the system both from signal and electrical levels. They all support a piece of a video puzzle that has to work in harmony with one another when processing AC signals, direct current, logic, shielding, and even finite timing. These can develop into problems that may not be realized or discovered for weeks, months, and even years after the job is completed.

Let’s use the basic task of moving video data. We all should have learned by now that as bandwidth expands, the signal integrity tracks inversely to the bandwidth. The higher the frequency or data rate, the more loss you should expect.

However, if we use GIGO some troubleshooting techniques may change. Each product has one major function, and something has to go in and something has to come out. If we begin with any garbage we more than likely will end up with that garbage coming out plus any other contaminants generated by each device. Even displays can exhibit responses. The illustrations show this. There are three inputs to the display with one output to the electronics. Each input has its own integrity along with inherent noise (garbage). The same holds true when considering the entire system. They all have some kind of I/O.

By being able to detect what is coming in and what is going out at each point provides us the ability to rate and score each I/O. Using our display example, one input may favor features that others do not. And one input may have better integrity than others. The differences in performance can be measured and reported. Now before you start a project you can select the proper hardware and best I/O configuration.

This is huge! Now for the first time we will be able to predict and match all the I/O’s reducing this risk of mismatch while pushing us further away from “plug and pray” design