Some love it others loath it but despite what you think more than 340 Million people are now using HDMI connectivity as their preferred connection technology. More than 394 million HDMI-enabled devices will ship in 2009 claims the HDMI Licensing organisation creating an installed base of 1 billion devices, says In-Stat. But the successful HDMI standard is about to be upgraded to Version 1.4.
The HDMI spec is chasing added functionality by consumer electronics and PC makers. Says Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing LLC, “The 1.4 specification will support some of the most exciting and powerful near-term innovations such as Ethernet connectivity and 3D formats. Additionally we are going to broaden our solution by providing a smaller connector for portable devices and a connection system specified for automobiles, as we see both more and different devices adopting the HDMI technology.”
You can expect to see new HDMI 1.4 cables when new HDMI 1.4 devices become available. Here are some of the most notable new features:
• Standard HDMI Cable – supports data rates up to 1080i/60
• High Speed HDMI Cable – supports data rates beyond 1080p, including Deep Color and all 3D formats of the new 1.4 spec
• Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet
• High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
• Automotive HDMI Cable – to connect external HDMI-enabled devices to an in-vehicle HDMI device
The HDMI 1.4 spec will add a data channel to the HDMI cable to enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices with this feature can send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet (making them instantly ready for any IP-based application).
The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature allows HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices, too.
The new version will add an Audio Return Channel to reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving AV content, the Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the AV receiver over the HDMI cable (eliminates need for an extra cable).
The new 1.4 version defines common 3D formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices. For 3D Over HDMI , the spec will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.
HDMI devices will be able to support HD resolutions at 4X the resolution of 1080p. Support for 4K x 2K lets the HDMI interface transmit content at the same resolution as many digital theaters. Formats supported include:
• 3840×2160 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz
• 4096×2160 24Hz
Other enhanced functionalities in the spec include:
• expanded support for color spaces specifically for digital still cameras, including YCC601, Adobe RGB and AdobeYCC601
• a Micro HDMI 19-pin connector supporting up to 1080p resolutions for portable devices and about 50% smaller than the extant HDMI Micro Connector
• an Automotive Connection System cabling spec for in-vehicle HD content distribution, (specified resistance levels to heat, vibration and noise)
HDMI devices are manufactured to adhere to various versions of the specification, in which each version is given a number, such as 1.0, 1.2, or 1.3a. Each subsequent version of the specification uses the same kind of cable but increases the bandwidth and/or capabilities of what can be transmitted over the cable. A product listed as having an HDMI version does not necessarily mean that it will have all of the features that are listed for that version, since some HDMI features are optional, such as Deep Color and xvYCC (which is branded by Sony as “x.v.Color“).
Version 1.0 to 1.2
HDMI 1.0 was released December 9, 2002 and is a single-cable digital audio/video connector interface with a maximum TMDS bandwidth of 4.9 Gbit/s. It supports up to 3.96 Gbit/s of video bandwidth (1080p/60 Hz or UXGA) and 8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio. HDMI 1.1 was released on May 20, 2004 and added support for DVD Audio. HDMI 1.2 was released August 8, 2005 and added support for One Bit Audio, used on Super Audio CDs, at up to 8 channels. It also added the availability of HDMI Type A connectors for PC sources, the ability for PC sources to only support the sRGB color space while retaining the option to support the YCbCr color space, and required HDMI 1.2 and later displays to support low-voltage sources. HDMI 1.2a was released on December 14, 2005 and fully specifies Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) features, command sets, and CEC compliance tests.
HDMI 1.3 was released June 22, 2006 and increased the single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbit/s). It optionally supports Deep Color, with 30-bit, 36-bit, and 48-bit xvYCC, sRGB, or YCbCr, compared to 24-bit sRGB or YCbCr in previous HDMI versions. It also optionally supports output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams for external decoding by AV receivers. It incorporates automatic audio syncing (audio video sync) capability. It defined cable Categories 1 and 2, with Category 1 cable being tested up to 74.25 MHz and Category 2 being tested up to 340 MHz. It also added the new Type C miniconnector for portable devices. HDMI 1.3a was released on November 10, 2006 and had Cable and Sink modifications for Type C, source termination recommendations, and removed undershoot and maximum rise/fall time limits. It also changed CEC capacitance limits, clarified sRGB video quantization range, and CEC commands for timer control were brought back in an altered form, with audio control commands added. HDMI 1.3b was released on March 26, 2007 and added HDMI compliance testing revisions. HDMI 1.3b has no effect on HDMI features, functions, or performance, since the testing is for products based on the HDMI 1.3a specification. HDMI 1.3b1 was released on November 9, 2007 and added HDMI compliance testing revisions, which added testing requirements for the HDMI Type C miniconnector. HDMI 1.3b1 has no effect on HDMI features, functions, or performance, since the testing is for products based on the HDMI 1.3a specification. HDMI 1.3c was released on August 25, 2008 and added HDMI compliance testing revisions, which changed testing requirements for active HDMI cables. HDMI 1.3c has no effect on HDMI features, functions, or performance, since the testing is for products based on the HDMI 1.3a specification.
HDMI 1.4 was released on May 28, 2009, and Silicon Image expects their first HDMI 1.4 products to sample in the second half of 2009. HDMI 1.4 increases the maximum resolution to 4K × 2K (3840×2160p at 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz and 4096×2160p at 24Hz, which is a resolution used with digital theaters); an HDMI Ethernet Channel, which allows for a 100 Mb/s Ethernet connection between the two HDMI connected devices; and introduces an Audio Return Channel, 3D Over HDMI, a new Micro HDMI Connector, expanded support for color spaces, and an Automotive Connection System.
Note that a given product may choose to implement a subset of the given HDMI version. Certain features such as Deep Color and xvYCC support are optional.
|Maximum signal bandwidth (MHz)||165||340||340|
|Maximum TMDS bandwidth (Gbit/s)||4.95||10.2||10.2|
|Maximum video bandwidth (Gbit/s)||3.96||8.16||8.16|
|Maximum audio bandwidth (Mbit/s)||36.86||36.86||36.86|
|Maximum color depth (bit/px)||24||48[A]||48|
|Maximum resolution over single link at 24-bit/px[B]||1920×1200p60||2560×1600p75||4096×2160p24|
|Maximum resolution over single link at 30-bit/px[C]||2560×1600p60||4096×2160p24|
|Maximum resolution over single link at 36-bit/px[D]||1920×1200p75||4096×2160p24|
|Maximum resolution over single link at 48-bit/px[E]||1920×1200p60||1920×1200p60|
|8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio capability|
|Blu-ray Disc video and audio at full resolution[F]|
|Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)[G]|
|DVD Audio support|
|Super Audio CD (DSD) support[H]|
|Dolby TrueHD bitstream capable|
|DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable|
|Updated list of CEC commands|
|Audio Return Channel|
|3D Over HDMI|
|4K x 2K Resolution Support|
- A 36-bit support is mandatory for Deep Color compatible CE devices, with 48-bit support being optional.
- B Maximum resolution is based on CVT-RB, which is a VESA standard for non-CRT-based displays. Using CVT-RB 1920×1200 would have a video bandwidth of 3.69 Gbit/s, and 2560×1600 would have a video bandwidth of 8.12 Gbit/s.
- C Using CVT-RB would have a video bandwidth of 8.12 Gbit/s.
- D Using CVT-RB would have a video bandwidth of 7.91 Gbit/s.
- E Using CVT-RB would have a video bandwidth of 7.39 Gbit/s.
- F Even for a compressed audio codec that a given HDMI version cannot transport, the source device may be able to decode the audio codec and transmit the audio as uncompressed LPCM.
- G CEC has been in the HDMI specification since version 1.0, but only began to be used in CE products with HDMI version 1.3a.
- H Playback of SACD may be possible for older HDMI versions if the source device (such as the Oppo 970) converts to LPCM.
- I Large number of additions and clarifications for CEC commands. One addition is CEC command, allowing for volume control of an AV receiver.
Sony’s New Blu-ray Player Promises to Enhance the Cinematic Experience
The latest Sony Blu-ray player BDP-S360 is endowed with numerous functional features designed to enhance the cinematic experience in your home.
Sony Singapore unveils its latest Blu-ray player for home cinema enthusiasts who are seeking an unforgettable cinematic experience. Incorporating the latest in cutting-edge technology, the BDP-S360 delivers pristine 1920 x 1080p picture quality, with full 7.1ch surround sound through a compatible AV receiver.
By offering consumers the opportunity to immerse in the exciting world of BD-Live, the BDP-S360 takes interactive entertainment to the next level. This feature continues to break new ground by allowing movie lovers to download and stream bonus content such as additional scenes, trailers and movie-based games. The BDP-S360’s built-in USB port means that exclusive additional content can also be downloaded from special websites dedicated to movies boasting these features and saved onto an optional USB flash storage device.
“The BDP-S360 forms the gateway to a whole new world where movies are a total immersive experience. The BDP-S360 combines ease of use with a sleek product design and high-class performance features and is perfect for every consumer making the switch from DVD to Blu-ray,” says Mr. Takeo Kobayashi, Managing Director of Sony Singapore. “This new model shows Sony’s full commitment to the constant development of our Blu-ray hardware and software range to ensure that we are on top of the latest format advancements.”
Sony’s new Blu-ray player: BDP-S360
Consumers will be pleased to know that their existing DVD movie libraries will be given a new lease of life with the BDP-S360. Equipped with Sony’s Precision Cinema HD Upscale technology, the BDP-S360 can convert standard definition signals to 1080p; providing a near high definition picture via High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) so that users can enjoy their favourite films in a whole new way.
With its Quick Start Up mode, the BDP-S360 allows users to boot up their Blu-ray player in just six seconds, a speed that is unrivalled in the market today. Its BRAVIA Sync technology enables users to control the player, BRAVIA TV and home theatre system with just one remote control, allowing users to switch all three products with the touch of a single button. Also included is the added functionality of Bonus View, providing Picture-in-Picture capability with certain titles, so users can watch that insightful director’s commentary in real-time alongside the main movie in stunning HD quality.
Additionally, the BDP-S360 adds Sony’s Precision Drive technology, which helps to detect and correct wobbling discs from three directions, supporting stabilisation of the playback of bent or scratched Blu-ray Discs and DVDs. It also supports Deep Colour video output and AVCHD discs encoded with x.v.Color (xvYCC) technology.
The BDP-S360 also includes those features users have come to love in Sony’s Blu-ray range. With 24p True Cinema for cinematic picture quality, users are able to experience movies exactly as the director intended them to. With Xross Media BarTM, featuring simple and intuitive navigation between menus, the user experience is enhanced.
How the designers of the HDMI standard screwed up, and what’s to be done about it.
HDMI, as we’ve pointed out elsewhere, is a format which was designed primarily to serve the interests of the content-provider industries, not to serve the interests of the consumer. The result is a mess, and in particular, the signal is quite hard to route and switch, cable assemblies are unnecessarily complicated, and distance runs are chancy. Why is this, and what did the designers of the standard do wrong? And what can we do about it?
The story begins with another badly-developed standard, DVI. A few years ago, there was a movement within the computer industry to develop a new digital video display standard to replace the traditional analog VGA/RGBHV arrangement still found on most computer video cards and monitors. Interested parties grouped together to form the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG), which developed the DVI standard.
DVI had all the earmarks of a standard designed by committee, and it remains one of the most confusing video interfaces ever. DVI could run analog signals, digital signals, or both, and it could run digital signals either in a single-link configuration (in a cable using four twisted pairs for the signal), or in a dual-link configuration (using seven). Identifying which DVI standard or standards any particular device supported was not always easy, and the DVI connector came in various flavors and was never really manufactured in any form that wasn’t well-nigh impossible to terminate.
But the worst thing about DVI was something that the computer-display professionals involved in its development really didn’t give much thought to: distance runs. Most computer displays are mounted at most a few feet away from the CPU, so it didn’t seem imperative that DVI work well over distance. This lack of concern for function at a distance, coupled with common use of twisted-pair cable (e.g., CAT 5) in computer interconnection, led to a decision that DVI would be run in twisted-pair cable.
Had the DVI standard been designed by broadcast engineers rather than computer engineers, things probably would have turned out very differently. In the broadcast world, everything from lowly composite video to High-Definition Serial Digital Video is run in coaxial cables, and for good reasons, which we’ll get to in a bit. Long-distance runs of VGA, in fact, are always handled in coaxial cable (though there may be a number of miniature coaxes in a small bundle, rather than something which obviously appears to be coax).
DVI lacked a couple of things which the consumer audio/video industry wanted. It was implemented on a variety of HD displays and source devices, but it was confusing for the consumer because of the many variants on the standard and different connector configurations, and it didn’t carry audio signals. A consortium to develop and promote a new interface, HDMI, was formed; the idea was to come up with a standard which could be implemented more uniformly, was less confusing, and offered the option of routing audio signals along with video.
Here, again, was an opportunity to avoid problems. The difficulties of running DVI-D signals over long distances were well known, and the mistakes of the past could have been avoided by developing HDMI as a wholly new standard, independent of DVI. Instead, the HDMI group elected to modify the DVI standard, using the same encoding scheme and the same basic interface design, but adding embedded audio and designing a new plug. Instead of many DVI options, analog, digital, single and dual link, there was one “flavor” of HDMI (actually, there is also a dual-link version in the HDMI spec–but you won’t find it implemented on any currently available device). This provided the advantage of making HDMI backward-compatible with some existing DVI hardware, but it locked the interface into the electrical requirements of the DVI interface. Specifically, that means that the signals have to be run balanced, on 100 ohm impedance twisted pairs.
We’re often asked why that’s so bad. After all, CAT 5 cable can run high-speed data from point to point very reliably–why can’t one count on twisted-pair cable to do a good job with digital video signals as well? And what makes coax so great for that type of application?
First, it’s important to understand that a lot of other protocols which run over twisted-pair wire are two-way communications with error correction. A packet that doesn’t arrive on a computer network connection can be re-sent; an HDMI or DVI signal is a real-time, one-way stream of pixels that doesn’t stop, doesn’t error-check, and doesn’t repair its mistakes–it just runs and runs, regardless of what’s happening at the other end of the signal chain.
Second, HDMI runs fast–at 1080p, the rate is around 150 Megapixels/second. CAT5, by contrast, is rated at 100 megabits per second–and that’s bits, not pixels.
Third, HDMI runs parallel, not serially. There are three color signals riding on three pairs, with a clock circuit running on the fourth. These signals can’t fall out of time with one another, or with the clock, without trouble–and the faster the bitrate, the shorter the bits are, and consequently the tighter the time window becomes for each bit to be registered.
Consider, by contrast, what the broadcast world did when it needed to route digital video from