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HDMI 2.1 spec released, ushering in new epoch of energetic HDR video

Back in January, the HDMI Forum—the trade organisation that develops the HDMI spec for video interconnects—outlined its plans for HDMI 2.1. That selection has now been finalized, giving a decisive perspective of what’s in store for the video hardware.

In annoy of a chronicle series that suggests it’s only a teenager update, the spec represents a poignant step up from HDMI 2.0. Underpinning all is a new cable, the Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable, that supports information send rates of 48 gigabits per second. The new cables are back concordant with older HDMI specs—they use the same tangible plugs and sockets—but support almost faster connectors than the 18Gb/s of HDMI 2.0, let alone the 10.2Gb/s of HDMI 1.4.

What can you do with all that bandwidth? More resolution, aloft support rates, and some-more tone depth. With the new cabling, HDMI can support uncompressed 4K video at up to 120 frames per second, with high energetic operation tone with up to 12 pieces per channel. Cut back in one or some-more areas and you can pull serve in others; extent your framerate to 30fps, and the spec will support uncompressed 8K 12-bit video; use chroma subsampling and it can hit 60fps at the same fortitude and tone depth.

HDMI 2.1 also allows video streams to go over the 48Gb/s extent with a new underline called Display Stream Compression. This underline compresses the video stream on the fly, permitting for notional information rates of up to 128Gb/s, for chroma subsampled 120fps 12-bit HDR 8K video. And if 8K isn’t adequate pixels for you, there are a series of 10K formats upheld for a 10,240×4,320 resolution, dictated for specialized blurb applications.


Beyond the tender information rates, HDMI 2.1 also brings some additional features. Gamers will be meddlesome in Variable Refresh Rate—essentially a standardised chronicle of Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s Freesync (which is itself a standardised underline of the DisplayPort tie standard), which alters the modernise rate on the fly to compare the rate at which frames are constructed by the GPU—and Quick Frame Transport, which somehow reduces the latency of the HDMI connection.

For cinephiles, High Dynamic Range (HDR) allows the display to change its contrariety and liughtness on a frame-by-frame basis, and extended Audio Return Channel (eARC) ups audio support to uncompressed 7.1 and high bitrate positional audio systems such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Even with the spec complete, it’s going to be a while before we actually see HDMI 2.1 hardware on the market. Over the next 9 months, the HDMI Forum will recover correspondence tests, and only then would we design to see it turn accessible in shipping products. The operation of new facilities means it’s in some ways a churned bag; few of us will feel any dire need to upgrade to 8K and 10K video—even for 4K, the calm ecosystem is in its infancy—but certain audiences would see evident advantages from VRR and QFT, given video cards and monitors that support them.

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