HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is the most popular medium for transporting both audio and video information between two digital devices. In the past two decades, HDMI technology has evolved from HDMI 1.0 to HDMI 2.0. In 2017 HDMI 2.1 introduced enhanced gaming and media features such as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) to eliminate lag, stutter, and tearing, adding smoothness to the gaming and video experience. Recently the HDMI Forum has announced a new version, HDMI2.1a, that brings a standout gamer-friendly feature, Source-Based Tone Mapping (SBTM).
With the release of HDMI 2.1, higher video resolutions and refresh rates including 8K@60Hz and 4K@120Hz are a reality. In a previous blog, 10K Resolution at 120Hz Display: A Reality Today with DSC 1.2 in HDMI 2.1, we explained how HDMI 2.1 can support resolutions and refresh rates of the order 4K@240Hz, 8K@120Hz and 10K@120Hz with display stream compression (DSC). With increased resolution you get finer details and with higher refresh rate the moving content feels smoother. But it also means more pixel information and thus higher data transmission rate, higher bandwidth, and higher power consumption. What if there is a way to reduce the transmission rate while keeping the resolution and refresh rate intact? The answer lies in the reduced blanking feature in which the blanking region of a frame is reduced significantly.
Lately television lovers across the world have an even better reason to be glued to the small screens, as 8K Ultra HD TVs have made their way to the market. The HDMI forums most recently released specification, v2.1, explains “higher video resolutions support a range of high resolutions and faster refresh rates including 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz for immersive viewing and smooth fast-action detail…” Most of us are familiar with the word “resolution”, but do we really know this term well?
HDMI ARC, What is it and Why You Should Care?
The demand for higher resolution displays is exploding across the market segments from electronics like television, monitors, laptops, and smartphones to the emerging technologies like video and vision, automotive, and AR/VR. The bandwidth requirement for displays increases multi-fold with higher resolution which has been the main driver for development of the latest DisplayPort 2.0 specification by VESA.
The latest buzzword in the world of TVs and smartphones is High Dynamic Range (HDR). Many of us might already know that an HDR TV improves the viewing experience by offering better picture quality, just like people who use the latest smartphones know that turning on the HDR mode in the camera helps in capturing more lively pictures. In November 2017, the HDMI forum officially released HDMI 2.1 adding more to our joy, by offering the new and improved HDR. The announcement goes on to say “Dynamic HDR support 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”. Before we explore HDR and Dynamic HDR in detail, let’s first understand how Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) works.
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HDMI 2.1/2.0 bring significant improvements over previous versions in terms of speed, data integrity, and mode of data transmission. For more details on how HDMI has evolved, read our previous blog – HDMI 1.4 to 2.1: How it Became the Most Popular Display Interface.
DSC has enabled the use of high resolution displays in televisions, PC monitors, mobiles, and automotive infotainment systems. It provides a high quality, low latency algorithm to resolve the bottleneck of high bandwidth requirements needed to support the high resolution.