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Out With the Old HDMI, in With the New

version of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface? Well here's a tip: It's time to start boning up on that specification's successor.

Finally got your head around HDMI 1.3, the "new" version of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface? Well here's a tip: It's time to start boning up on that specification's successor.

Credit: DH Labs

Late last month, HDMI Licensing, which is responsible for the HDMI standard, previewed the features that would be incorporated into the latest flavor of HDMI, version 1.4. The new spec was scheduled to be available for download by the end of June 2009 at www.hdmi.org. The biggest changes? HDMI 1.4 will incorporate Ethernet connectivity and a way to allow for upstream audio connections via the HDMI cable.

"Our industry is just coming to grips with the HDMI interface, which is now migrating from the consumer world to a wide range of display and interfacing products for the pro AV channel," says Pete Putman, Pro AV columnist and editor of HDTVexpert.com. "It figures that the new standard (1.4) adds more functionality, which would appeal to customers, but will give fits to designers who are only now resolving thorny EDID issues with switchers, video mixers, and distribution amplifiers."

Inside HDMI 1.4

Among other things, HDMI 1.4 will bring a smaller, 19-pin micro connector that still supports 1080p. Here's a rundown of other new features in HDMI 1.4, according to the HDMI Licensing group:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel. With a new data channel in the HDMI cable, an Internet-enabled HDMI device can share its Internet connection with other devices without needing an Ethernet cable. The spec supports up to 100 Mbps in both directions.
  • Audio Return Channel. This channel should reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. Where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new channel allows them to send the audio stream to an AV receiver over the HDMI cable.
  • 3D Over HDMI. Version 1.4 will reportedly define common 3D formats and resolutions, and standardize the input/output portion of a 3D system, specifying up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.
  • 4K Resolution Support. There's not a lot of 4K content out there yet, but support for 4K means handling 3840x2160 @ 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz and 4096x2160 @ 24Hz.
  • Expanded Support For Color Spaces. HDMI currently supports color spaces for digital still cameras. Adding support for sYCC601, Adobe RGB, and AdobeYCC601, should mean more accurate life-like colors, according to the group.

"The addition of a dedicated Ethernet channel is a nice thing to have, but it remains to be seen what value a digital audio return channel will bring to future installations," says Putman. "The new, smaller connector design may prove to be useful, but what HDMI really needs is a more secure locking connector–something only a handful of aftermarket suppliers have introduced."



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