Every TV sold today comes with at least one but usually three or four HDMI connectors. Today, we are using HDMI 1.4 that supports Full HD and 3D. The next generation of HDMI will be called HDMI 2.0 and will support Ultra HD / 4K and more. Here is what we know about HDMI 2.0 so far.
HDMI 2.0 - what we know so far
Since the birth of flat panel TVs, HDMI has been the preferred interface for connecting players, game consoles and other devices to the TV screen. Since 2006 we have been running on the HDMI 1.3 standard and a few years ago HDMI 1.4 started being implemented in some TVs, but typically only in a single HDMI port of the three to four available.
Ultra HD is coming with 4K resolution, higher frame rates, and better color depth so there is need for an updated HDMI standard to make it all possible. This is where HDMI 2.0 comes into the picture. Not all details of HDMI 2.0 have emerged but we know for sure that it will support 4K resolution (both 3840x2160 and 4096x2160 pixels) in up to 60 fps (frames per second) at 24-bit colors. There is chatter that it will also include improved 3D, support for more than 8 audio channels, support for the 21:9 format, improved audio sync, and improved HDMI CEC.
The HDMI standard has not been updated for years but HDMI 2.0 is coming soon. The connector is expected to remain unchanged
However, what remains unclear is whether HDMI 2.0 will also support things like 120 fps, up to 36-bit color depth, and 3D in 4K resolution. It is reported that HDMI 2.0 will almost double the available bandwidth in cables from around 10 Gbit/s in HDMI 1.4 to 18 Gbit/s in HDMI 2.0 but that might still be too low to support the full palette.
Until the HDMI group starts talking we will remain in the dark. During CES 2012 in January 2012, the HDMI group told us to expect something in the second half of 2012. In January 2013, they told us to expect something in the first half of 2013, but as you know that deadline has already passed in the calendar. There is some speculation that the delay is due to HDMI 2.0 becoming even more capable than first thought.
Still, we hear that the HDMI 2.0 announcement is coming soon, maybe even before the end of August. If that happens we will probably hear much more at the IFA 2013 show in Berlin in early September.
DisplayPort and Thunderbolt
HDMI is not alone, even though no other ports have been widely adopted. Many buyers have pressed TV makers to include at least one DisplayPort connector in its flat panel TVs in recent years but nothing has happened. DisplayPort 1.2 already supports 4K resolution at 60 fps with 30-bit colors – and has since 2009. DIsplayPort 1.2 can move 21.6 Gbit/s, which is higher than what HDMI 2.0 will offer.
DisplayPort is also free to use for electronics manufacturers as opposed to HDMI that costs a yearly fee of $10,000 plus $0.04 per unit sold.
Thunderbolt will soon support 4K video and could challenge HDMI
Similarly, the Thunderbolt standard exists, which is actually based, in part, on DisplayPort. Thunderbolt was recently upgraded to version 2.0, which added support for 4K resolution in up to 60 fps. Thunderbolt can transfer 20 Gbit/s and is not only reserved for video signals but can also transfer data. If Intel and Apple decide to enter the TV arena – both are rumored to do so – Thunderbolt could very well be adopted.