MHL was introduced in 2010 as a standard for mobile phones, but a new version dubbed superMHL leaves behind its legacy and moves into TV territory. You can expect to see actual superMHL cables in the near future that will support up to 8K resolution at 120fps.
SuperMHL with 4K and 8K support
Apparently unsatisfied with HDMI 2.0, TV manufacturers have turned to the MHL consortium for a more ambitious standard. This has resulted in superMHL, which will support up to 8Kp120 – 120 frames per second – in 36-bit colors (4:2:0) over 6 lanes.
It will obviously also support 4K, and 4Kp60 is possible over a single lane. MHL mentions support for 10, 12, and 16-bit per primary color (30, 36 & 48-bit) as well as HEVC, wider color gamuts, HDR, Dolby Atmos, DTS-UHD, HDCP 2.2 copy protection, and everything else that you expect nowadays, it seems. That is impressive for a standard, which was previously intended only for mobile devices.
One of the major changes will be that you can actually expect to see superMHL cables. Even though MHL will continue to work as a link in HDMI and USB ports, you will need the new superMHL cable in your TV and movie player to benefit from all the new capabilities. It is reversible, too. If you just need 1 lane (enough to deliver 4Kp60) you can use MHL embedded in a HDMI / USB cable.
As always, MHL will also be able to power and even charge your devices, if for example you connect a phone or tablet. superMHL is now capable of delivering up to 40W, compared to 10W for the old MHL 3 standard.
MHL’s nature is not competitive to HDMI per se, but it could turn out to be the case in a few years from now. It looks more like a soft transition. DisplayPort 1.3 is another contender for “beyond 4K” resolution.
So what about 8K TVs? We spotted several at CES 2015 from Sharp, LG, Panasonic, and Samsung. Samsung demonstrated an 8K TV running via superMHL. LG is saying that it will release an 8K TV this year, but we some little 4K content in the wild you should probably wait a few years before even considering it.
- Source: MHL (full specifications coming later this month) via Anandtech