HDMI 1.4 - Explained and Compared

HDMI 1.4 for 3D Television Explained

Author: James Breen

HDMI Explained

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a compact audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed digital data. It represents a digital alternative to consumer analog standards, such as radio frequency (RF) coaxial cable, composite video, S-Video, SCART, component video, D-Terminal, or VGA. HDMI connects digital audio/video sources-such as set-top boxes, upconvert DVD players, HD DVD players, Blu-ray Disc players, AVCHD camcorders, personal computers (PCs), video game consoles such as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and AV receivers-to compatible digital audio devices, computer monitors, and digital tv sets.

HDMI supports, on a single cable, any uncompressed Tv or PC video format, including standard, enhanced, and high-definition video; up to 8 channels of compressed or uncompressed digital audio; and a Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) connection. The CEC allows HDMI devices to control each other when necessary and allows the user to operate multiple devices with one remote control handset. Because HDMI is electrically compatible with the signals used by Digital Visual Interface (DVI), no signal conversion is necessary, nor is there a loss of video quality when a DVI-to-HDMI adapter is used. As an uncompressed connection, HDMI is independent of the various digital television standards used by individual devices, such as ATSC and DVB, as these are encapsulations of compressed MPEG video streams (which can be decoded and output as an uncompressed video stream on HDMI). The HDMI standard was not designed to include passing closed caption data (for example, subtitles) to the television for decoding. So any closed caption stream has to be decoded and included as an image in the video stream(s) prior to transmission over an HDMI cable to be viewed on the DTelevision. This limits the caption style (even for digital captions) to only that decoded at the source prior to HDMI transmission. This also prevents closed captions when transmission over HDMI is required for upconversion.

History of HDMI

The HDMI Founders are Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic/National/Quasar), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson (RCA), and Toshiba. Digital Content Protection, LLC provides HDCP (which was developed by Intel) for HDMI. HDMI has the support of motion picture producers Fox, Universal, Warner Bros., and Disney, along with system operators DirecTv set, EchoStar (Dish Network), and CableLabs.

The HDMI Founders began development on HDMI 1.0 on April 16, 2002, with the goal of creating an AV connector that was backward-compatible with DVI. At the time, DVI-HDCP (DVI with HDCP) and DVI-HDTv (DVI-HDCP using the CEA-861-B video standard) were being used on HDTvs. HDMI 1.0 was designed to improve on DVI-HDTelevision by using a smaller connector and adding support for audio, enhanced support for YCbCr, and consumer electronics control functions.

The first Authorized Testing Center (ATC), which tests HDMI products, was opened by Silicon Image on June 23, 2003, in California, United States. The first ATC in Japan was opened by Panasonic on May 1, 2004, in Osaka. The first ATC in Europe was opened by Philips on May 25, 2005, in Caen, France. The first ATC in China was opened by Silicon Image on November 21, 2005, in Shenzhen. The first ATC in India was opened by Philips on June 12, 2008, in Bangalore. The HDMI website contains a list of all the ATCs.

Specifications

The HDMI specification defines the protocols, signals, electrical interfaces, and mechanical requirements of the standard. The maximum pixel clock rate for HDMI 1.0 was 165 MHz, which was sufficient for supporting 1080p and WUXGA (1920?1200) at 60 Hz. HDMI 1.3 increased that to 340 MHz, which allows for higher resolution (such as WQXGA, 2560?1600) across a single digital link. An HDMI connection can either be single-link (Type A/C) or dual-link (Type B) and can have a video pixel rate of 25 MHz to 340 MHz (for a single-link connection) or 25 MHz to 680 MHz (for a dual-link connection). Video formats with rates below 25 MHz (e.g., 13.5 MHz for 480i/NTSC) are transmitted using a pixel-repetition scheme.

Versions

HDMI devices are manufactured to adhere to various versions of the specification, in which each version is given a number, such as 1.0, 1.2, or 1.3a. Each subsequent version of the specification uses the same kind of cable but increases the bandwidth and/or capabilities of what can be transmitted over the cable. A product listed as having a HDMI version does not necessarily mean that it will have all of the features that are listed for that version, since some HDMI features are optional, such as Deep Color and xvYCC (which is branded by Sony as 'x.v.Color'). Note that with the release of the version 1.4 cable, the HDMI Licensing LLC group (which oversees the HDMI standard) will require that any reference to version numbers be removed from all advertising from the cable only. Non-cable HDMI products starting on January 1, 2012 will no longer be allowed to reference the HDMI number and will be required to state which features of the HDMI specification the product supports.

Version 1.0-1.2

HDMI 1.0 was released December 9, 2002 and is a single-cable digital audio/video connector interface with a maximum TMDS bandwidth of 4.9 Gbit/s. It supports up to 3.96 Gbit/s of video bandwidth (1080p/60 Hz or UXGA) and 8 channel LPCM/192 kHz/24-bit audio. HDMI 1.1 was released on May 20, 2004 and added support for DVD-Audio. HDMI 1.2 was released August 8, 2005 and added support for One Bit Audio, used on Super Audio CDs, at up to 8 channels. It also added the availability of HDMI Type A connectors for PC sources, the ability for PC sources to only support the sRGB color space while retaining the option to support the YCbCr color space, and required HDMI 1.2 and later displays to support low-voltage sources. HDMI 1.2a was released on December 14, 2005 and fully specifies Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) features, command sets, and CEC compliance tests.

Version 1.3


HDMI 1.3 was released June 22, 2006 and increased the single-link bandwidth to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbit/s). It optionally supports Deep Color, with 30-bit, 36-bit, and 48-bit xvYCC, sRGB, or YCbCr, compared to 24-bit sRGB or YCbCr in previous HDMI versions. It also optionally supports output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams for external decoding by AV receivers. It incorporates automatic audio syncing (audio video sync) capability. It defined cable Categories 1 and 2, with Category 1 cable being tested up to 74.25 MHz and Category 2 being tested up to 340 MHz. It also added the new Type C Mini connector for portable devices.

HDMI 1.3a was released on November 10, 2006 and had Cable and Sink modifications for Type C, source termination recommendations, and removed undershoot and maximum rise/fall time limits. It also changed CEC capacitance limits, clarified sRGB video quantization range, and CEC commands for timer control were brought back in an altered form, with audio control commands added. It also added support for optionally streaming SACD in its bitstream DST format rather than uncompressed raw DSD like from HDMI 1.2 onwards.

HDMI 1.3b, 1.3b1 and 1.3c were released on March 26, 2007, November 9, 2007, and August 25, 2008 respectively. They do not introduce differences on HDMI features, functions, or performance, but only describe testing for products based on the HDMI 1.3a specification regarding HDMI compliance (1.3b), the HDMI Type C Mini connector (1.3b1), and active HDMI cables (1.3c).

Version 1.4


HDMI 1.4 was released on May 28, 2009, and the first HDMI 1.4 products were available in the second half of 2009. HDMI 1.4 increases the maximum resolution to 4K ? 2K (3840?2160p at 24 Hz/25 Hz/30 Hz and 4096?2160p at 24 Hz, which is a resolution used with digital theaters); an HDMI Ethernet Channel, which allows for a 100 Mb/s Ethernet connection between the two HDMI connected devices; and introduces an Audio Return Channel, 3D Over HDMI (HDMI 1.3 devices will only support this for 1080i), a new Micro HDMI Connector, expanded support for color spaces, and an Automotive Connection System. HDMI 1.4 supports several stereoscopic 3D formats including field alternative (interlaced), frame packing (a full resolution top-bottom format), line alternative full, side-by-side half, side-by-side full, 2D depth, and 2D depth graphics graphics depth (WOWvx), with additional top/bottom formats added in version 1.4a . HDMI 1.4 requires that 3D displays support the frame packing 3D format at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24. High Speed HDMI 1.3 cables can support all HDMI 1.4 features except for the HDMI Ethernet Channel.

HDMI 1.4a was released on March 4, 2010 and adds two additional mandatory 3D formats for broadcast content which was deferred with HDMI 1.4 in order to see the direction of the 3D broadcast market.  HDMI 1.4a has defined mandatory 3D formats for broadcast, game, and movie content. HDMI 1.4a requires that 3D displays support the frame packing 3D format at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24, side-by-side horizontal at either 1080i50 or 1080i60, and top-and-bottom at either 720p50 and 1080p24 or 720p60 and 1080p24.

Version comparison


So now you have the low down on HDMI V1.4 ans why it is neccessary to upgrade your cabling when you replace your new Television. Many people who have had the Television professionaly installed with the cabling chased into the walls are going to struggle to upgrade to new cabling, there are professional installer companys that can complete this for you.

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