HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-29-17, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear



Just when you thought it was safe to call your system future-proof, the HDMI Forum has turned the tables (yet again) and announced a new iteration of its HDMI Specification. Version 2.1 was officially unveiled earlier this month at CES 2017, with promises of support for data intense performance capabilities.

“This new release of the specification offers a broad range of advanced features for enhancing the consumer entertainment experience, as well as providing robust solutions to the commercial A/V sector,” says Robert Blanchard of Sony Electronics, president of the HDMI Forum.

The new specification brings Dynamic HDR, eARC, Game Mode variable refresh rate, 8K video at 60fps, and 4K at 120 fps, along with a bandwidth of 48 Gbps. That last parameter is well over double what the current HDMI 2.0 specification delivers (18 Gbps) and will require a new HDMI 2.1 cable. Yup, you read that correctly: once HDMI 2.1 takes hold, your old HDMI cables will slowly be rendered useless. The good news is that HDMI 2.1 (along with the new cable) are backwards compatible with the HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 specifications. As for your soon to be old HDMI 2.0x equipment, some of it might be upgradeable to HDMI 2.1 via a firmware upgrade. More than likely, though, the increased data requirements will require you to shop for new gear. Frustrating, yes…but exciting at the same time.

One of the more interesting new features is Dynamic HDR. This technology allows high dynamic range information to be delivered to a display on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis; HDR performance will actively change (depth, detail, brightness, contrast, color) for an optimal picture at all times. The addition of eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) means the most advanced audio codecs (Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) can be transmitted from a television back to an AVR/processor using the same HDMI cable that delivers video and audio. While this is possible with the current HDMI 2.0 standard, audio return is limited to less data intensive codecs.

The journey from HDMI 1.4 to HDMI 2.0 was certainly bumpy and frustrating for both consumers and manufacturers, alike, and it appears rough roads are approaching quickly. For those of you that purchased new TVs and AVRs in the last year, they are (unfortunately) well on their way to being outdated. Keep in mind, however, the HDMI 2.1 specification will take years to fully implement and there's no guarantee that manufacturers will immediately implement all of HDMI 2.1's capabilities in the short term.

The HDMI Forum says 2.1 won’t be released to manufacturers until sometime during Q2 2017. That means we'll likely have to wait until 2018 to see HDMI 2.1 gear hit store shelves.

Image Credit: HDMI Forum
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-29-17, 12:04 PM
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Re: HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear

That seems like a good upgrade, at least in terms of bandwidth. Like you said though, it will be years before it gets properly implemented, and we have content developed specifically for it, so I won't feel bad about buying an HDMI 2.0 AVR in the next year or so.

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post #3 of 6 Old 01-29-17, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear

Quote:
Owen Bartley wrote: View Post
That seems like a good upgrade, at least in terms of bandwidth. Like you said though, it will be years before it gets properly implemented, and we have content developed specifically for it, so I won't feel bad about buying an HDMI 2.0 AVR in the next year or so.

Sent from my LG-H812 using Tapatalk
It sure felt like things had stabilized somewhat...but the push towards 8K is on. Japan is looking to broadcast the Olympics in 8K (in 4 years). Safe to say 8K sets are going to start hitting the market in a few years.

The good news is that 1080p still looks great... 4K HDR looks amazing... ;-)
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-30-17, 12:43 PM
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Re: HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear

I think that the biggest issue will be the cable. There have been some postings by cable manufacturers that have stated they do not know how HDMI is going to push that much data through a cable. It looks like current cable technology will not support hat much bandwidth. HDMI may go a different route, but that would break compatibility with existing standards.
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-31-17, 07:13 AM
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Re: HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear

Quote:
dschlic1 wrote: View Post
I think that the biggest issue will be the cable. There have been some postings by cable manufacturers that have stated they do not know how HDMI is going to push that much data through a cable. It looks like current cable technology will not support hat much bandwidth. HDMI may go a different route, but that would break compatibility with existing standards.
Possibly. Funnier things have happened with standards committees! I think it's more likely that they've exercised due-diligence with cable development as described here and here. Excerpts are included below. Of course, you can't believe everything you read! I would venture a guess that some manufacturers would get nervous in the face of these ever-increasing bandwidths, as some have enough trouble meeting the current crop of HDMI 2.0 standards. As usual, buying from reputable manufacturers like Monoprice or Blue Jeans Cable can reduce or eliminate throw-aways and/or annoying down-time.

Cables
On January 4, 2017 HDMI Forum, Inc announced[83][84] new "48G" cable for supporting HDMI 2.1 features. This cable supports up to 48 Gbit/s of uncompressed data stream. This is a reliable high quality cable for robust, higher-bandwidth performance, and exceptionally low EMI. 48G cable adds support for 4K and 8K at 120 fps. It adds support for 5K and 10K at 120 fps for PC displays, digital signage, surveillance, and various commercial and industrial AV solutions. These cables uses existing HDMI type A, C and D connectors. 48G Cable is backwards compatible and can be used with the earlier HDMI devices.

48G Cable – 4K, 5K, 8K, 10K 120 fps


New cable
For the first time in a while, there is a new cable. It looks... well, it looks the same as the old cable. There's no new connector; that stays the same. The "48G" cables will have 48Ghz bandwidth, roughly 2.6 times what the better-made HDMI cables have now. These cables are backward compatible, so they'll work with all your other HDMI gear (at whatever speed that gear operates).

A visual representation of how much more bandwidth the upcoming 48G cables can handle. 18Gbps is plenty for nearly all current content.

There's no reason to buy a 48G cable now. The first generation of these cables will be overpriced and do not do anything for your current gear. When, down the road, you have gear that can take advantage of the extra bandwidth or features, then you should upgrade. They'll be cheaper then, too.

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post #6 of 6 Old 01-31-17, 11:48 AM
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Re: HDMI 2.1 Offers Performance, But Prepare to Buy New Gear

Here is a blog entry discussing cable issues.
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