The world has been waiting for the release of HDMI 2.0, offering high-res 4K TV owners the support required for them to put to use the form of audio-video connection that is becoming more and more widespread. Well, a year after its expected release, it is finally here.
The old-school HDMI 1.4 does offer 4K Ultra HD video support, but does have some issues. For instance, with 3840x2160 resolution, it performed at roughly 30 frames per second, while at 4096x2160 resolution it only hit 24fps. Basically, you can enjoy watching some movies on your TV, but gaming will be a bit frustrating.
What's The Difference?
The old HDMI 1.4 (which doesn't seem that old at all, really) can handle transmitting 10Gbps. Compare that to HDMI 2.0, which sends data at 18Gbps. At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, the HDMI Forum announced the HDMI 2.0 would handle transmitting 4K video signals at speeds up to 60fps.
Something else the 'old' HDMI 1.4 can't do: transmit dual video streams to be displayed simultaneously on one television screen. Oh, and did I mention HDMI 2.0 can support up to 32 audio channels?
Currently, HDMI 1.4 can be used with these 4K Ultra HD TVs. However, that 24fps limit is 8-bit color, so for these Ultra HD TVs, that just won't work. They are planning on offering 10 or 12-bit color, so with the 60fps rate, the better HDMI 2.0 cable will be necessary to move all that data quickly enough.
A large group of companies, people, and organizations relating to consumer electronics make up what is called the HDMI forum, and it is up to them to make decisions pertaining to the technology's use.
As such, they wanted to develop HDMI 2.0 and deploy it so that it is not only functional today, but works with future technological advancements down the road. They're now asking for feedback and ideas from members regarding the next big HDMI Forum release.
HDMI cable use is increasing, but it does have competition in the form of DisplayPort. DisplayPort is a step ahead -- it supports 60fps 4K video in 10-bit color. If you have a Mac, you've worked with DisplayPort: it's the port that pushes the display on your screen to an external TV or monitor.
The HDMI Forum has no plans whatsoever to adopt the DisplayPort protocol, which is now called Thunderbolt. The name change came about after the DisplayPort and PCI Express ports merged into one.
Two Steps Ahead?
So the 4K Ultra HD is the next big thing in visual entertainment, and HDMI 2.0 is here to make it possible. However, cable and satellite companies are not yet broadcasting 4K video, and Blu-ray discs aren't yet offered in 4K (although there are some on the market being marketed as 1080p discs optimized for Ultra HD TVs). It is possible that video games will demonstrate the power of HDMI 2.0, but only time will tell.
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