DPL Labs Certifies the First Optical HDMI Cable for 18Gbps Throughput

Tributaries has introduced an active fiber optic HDMI cable that has been certified by DPL Labs to transport HDMI signals at data rates up to 18Gbps over cable lengths up to 98 feet.

Dubbed Aurora, the cable is available through tributariescable.com at the following prices: $1,350 (33 feet), $1,500 (49 feet), $1,650 (66 feet), $1,800 (82 feet), and $1,950 (98 feet).

From the press release:

With the arrival of UHD Premium content, 4K/60, 10-bit color with HDR, the necessity of an HDMI cable that can carry data rates of 18Gbps has become critical. The new Samsung Ultra UHD Blu-ray Player is available; UHD Blu-ray discs are available now from Amazon. Currently, Kaleidescape has available for download from their Store UHD Blu-ray movies with HDR/10-bit content. To successfully play this content requires cables capable of transporting data rates of 18Gbps. The days of good'nuf cables are coming to an end. Only cables that are designed, engineered and manufactured to the highest standards using the best components will work in this new world of UHD Premium content.

Engineered as a hybrid fiber optic cable, Aurora is a marvel of electro-optical engineering combining the best of worlds, glass and copper. Glass transports the video/audio/clock and control signals while the copper carries the Digital Display Channel (DDC) responsible for the 2-way communication of EDID and HDCP. The components required for the electrical/optical/electrical conversions are efficiently contained in the connector head shells. Power is provided by way of a USB 2.0 receptacle on each connector. USB cables and 120V adapters are provided.

The brain of the cable, originally designed for military applications, is an optical microchip encased in the HDMI source-connector. Embedded in the microchip are 4 vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, VCSELs, semiconductor-based laser diodes that emit a highly efficient optical beam perpendicular to the fiber surface. Each TMDS modulated beam is reflected off a mirror and injected into a multi-mode fiber optic glass material producing 4 TMDS optic channels. The optical glass fibers are surrounded by highly reflective OM3 (10Gig) cladding. The sink-end connector houses Photo Diode receptors that decode the TMDS modulated light beams and convert them back to an electrical HDMI signal.

"Over the last year DPL has had the privilege of testing several types of fiber optic cable products designed to support 18Gbps of throughput. Unfortunately none of them were able to pass DPL minimums", said Jeff Boccaccio, president of DPL Labs. "Finally a new Hybrid AOC fiber product was submitted for testing that had outstanding performance up to and including 30 meters."

For more information, visit by tributariescable.com.

pirroplato's picture

Or you could save yourself a lot of headache and money by buying a good quality balun. Optical is cool and all but in residential applications, the only reason you would use this long of a cable is for distribution. Trouble with that is if you get a builder that accidentally sends a nail through this, bye-bye $2k cable. I'd rather run some cat6 cables.

dnoonie's picture

For installs fiber is usually run through conduit. At least that's the way I've done it.

There are certainly less expensive fiber options. I've not done a lot of new research with the new HDMI spec, I'm waiting for more options and prefer a converter box with standard multi strand fiber to the premade cables like this one.


jnemesh's picture

(Technically they aren't "Baluns") They will work, but ONLY the newer HDBT 2.0 spec extenders support UHD at 60fps, and then only with 4:2:0 color, and forget about HDR support.

A more affordable solution are the Celerity brand fiber optic HDMI cables. They are available in lengths up to 1000 ft and support 18Gbps operation for FULL UHD support WITH HDR! They also have detachable HDMI connectors so you just have to fish a "mini" plug through the wall, instead of a full size HDMI plug.

A 40ft cable retails for only $325 MSRP, MUCH less expensive than Tributaries offering.

eugovector's picture

$150 at monoprice.

bigtex8031's picture

The monoprice cable isn't capable of 18Gbps.