HDMI 2.1: What You Need to Know Page 2

S&V: What other advances does HDMI 2.1 make possible, and how will they benefit the consumer?
CP: 8K resolution will allow device manufacturers to support upcoming 8K broadcasts from NHK in Japan, including future Olympic events. The updated standard will also support bleeding-edge applications such as virtual reality (VR) with the resolution and frame rates necessary to deliver next-generation entertainment experiences. Even 10K resolution will have a lot of commercial AV applications. Matrix switchers and splitters, for example, will be able to serve up more higher-resolution screens for digital signage and multiscreen installations for campuses, offices, and entertainment establishments.

The variable refresh rates of Game Mode VRR will bring high-powered gaming to more consumer devices, and eARC will make it easier for consumers to access and experience the most advanced audio formats with a single HDMI cable.

S&V: The FAQ page on HDMI.org says, “HDMI 2.1 supersedes HDMI 2.0b and HDMI 2.1 continues to make reference to, and rely upon, HDMI 1.4b.” What does this mean in practical terms?
CP: HDMI specifications are always backwards compatible so there is always support for the huge installed base of HDMI devices. HDMI 2.1 is the latest version and therefore will supersede and eventually replace 2.0b. The 2.1 specification builds upon the foundation of the 1.4b specification and continues to make reference to it to ensure backwards compatibility with the billions of existing HDMI devices.

S&V: Will HDMI 2.0/a/b products be upgradeable to some or all aspects of 2.1 via a firmware upgrade?
CP: That is up to the individual manufacturers. They would have to plan for upgradability by designing and building it into their products. For some features it may be difficult and the best path will be to incorporate HDMI 2.1-enabled silicon.

S&V: Is the 2.1 connector the same as the one on current HDMI cables?
CP: Yes, the connector is the same.

Game Mode VRR eliminates frame tearing, stutter, and lag.

S&V: There has been a steady evolution in the HDMI spec for a while now, with new updates issued every year or two. Putting aside issues with HDCP, which are beyond the Forum’s purview, the need to constantly update the standard has made the roll-out of 4K/Ultra HD particularly thorny for consumers who want to future-proof investments in new TVs and AV receivers. Based on what the Forum has learned from recent history, is an effort being made to ensure that the new spec responds to such concerns? How, specifically, does 2.1 address the issue of longevity, given the steady roll out of new features on the video side, particularly those that require more and more bandwidth to implement?
CP: The HDMI Forum is comprised of 83 top companies from around the world, so many points of view are considered in developing a new specification. All those companies serve their customers’ needs and it’s not in anyone’s interest to make consumers hesitate because they think a product they want to buy will soon be outdated. The HDMI ecosystem still has a ways to go to deliver on the full promise of 4K/Ultra HD from content to distribution to device. But the HDMI Forum and its members have a responsibility to constantly ideate what is possible, marry that with practical industry and consumer trends and implementations, and drive the vision forward. Otherwise innovation stops.

The 4K roll-out issue you referred to was related to HDCP 1.4 vs. HDCP 2.2. Some early adopters had issues with newer 4K content/devices requiring HDCP 2.2 when their earlier 4K device supported only HDCP 1.4. We are not aware of any HDMI-specific issues that caused interoperability issues among 4K devices.

S&V: When can we expect to see the first HDMI 2.1-capable products?
CP: We can’t speak for the manufacturers as their product plans are up to them. But many of the 83 HDMI Forum member companies have been actively working on the specification for quite some time, so there is already some momentum in product planning.


The End of the Early Adopter


Philt56's picture

ARC does not work with my LG OLED tv and NAD receiver. When asked for support help, both companies basically said the ARC standard was so open to interpretation that they couldn't help solve the problem. ARC worked ok with the same receiver and my Sony LED tv, although even that was flaky at times.

What can be done in 2.1 specs for ARC and CEC to ensure that different manufacturers' devices interoperate correctly and consistently with each other?

Deus02's picture

I fully agree. I was using ARC between my LG 4K set and my Yamaha Pre-Pro and all of a sudden one day it stopped working never to do so again. I could never find out exactly why from either company. Ultimately, when using the monitor as the source for programming (i.e. Netflix, Youtube etc.) it was better to just use the audio out from the television(analog/optical) and plug it into a separate input on my Pre-Pro and program my remote accordingly. I have never had a problem since.

Incidentally, since the introduction of HDMI and the constant moving target that it has been since that introduction, with the myriad of equipment from different generations and the questionable reliability of the connectivity during this period, even with the reduction in cable requirements, I would take issue with the description of HDMI being a "godsend".

Philt56's picture

One time I was not getting any sound, finally I looked at my receivers display and it said ARC, but no sound was playing! The NAD automatically switches to ARC when it detects it.

drny's picture

I've read various articles on HDMI 2.1 from a number of industry sources.
S&V article falls in the sweet spot. Plenty of explanation of the technological upgrades without "talking above our head".
Much apprecaited.

Billy's picture

Had a comment here earlier, it has disappeared, hmmmm? People, did I say something wrong? All I said was that HDMI as a single cable is awesome, but the DRM aspects of it make it almost unworkable in some instances. I have a horrible problem with longer distances. If Car 6 can run HD 200 or more feet, why not HDMI? Must be the "handshake" BS. I have many TVs, all HCMI equipped sent through amps, splinters, etc. I forever, it seems, need to be turning off and on TVs, unplugging HDMIs and re plugging them, etc...just to get them to work. I understand Hollywoods trouble with piracy, truly I do. If it were my creative work, I would want to be paid too. I do not pirate, all my stuff is legal as can be, but yet I must suffer because of piracy? HDMI has done NOTHING to stop off shore pirates, NOTHING. Why not make HDMI, DRM free, and let the connection shine? Hollywood could lower the price of their goods and make it up in volume. Worked for Henry Ford, why not? The average person, even the low lifes that file share, would be stupid to try and steal a low quality product, when high quality goods were available at a reasonable price. Okay, off my soap box. (see, just had a 2 second power outage last night, and had to reset all my HDMI connections in the whole house, not in the best mood)

denslayer's picture