With 4K televisions and monitors finally starting to hit the market at relatively reasonable prices, it was time for a new connectivity standard to meet the significantly higher demands that ultra-resolution displays demand. HDMI, long the go-to interface for video and audio, simply didn’t cut it when it came to the providing the full potential of 4K. To address this need, the HDMI Licensing Organization on Wednesday announced “HDMI 2.0,” the next specification of the ten-year-old technology.
The new specification supports an increase in bandwidth to 18 Gbps, enabling 4K (a.k.a. 2160p) resolutions at 3840-by–2160 at up to 60 Hz, a major improvement over the 30 Hz limit of current HDMI specifications at 4K. It also brings support for up to 32 audio channels, hopefully paving the way for in-home technologies equivalent to Dolby Atmos.
Additional features include support for up to 1536 kHz audio, simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen (think either split-screen gaming or “2D via 3D” shared screens), simultaneous delivery of audio to up to four users, better support for ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio, dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams, and better CEC support for controlling multiple devices via HDMI.
All of these advancements are backward-compatible when mixed with devices and cables supporting the older specifications. Users with a pre-HDMI 2.0 link in the chain won’t get the new features, but the audio and video will be passed along at the highest quality allowed by weakest link.
From a consumer perspective, it’s important to remember that HDMI versions do not define certain products; they are merely descriptions of the capabilities that a certain product can support. Therefore, current cables that support “High Speed,” or Category 2, HDMI are expected to work with the new specification once device support is implemented.