HDMI 2.0, delayed but now done, boosts 4K video

A year later than expected, the HDMI 2.0 specification is done, paving the way for high-end TVs that can show video at 60 frames per second.

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Stephen Shankland
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A year later than expected, HDMI 2.0 has arrived, bringing support for higher-end high-resolution 4K TVs to the widely used video-audio connector technology.

The previous, 2009-era version of the High Definition Multimedia Interface, HDMI 1.4, supports 4K "Ultra HD" video, but with some limits: at a resolution of 3840x2160 it worked at up to 30 frames per second, and at 4096x2160 it reached only 24fps.

HDMI 2.0, though, can cram more bits down a high-speed HDMI cable -- 18 gigabits per second rather than 10Gbps for HDMI 1.4. That means it supports 4K video signals up to 60fps, the HDMI Forum announced Wednesday at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

The greater data transfer rates also means that HDMI 2.0 can carry dual video streams that can be shown simultaneously on the same screen. And it supports up to 32 audio channels.

HDMI has grown ascendant in the video connector market, though a rival connector called DisplayPort maintains a significant presence, too. DisplayPort already supports 4K video at 60fps, and the HDMI Forum said the HDMI 2.0 specification earlier had been scheduled for a mid-2012 release.

To watch 4K video, people should use high-speed HDMI cables, the group said, but cheap HDMI cables generally work just fine. The HDMI Forum didn't define any new cable specifications that accompany HDMI 2.0.

The 88 electronics companies that make up the HDMI Forum are now turning their attention to the sequel. "With the publication of the HDMI 2.0 specification, we are now soliciting input and proposals from member companies for the next HDMI Forum specification," said HDMI Forum Chairman Arnold Brown in a statement.

Analysts predict good times ahead for HDMI usage.
Analysts predict good times ahead for HDMI usage. HDMI Forum