Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Next High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Spec Doubles Bandwidth

The seven HDMI Founder companies (Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic), Royal Philips Electronics, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson, and Toshiba) released a major enhancement of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) specification for consumer electronics.

Specifically, the HDMI 1.3 specification more than doubles HDMI's bandwidth and adds support for Deep Color technology, a broader color space, new digital audio formats, automatic audio/video synching capability ("lip sync"), and an optional smaller connector for use with personal photo and video devices.

HDMI 1.3 capabilities include:

  • Higher speed: HDMI 1.3 increases its single-link bandwidth from 165MHz (4.95 Gbps) to 340 MHz (10.2 Gbps) to support the demands of future high definition display devices, such as higher resolutions, Deep Color and high frame rates. In addition, built into the HDMI 1.3 specification is the technical foundation that will let future versions of HDMI reach significantly higher speeds.

  • Deep Color: HDMI 1.3 supports 30-bit, 36-bit and 48-bit (RGB or YCbCr) color depths, up from the 24-bit depths in previous versions of the HDMI specification; lets HDTVs and other displays go from millions of colors to billions of colors; eliminates on-screen color banding, for smooth tonal transitions and subtle gradations between colors; eEnables increased contrast ratio; and can represent many times more shades of gray between black and white. At 30-bit pixel depth, four times more shades of gray would be the minimum, and the typical improvement would be eight times or more

  • Broader color space: HDMI 1.3 removes virtually all limits on color selection. Next-generation "xvYCC" color space supports 1.8 times as many colors as existing HDTV signals; lets HDTVs display colors more accurately; and enables displays with more natural and vivid colors

  • New mini connector: With small portable devices such as HD camcorders and still cameras demanding seamless connectivity to HDTVs, HDMI 1.3offers a new, smaller form factor connector option.

  • Lip Sync: Because consumer electronics devices are using increasingly complex digital signal processing to enhance the clarity and detail of the content, synchronization of video and audio in user devices has become a greater challenge and could potentially require complex end-user adjustments. HDMI 1.3 incorporates an automatic audio/video synching capability that allows devices to perform this synchronization automatically with accuracy.

  • New lossless audio formats: In addition to HDMI's current ability to support high-bandwidth uncompressed digital audio and currently-available compressed formats (such as Dolby Digital and DTS), HDMI 1.3 adds additional support for new, lossless compressed digital audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Products implementing the new HDMI specification will continue to be backward compatible with earlier HDMI products.

More than 400 makers of consumer electronics and PC products worldwide have adopted HDMI, according to HDMI Licensing LLC, the industry group responsible for licensing the technology. In-Stat expects 60 million devices featuring HDMI to ship in 2006.

See also