HDMI specifications haven’t changed for some time, which is a good thing. Every time a change in technology or some new technical specification come about there is usually a flurry of activity by manufacturers to gain market share by touting the latest and the bestest.

So after ten confusing HDMI specification updates, the last of which was ver 1.4, it is good news indeed to learn that HDMI 2.0 does not require any cable change. The current high speed HDMI cables (or Cat 2) will be able to carry all the increased signal and bandwidth upgrades of HDMI 2.0. Cable manufacturers are now required to label HDMI cables according to cable type, i.e. Standard, High Speed, or High Speed with Ethernet.

Types of HDMI cables

Types of HDMI cables

According to the recent press release by the HDMI forum, ver 2.0 is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI specification. It significantly increases bandwidth up to 18Gbps and adds major enhancements for higher video and audio resolution bandwidth.

Here is a summary of the HDMI 2.0 specs and features:

  • Increased bandwidth up to 18Gbps
  • Resolutions up to 4K@50/60 (2160p), which is 4 times the clarity of 1080p/60 video resolution
  • Up to 32 audio channels for a multi-dimensional immersive audio experience
  • Up to 1536kHz audio sample frequency for the highest audio fidelity
  • Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen
  • Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (Up to 4)
  • Support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio
  • Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
  • CEC extensions provide more expanded command and control of consumer electronics devices through a single control point

It is good timing that HDMI 2.0 will arrive just in time as 4K Ultra HD TV hits the stores.

In recent weeks, talks have been rife about the impending launch of HDMI 2.0 and while new technology is usually received with open and welcome arms, especially when HDMI 2.0 would usher in a whole new era of video, it could also open Pandora’s box and create handshake issues as HDMI 1.0 did before.

HDMI 2.0 is said to not only go beyond 1080p like the current HDMI 1.4 spec does. It will also support Ultra HD at higher frame rates and support increased bit color, be it 10- or 12-bit color. While an increase from 8-bit to 10-bit color doesn’t seem like such a big deal, it actually means an increase of billions of colors that the untrained eye will be able to see and appreciate. Add that to the “four times the resolution of 1080p” that Ultra HD offers and the increased frame rate and you will see a significant step up in performance that would have people wanting to upgrade their HDTVs and equipment.

Yet another key upgrade that the grapevine seems to have paid attention to is the move from H.264 to H.265 which is said to allow for better image quality from a much more compressed file. This is big news for cable and satellite providers who are unwilling to sacrifice any single channel to make room for Ultra HD channels.

With all that said, there is really no need to fear HDMI 2.0. HDMI 2.0 is more for those who want to make the move to Ultra HD and it is still too early to say what HDMI 2.0 will bring to the table.