HDMI 2.0 Specification For 4K TV Unveiled

New spec offers big market opportunity for consumer chipmakers as TV industry prepares for ultra-HD broadcast.


A new standard for transmitting and receiving 4K video is now public. HDMI 2.0 has a maximum data rate of up to 18Gbps, which is about 76% faster than the previous specification.


Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, introducing the standard.

HDMI version 2.0, which was developed by the HDMI Forum, provides a maximum of 4K HD @ 50/60 Hz, 32 audio channels, an audio sampling frequency up to 1536 kHz, a dual-screen display, multi-stream audio, an aspect ratio of 21:9, as well as an extension to CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) 2.0 and a dynamic auto lip-sync, among other things. With 4K television broadcasts scheduled to begin next year in Japan, the electronic manufacturers have started to prepare semiconductor chips and boards to support 4K broadcasting. This opens up a broad new market for manufacturers.

The HDMI standard originated from a plan whose goal was to develop a fast serial interface. The data rate of HDMI 1.0 was 4.95 Gbps and it supported 1080P HD (high definition) television. In 2006 it was upgraded to HDMI 1.3 with a data rate of 10.2 Gbps, increasing the number of bits for improved depth of color HDMI 2.0 was developed to support 4K television with targeted bandwidth of 18 Gbps.

HDMI 2.0 adds dual-screen video capability. While 3D stereoscopic TV gained a lot of attention, the boom in that market has recently subsided. Yet 3D technology is also a consideration in HDMI 2.0. The stereoscopic image is produced by alternately reflecting the video seen from the right side and the left side of the eyes. To achieve the simultaneous dual-screen display, the frame rate of HDMI 2.0 is doubled from 24/30 frame per second to 50/60 frame per second.

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HDMI 2.0 that supports 4K / 2K video. Source: HDMI Licensing

HDMI 2.0 is set to handle extremely high sampling frequencies of up to 1536 kHz. Therefore, it can provide multi-stream audio with different languages between multiple users to as many as four users at once. One user can watch a video in Japanese while another user can view the same video in English and another can view it in Chinese—all at the same time.

Besides that, it is possible to place 32 different speakers surround the user as the number of audio channels has been extended from 8 channels of the conventional to 32 channels in this HDMI 2.0. Using 32 speakers placed around the user in various directions, including in front and back of the user, up and down as well as left and right and so on, the user can experience an incredibly realistic sound. In fact, the sound can rival the most technically advanced theaters. The 1536 kHz frequency, which supports 32 different types of sound sources, is derived from the conventional PCM sound generator at a frequency of 48 kHz per channel.

Next, the aspect ratio of the screen is extended to 21:9. This is similar to the size of a cinema screen. In addition, HDMI 2.0 supports CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) technology, which enables the user to control the HDMI compatible devices with a single remote. For more implementation of CEC in televisions and video appliances, a new CEC 2.0 standard has been developed with additional features such as extended command and extended control functions.

Furthermore, HDMI 2.0 supports dynamic auto lip-sync. It detects the contents of the streaming and synchronizes the audio and the video dynamically and automatically. This synchronization is constantly dynamic and automatic, despite various sources of the video and the audio. This is no simple task, either, as the signal route of the playback system circuit differs based on the media sources, which disrupts the order of the video and the audio streaming. The HDMI 2.0 specification is summarized in Table 1.

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Table 1: Comparison between HDMI2.0 standard and the conventional standard. Source: HDMI Licensing

HDMI 2.0 also uses existing cables. While 88 companies currently participate in HDMI Forum, this number is expected to increase in the near future, as more electronic devices will be equipped with the new interface. Panasonic already has started shipping devices with HDMI 2.0 support.

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