HDMI Gets a Facelift

Development plans for the next version of the popular High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) standard were announced today at the Consumer Electronics Show by the seven founding companies (Hitachi, Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic), Philips Consumer Electronics International B.V., Silicon Image, Inc., Sony Corp., Thomson, Inc. and Toshiba Corp.). These new standards are set to be rolled out in the first half of this year.

The new standards and the devices they are programmed into, which will be compatible with earlier generation HDMI enabled consumer electronics, include, according to a press release:

  • Higher speed: Though HDMI has more than twice the bandwidth needed to support all HDTV formats, HDMI will increase its single-link bandwidth to support the demands of future HD display devices, such as higher resolutions, deep color and high frame rates.
  • Deep color: HDMI will support 30-bit, 36-bit and 48-bit color depths for stunning rendering of over one billion colors in unprecedented detail.
  • Greater PC/CE convergence: HDMI will be enhanced for easier integration into low voltage, AC-coupled PC graphics controllers, cementing HDMI’s position as the de facto standard digital multimedia interface enabling true convergence across PC and CE platforms. The HDMI Founders also support compatibility between HDMI and the Unified Display Interface (UDI), the HDMI-compatible digital video interface for PC displays announced recently by a group of leading PC technology makers.
  • New mini connector: With small portable devices such as HD camcorders and still cameras demanding seamless HDTV connectivity, HDMI will offer a new, smaller form-factor connector option. Since HDMI offers the highest quality digital audio and video on a single connection, such devices will be also benefit from a reduced connector count.
  • Lip Sync: CE devices are employing increasingly complex digital signal processing of high-resolution video and audio formats to enhance the clarity and detail of the content. As a result, synchronization of video and audio in user devices has become a greater challenge and could potentially require complex end-user adjustments. HDMI will incorporate features to enable this synchronization to be done automatically by the devices with greater accuracy.
  • New compressed audio formats: In addition to HDMI’s current ability to support high-bandwidth uncompressed digital audio and all currently-available compressed formats (such as Dolby Digital and DTS), HDMI will add additional support for new compressed digital audio formats Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.

In addition, it was announced by HDMI Licensing, LLC, the agent responsible for licensing the HDMI standard, that more than 300 makers of consumer electronics and computer products have adopted the standard. This amounts to more than 17 million HDMI devices having shipped last year and 59 million more expected in 2006.

“HDMI is an evolving standard, designed to meet the needs of a dynamic marketplace,” said Leslie Chard, president of HDMI Licensing, LLC. “These new capabilities, currently under development, reflect how HDMI continues to adapt to new market developments, specifically the need for increased bandwidth and the inevitable convergence of consumer electronics with PC devices.”