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Navigating the confusing landscape of HDMI versions

Posted by Doug Schwartz on 9/19/14 11:00 AM

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HDMI, Oh My…

HDMI ConnectorI’m sure, back in 2002, when Hitachi, Matsushita Electric (now Panasonic), Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, Thomson (now Technicolor), RCA and Toshiba came together to create HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), they had no idea of the confusion and frustration the format would pose to consumers and professional integrators alike. With so many different HDMI versions, the landscape has gotten quite confusing.

The concept was sound; make a backwards-compatible connector to DVI-HDCP (DVI with HDCP) and DVI-HDTV (DVI-HDCP) using the CEA-861-B video standard at the time smaller.

In 2003, the first HDMI 1.0 interface rolled out replacing DVI in the consumer market, and by 2004, 5 million devices were in the market. In 2005, 17.4 million, in 2006, 63 million and by 2007 the number of HDMI enabled devices had reached 143 million, making HDMI the de facto standard of AV interface. The problem with HDMI is it is not a backwards-compatible format with itself. It started with HDMI 1.0, and continued to expand. Take a look at the progression: 

HDMI Versions

Today, to get the full potential of the interface you need an HDMI cable that complies with the 2.0 standard. The problem is that the hdmi.org has told it’s participating manufacturers that they should not talk about version’s of the format.

HDMI 2.0 is where the current state of the art exists, with full 4K UHD support (3840x2160@60Hz), but because the organization doesn’t want to get into the versions, and requests that packaging should not indicate it, not all cables on the market will work with the latest technology.

HDMI 2.0 cables are hard to come by as very few resellers carry them. So, unless you are using a full 4K UHD source and monitor, what you want to look for are cables that list ARC (Audio Return Channel) and HEC (HDMI Ethernet Channel) on the packaging which means version 1.4b, or use a HDMI to fiber solution, and all should be fine, that is, until it changes again.


Are there SFPs with an HDMI interface?

.... wait, do you know what SFPs even are?

There's an easy solution to both of these questions; the answers can be found in this free eBook:

Top 10 Questions about Small Form-Factor Pluggables (SFP)

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Top 10 Questions about Small Form-Factor Pluggables (SFP)

Topics: Video