HDMI 2.1 introduces 8K60, 4K120, and 'dynamic HDR' support

HDMI 2.1 introduces 8K60, 4K120, and 'dynamic HDR' support

The HDMI Forum's new HDMI 2.1 standard adds support for 8K60 and 4K120 resolutions, 'dynamic HDR,' and a game mode with variable refresh rate.

The HDMI Forum has announced version 2.1 of its eponymous specification, introducing support for 8K resolution at 60Hz, 4K at 120Hz, and the somewhat confusingly named 'dynamic high dynamic range (HDR).'

Designed to take over from HDMI 2.0b, and offering full backwards compatibility with older devices, the new HDMI 2.1 specification is filled with improvements largely centring around a new cable supporting 48Gb/s of throughput. 'This new release of the specification offers a broad range of advanced features for enhancing the consumer entertainment experience, as well as providing robust solutions to the commercial AV sector,' claimed Sony's Robert Blanchard, president of the HDMI Forum, at the launch. 'This is part of the HDMI Forum's continuing mission to develop specifications for the HDMI eco-system that meet the growing demand for compelling, high-performance and exciting features.'

Chief among those features is a boost to resolution and refresh rate, thanks to the increased throughput offered via the new cable: HDMI 2.1 fully supports 8K resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate or 4K at an impressive 120Hz. The standard also includes provisions to offer improved high dynamic range (HDR) support, altering the settings on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis, though the Forum's choice to call this 'dynamic high dynamic range' is perhaps a little awkward to say.

Additional changes in the HDMI 2.1 specification include a gaming mode with variable refresh rate, dubbed Game Mode VRR, which the Forum has not yet fully detailed but which it claims will reduce lag, stutter, and frame-tearing, and enhanced audio return channel (eARC) with support for more audio formats, object-based audio, and device auto-detection.

The Forum has not yet announced when the first HDMI 2.1 devices will appear on the market, but it has confirmed that the finalised specification will be released to all HDMI 2.0 adopters early in the second quarter of this year.


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Maki role 6th January 2017, 10:26 Quote
So if a good chunk of the new capabilities are down to the cable, rather than just back-end, will there be any distinguishing factors between the older ones and newer? USB was quite good about this by making the connector interiors blue, made telling the difference really easy between older devices and cables (since not everything was made fatter).

It's just one of those little quality of life improvements that makes buying replacements or sorting out the ones from the inevitable cable bag a little easier.
B1GBUD 6th January 2017, 11:59 Quote
Dynamic High Dynamic Range? ;)
Mister_Tad 6th January 2017, 12:10 Quote
I'm waiting for the next version before I upgrade - HDHDRHD
Anfield 6th January 2017, 12:13 Quote
Originally Posted by B1GBUD
Dynamic High Dynamic Range? ;)
Moreover, the new HDMI 2.1 standard brings support for dynamic HDR metadata, enabling content makers to control levels of color, contrast and brightness on a frame-by-frame basis.

The important part here is that dynamic HDR will not require the new 48G cable to handle video in up to 4Kp60 resolution and thus manufacturers may add support for dynamic HDR even using a firmware update. That is not going to work for a lot of existing equipment because display pipelines work differently and many TVs are incapable of anything beyond HDR10. Moreover, recorded media (i.e., Ultra HD Blu-ray) does not currently support dynamic HDR (and when the next-gen standard emerges, it will bring a lot of other features, including a new content protection algorithm), which means that two primary sources for dynamic HDR content will be games and streaming media (which is an interesting thing, given the focus of AMD’s recently announced FreeSync 2 technology). It is also noteworthy that HDMI Forum does not currently mention particular HDR implementations, but only says that the HDMI 2.1 standard will support a variety of them.
Corky42 6th January 2017, 12:23 Quote
With FreeSync, Adaptive Sync, and now Game Mode VRR Nvidia's GSync is looking increasingly redundant, that's assuming Adaptive Sync and Game Mode VRR are just different names for what's essentially FreeSync.
DbD 6th January 2017, 15:43 Quote
Originally Posted by Corky42
With FreeSync, Adaptive Sync, and now Game Mode VRR Nvidia's GSync is looking increasingly redundant, that's assuming Adaptive Sync and Game Mode VRR are just different names for what's essentially FreeSync.

If it is basically freesync then that will eventually be a huge boost for that format when the consoles support it. Although that might be 5 years off being as they just refreshed them all.
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