HDMI or High Definition Media Interface is the most popular media content transfer interface and has just benefited from a major upgrade.
In most cases, the new interfaces remain in the theoretical stage for a few years before being embraced by users. However, HDMI 2.1 is the exception to the rule. Although the technical specifications of the new standard are not very old, the new jack will already be included in next-gen consoles, such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but also in the new RTX 30 video cards from NVIDIA. As a result, it would be good to understand a little better what a new version of HDMI helps, which visually looks the same as the previous one.
Most monitors and TVs on the market are HDMI 2.0 certified. That standard is limited to 18 Gbps data transfer, enough to seamlessly transfer a 4K video signal at a rate of 60 frames per second and 8 bits of color. Those parameters are sufficient for high-resolution gaming or for playing Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.
However, HDMI 2.1 is an important step forward compared to the values detailed above. The new interface facilitates the real-time transfer of a video signal at 8K resolution with 60 frames per second and 12 bits of color through a 48 Gbps data stream. Through an advanced compression algorithm (Display Stream Compression – DSC), it is also capable of transmitting a 10K video signal at 120 frames per second with 12 bits of color.
Some HDMI 2.1 implementations are limited to 40Gbps. Even so, that interface is capable of 4K transmissions at 120 frames per second and 10 bits of color, an important upgrade compared to the current HDMI 2.0.
At the moment, the transition to HDMI 2.1 is justified especially for gamers who buy their new NVIDIA consoles or video cards. If they use HDMI 2.0 TVs, they will be limited to a 4K signal with “only” 60 frames per second. For reference, most current Xbox or PlayStation games run at 30 frames per second. Really HDMI 2.1 will be widely adapted in 2021, only then you will see it in top TVs from Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips and others.
Beyond the technical specifications, it is important to remember that the new standard will require new cables. Although they look the same, the latter will be Ultra High Speed certified in order to take advantage of all the features of HDMI 2.1