HDMI 2.1 introduces 8K60, 4K120, and 'dynamic HDR' support
January 6, 2017 // 10:02 a.m.
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.