Everything you need to know about HDMI: versions, resolutions and Hz

The birth of version 1.0 of the HDMI interface occurred in 2003, at that time high definition televisions, 1280 x 720 pixels back then, they were counted on the fingers of the hands. What’s more, the first high-definition consoles such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were nothing more than a project and formats such as Blu-Ray appeared in the rumors as news.

The first revisions of HDMI were not widely adopted by the market, after all, Full HD panels did not yet exist and other video interfaces gave enough bandwidth to be able to reproduce at 720p and 60 Hz, hence its adoption was much later. And what is it that produced it? Well, the appearance of the Blu-Ray that was accompanied by the third generation SONY console that required an HDMI interface to be able to transmit data through the HDCP.

The evolution from HDMI 1.0 to 1.2 was as follows:

  • Version 1.1 of the HDMI standard added DVD Audio support, which allowed to transmit the sound in the players from the interface and not have to depend on the white and red cables of the composite or component video.
  • HDMI 1.2 version wide audio capacity up to 8 channels. Of this there was an improved version that was 1.2a and that added the so-called CEC or Electronic Consumer Control. Which allows you to control the volume and certain image options from the same control knob.

HDMI 1.3 to 1.4b, the evolution with DSC

HDMI-1.3-cable evolution

In the middle of 2006, HDMI had not yet been adopted on a large scale in the field of consumer electronics, but the adoption of LCD screens had finally unified two worlds that had been separated for decades, that of PC monitors and computers. televisions. From that moment until today, both would share a good part of the technologies and it became necessary to adopt higher resolutions and frequency rates.

The first major change in the first major evolution of HDMI? An increase in bandwidth that was from 3.96 Gbits per second transfer rate at 8.96 Gbits per second. This allowed it to get up to a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels at a rate of 144 Hz. Both were impossible on televisions at the time, but were clearly within the needs of PC monitors.

The big news was technology DSC compression, which is based on the HDMI output interface compresses the RGB information for each pixel. Which allowed it to even reach 2160 or 4K resolutions under certain conditions. The interface had an improved version in the form of 1.4b, which increased the bandwidth to 10.2 Gbits per second, allowing higher resolutions.

HDMI 2.0, 4K support

High Definition Media Interface 4K

The jump from Full HD to 4K was as important with respect to image quality as that from PAL or NTSC to HD resolutions, of course four times more pixels require four times more information to transmit. That is why at the end of 2013 the consortium of companies that dictate the HDMI standards and agree on it among themselves decided to create version 2.0 of the standard, which in its initial version reached the 18 Gbps and therefore it was achieved that in some previously established resolutions the use of DSC compression will not be necessary, which worsens the image quality.

Although its great novelties not only had to do with the implementation of higher bandwidth and resolutions, but with elements such as the HDR support, through version 2.0a, support for 7.1 audio with sample quality of 192 KHz per channel, the support for widescreen monitors with aspect ratio 21: 9 and the synchronization of video and audio for broadcasting video over the internet, designed for platforms such as Netflix and HBO, which at that time were beginning to emerge.

Version 2.0 also provided the implementation of an improved HDCP, which is key for the playback of UHD Blu-Ray movies, as well as certain content transmitted over the internet.

HDMI 2.1, the end of the road?

HDMI 2.1 cables

The latest HDMI standard is 2.1, which allows you to view video at 8K resolution, although only at 30 Hz, in any case its greatest asset is the increase in its bandwidth that suffered an increase until the 48 Gbps, being the most important increase in the evolution of HDMI and allowing it to support a large number of resolutions without compression DSC through the middle.

It is actually an improved version of the HDMI 2.0. Since outside the bandwidth does not provide additional news, but this has been large enough to ensure its continuity for many years without minor improved versions appearing, which was something that affected the evolution of HDMI 1.X, where monitors and video devices quickly went out of date.

So at the moment an improved version is not expected, since the HDMI 2.1 it fulfills leftovers for many years onwards. What happens if we connect two devices of different generation?

Nothing really, just that the video transfer will adapt to the bandwidth of the less fast part. This helps all HDMI devices to be forward compatible, although for example your Full HD console will not reproduce at 4K because it uses an interface with version 2.1 of the standard. This is thanks to the fact that in all versions the shape, distribution and functionality of the pins has always been the same.

So when buying a cable, make sure it is certified for use in the version of the HDMI interface you need. This means that for the newer versions you will have to buy new cables if the ones you had were intended for previous generations of the interface.

HDMI version supported by each generation

HDMI resolution hz

Finally, we leave you this table, so that you can know what resolutions and refresh rate the different generations of the HDMI interface support. With this, you will be able to observe its evolution during its two decades of life in figures and know what resolutions a monitor supports according to the version of this video interface that has been implemented both to the graphic card of your PC and to the monitor to which it is connected. .

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