Jared Norman | Dec 12, 2013
Cables are not the most attractive technology, especially when compared to gaming consoles, speakers, and HDTVs. But, attractive or not, without cables all of those awesome devices won’t work. It used to be that there were a myriad of different cables for every aspect of home entertainment, but HDMI has changed all of that. HDMI is one cable that can be used for almost everything in your home entertainment system.
But HDMI has changes versions so many times it can be hard to keep up with the different versions. Here are all the versions and what features they offer.
HDMI 1.0 remains sufficient for many purposes. It’s a backwards compatible format that can handle pretty much all of the HD audio formats out there. The key is having a player that can decode native HD formats to uncompressed PCM audio. Some formats, like DSD and DVD-audio can’t be sent natively over HDMI 1.0.
However, there are a lot of things that HDMI 1.0 can’t do. It doesn’t support 3D, Deep Color, 4K Ultra HD, and more, which come in later versions.
- Single cable digital audio/video connection
- Max bitrate of 4.9 Gbps
- Supports up to 165 Megapixel/sec video (1080p at 60Hz)
- 8-channels of 192 kHz/24 bit audio (PCM)
HDMI 1.1 added the ability to transmit DVD-audio. This was the first spec to hit the mass market.
- Added support for DVD-audio
- Slight mechanical and electrical spec changes
HDMI 1.2 was the biggest jump since the introduction of HDMI. It was an attempt to bring the PC market into focus and compete with the new DisplayPort standard.
- Added Direct Stream Digital (DSD) support, allowing the native transmission of Super Audio CD (SACD) content
- HDMI Type A connector for PC-based sources
- Allowed PC sources to use native RGB color with the optional ability to support YCbCr color for consumer electronics
- Mandated that HDMI 1.2 and later displays support low-voltage sources such as those found with PCI Express technology
This was a very small change that clarified consumer electronic control (CEC), a feature that promised smart interoperation between different components. However, this feature wasn’t standardized so most manufacturers’ products only work within their own brands.
- Fully specified Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) features, compliance tests, and command sets
- Minor changes to CEC
The increased bandwidth requirements made this update a disaster. This was mainly because the new requirements made it so that passive HDMI cables couldn’t go as far as they had previously. Before HDMI 1.3, passive HDMI cables could go around 50 feet, with HDMI 1.3, that distance shrank to less than 20 feet, causing failures across the industry.
Active solutions began to be available to try and solve some of the distance problems, but they were expensive. Even today there a lot of people are confused about cable certifications and how far a signal can reliably travel across a cable. The positive thing about this update is that it allowed for Deep Color or the use of the xvYCC expanded color space.
- Increased bandwidth to 340Mhz (10.2 Gbps)
- Optionally supports Deep Color (10-bit, 12-bit, and 16-bit color per channel) up from True Color (8-bit color per channel)
- Allowed the use of xvYCC color space (over sRGB or YCbCr)
- Automatic audio lip syncing capability
- Supports output of native Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams for external decoding
- Made available a new Type C “mini” connector for devices such as camcorders
This was an incremental change, mostly and adjustment for manufacturers using CEC and Type C connectors. There are no practical differences between 1.3 and 1.3a.
- Cable sink modifications for Type C
- Source termination recommendation
- Removed undershoot and maximum rise/fall time limit
- CEC capacitance limits changed
- RGB video range clarification
- Audio control commands added to CEC
- Compliance test specification included
Mar 2007/Nov 2007/Aug 2008
These versions define testing for products based on the 1.3a specs. There's no difference in features, function, or performance over the HDMI 1.3a spec.
HDMI 1.4 was a major update that brings support for 3D, Ethernet, bi-directional audio communications, and increased support for digital color space standards for digital photography and computer applications.
- Ethernet over HDMI
- Audio Return Channel: This allows an HDMI-connected TV with a built-in tuner to send data back to a surround sound audio system, making it so you don’t need an extra audio cable
- 3D Support: Defines input/output protocols for major 3D video formats
- Support for 4k Ultra HD resolutions at 24 Hz, 25 Hz, and 30 Hz
- Additional Color Spaces: Adds support for sYCC601, AdobeRBG, and AdobeYCC601 for computer graphics and digital photography
- Real-time signaling of content types between display and source, enabling your TV to optimize settings based on content
- HDMI Micro Connector
- Automotive Connection System
Mar 2010/Oct 2011
Incremental changes adding 3D format for broadcast content and full 1080p display of 3D content
This is another major update that increases bandwidth to 18 Gbps and includes increased support for 4k video, including dual video to the same display. The increased bandwidth also allows you to watch 4k content at a full 50 or 60 fps, which is necessary for gaming or live TV.
Additionally, with HDMI 1.4 you can only watch 4k content in True Color (8-bit color per channel), but HDMI 2.0 allows you to watch 4k content with Deep Color (10 or 12-bits per channel).
- Increased bandwidth to 18 Gbps
- Resolutions of up to 4k at 50 and 60 fps
- Up to 32 audio channels
- Up to 1536 kHz audio sample frequency
- Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen
- Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to up to 4 users
- Support for wide angle 21:9 theatrical aspect ratio
- Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
- Updated CEC extensions for more expanded command and control of consumer electronics devices through a single control point
- Support for 4:2:0 chroma subsampling
- Support for 25 fps 3D formats
- Backwards compatible with high speed (category 2) HDMI cables