HDMI Forum has revealed final specifications for HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) version 2.1 which include higher refresh rates and resolutions as well as support for many useful features such as dynamic HDR (High Dynamic Range), eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) technology, among other things.
HDMI 2.1 brings support for screen resolutions up to the stellar 10K at 60Hz, that’s 10240×4320 pixels while PC gamers will be pleased with the 120Hz at 4K support. For 8k at 60Hz and onwards, you will need the new Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable with up to 48Gbps. Both the new cable as well as the HDMI 2.1 port will be backward compatible with their previous models.
For everything over 8K at 60Hz, HDMI 2.1 will be using DSC (Display Stream Compression) 1.2 with 4:2:0 chroma sampling.
Other features of HDMI 2.1 include the support for the dynamic HDR which implements its metadata with optimal brightness, contrast, color, and other settings on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis for a more immersive viewing experience, unlike the static HDR which offers the same metadata for all scenes of the video.
Furthermore, Quick Frame Support (QFS) and Auto Low Latency Mode make for lowest latency performance possible and ensure a seamless viewing experience with responsive gameplay.
With the Quick Media Switching (QMS), black screens that take place when toggling between media sources will be shorter while the enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) provides full support as well as easier control over audio devices and advanced audio formats.
Here’s a list of all the supported features HDMI 2.1 offers in comparison to the previous versions.
We have yet to see how the manufacturers plan to use this features and whether we can actually expect to, hopefully, see the variable refresh rate technology working with compatible GPUs no matter the monitor, i.e. Nvidia GeForce cards with FreeSync gaming monitors and vice versa.
HDMI 2.1 testing will take place from Q1 to Q3 in 2018, so we can likely expect products with the new HDMI 2.1 ports in 2019.
You can read more information on the official HDMI press release.