HDMI 2.1 Spec Announced
Before any of the advanced technologies we use today could enter consumer products, their specifications had to be set first, and in many cases these specs have been improved and updated over time, adding new features and capabilities. The High Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI is no exception to this and version 2.1 of the spec has been announced with a number of forward-looking goodies.
First up of these new features is support for 8K resolutions at 60 Hz and 4K and 120 Hz, so viewers can enjoy both great detail and smooth action. There is also support for Dynamic HDR, which means that in addition to support more values for color, contrast, and brightness, these values can change from scene to scene, or even frame to frame, if the image calls for it. All of these features so far require a lot of information, so HDMI 2.1 also has a new 48 Gbps cable for uncompressed data transmission. The spec maintains backwards compatibility with previous versions though, so those cables can be used with older devices and an HDMI 2.1 port may still work with older cables as well, but likely not with all of the features enabled.
Two more features coming with HDMI 2.1 is eARC support and Game Mode VRR. With eARC advanced audio formats can be used, including object-based audio which allows sounds to be placed in a virtual space and then recreated by the appropriate speakers, instead of relying on fixed audio channels requiring properly placed speakers. Game Mode VRR allows variable refresh rates to be used, reducing lag, stutter, and frame tearing like what PC gamers can enjoy with FreeSync and G-Sync, with the appropriate hardware.
The HDMI 2.1 spec should be released early Q2 2017 and all HDMI 2.0 Adopters will be notified when this happens, so they can start finding ways to add it to devices.