New HDMI Spec to Support 3-D And 4K HD

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HDMI Licensing LLC is about to release its new 1.4
specification, which would add a number of important features to the high-definition
multimedia interface (HDMI).

The new spec would allow HDMI to handle 3-D HD content and 4K
high-definition formats used in digital cinemas, which have much higher
resolution than the 2K or 1080p content available on Blu-ray disc.

In addition, HDMI 1.4 will make it much easier to connect
various devices and to watch HD content from the Internet and other sources on HDTVs.

Using the 100 Megabyte-per-second Ethernet channel that is
part of HDMI 1.4, new televisions or home-theater systems could become the
center of an Internet-protocol network that would connect multiple devices,
making it much easier to move HD content between devices and to access online
content.

"HDMI 1.4 offers a fundamental sea change in the way the
home theater acts," said HDMI Licensing president Steve Venuti.

"With the Ethernet capabilities of HDMI 1.4, we are now
talking about a two-way, bi-directional communication," Venuti said. "The
television is not just a central display for all the content you receive. It is
also the central hub of all information and data that can be channeled around
the home-theater network. This means the home theater will begin to act like an
IP network."

This could open up a number of opportunities for
multichannel-video providers and set-top box manufacturers to provide home-networking
services, added HDMI Licensing technology evangelist Jeff Park.

"One obvious application is in home distribution of content
from one master set-top box," Parks said. "Theoretically, you could have one
box and multiple TVs."

But the Ethernet channel and the transformation of the home
theater into the center of an IP network will make it much easier for consumers
to access HD video from a variety of outside sources, including over-the-top
content from the Internet, a trend that has worried many multichannel-TV
operators.

"We see that as the primary near-term use," Venuti said. "You
can do it now but it isn't easy. This will mean that having access to all that
stuff becomes part of the infrastructure."

The new spec will also offer support for micro-HDMI
connectors. "It means that more and more devices like cell phones can become
sources of HD content," Venuti said.

Other features include an Automotive Connection System
cabling specification for in-vehicle HD content and an audio return channel
that would eliminate an extra cord in homes using a CableCard.

HDMI Licensing is expected to make the 1.4 specification
available to vendors by June 30th, who can then decide how they want to
incorporate its capabilities into various devices. Based on how quickly earlier
HDMI came to market, Venuti expects the top consumer-electronics manufacturers
to begin offering HDMI 1.4 capabilities on higher-end TVs and other devices
prior to this year's Christmas selling season, with more products becoming
available throughout 2010.

HDMI Licensing was able to create a specification that would
handle 3-D and 4K content without increasing the capacity of HDMI, Venuti noted.

"The 1080p content takes up less than half of the 10.2
Gigabytes per second available with HDMI, so we didn't have to bump up the
bandwidth," Venuti said. "We're just fully utilizing the bandwidth."

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