The Future of HDMI: The 2.1 Standard
Updated: Mar 1
HDMI 2.1, introduced in late 2019, is a heavy revision of the previous 2.0 standard. Many display devices from 2020 and 2021, along with the newest Playstation and Xbox video game consoles, now offer at least some HDMI 2.1 capabilities.
To quickly summarize the new standard, HDMI 2.1 brings a lot more bandwidth to devices that support it. That means higher resolutions, higher frame rate, and many other attractive qualities that will soon render HDMI 2.0 an outdated technology. Here are some of the key benefits of upgrading your home systems to HDMI 2.1.
What’s in it for homeowners looking to create next-level home technology experiences? Here’s a breakdown of some of the key features HDMI 2.1 has to offer.
What is HDMI 2.1?
HDMI 2.1 is a hardware standard defining a connection method for connecting audio-visual source equipment and display devices. HDMI 2.1 nearly triples the bandwidth, or rate of data transfer, of HDMI 2.0, which is how many of the incredible features are able to operate. The standard is backwards compatible, allowing older equipment to be connected; however, to take full advantage of the functionality of HDMI 2.1, every item in the connection path will need to be HDMI 2.1 compliant.
What are the key benefits of HDMI 2.1?
Dynamic HDR - This allows HDR content to be optimised on a frame by frame basis. Clearly you're not going to want the same parameters to pick out detail in a very dark image (I’m thinking the battle of winterfell for game of thrones fans), as you have much brighter scenes.
e-ARC - This is an upgrade of the ARC that HDMI 2.0 offered. First and foremost e-ARC gets its own channel so is no longer tied up with CEC, from a Custom Install perspective this made ARC a bit of a pain to deal with. It becomes Bi directional, and offers enough bandwidth to support up to 32 channels of audio, including 8 channels of 24bit/192khz (the good stuff!).
Variable Refresh Rate - Here's one for the gamers. GPU’s can often struggle to render complex frames in the short time allowed. If they’re not able to, it can result in frame judder or tearing. VRR provides some flexibility in refresh rate, allowing the GPU to deliver at the fastest rate it can and offering a smoother visual experience.
Quick Media Switching - QMS eliminates the delay when the content format is changed. Essentially an offshoot of VRR it allows a frame to be held whilst the next is prepared and results in the removal of the blackout frame. These are often seen when moving from advertising content to the main feature due to the change in frame rate and are referred to as a ‘blackout’ or ‘bonk’. Unfortunately it can’t be used in the case of a resolution change.
Auto Low Latency Mode - During the handshake process source and sync devices exchange information allowing them to work together effectively. This is an extension of that existing process, enabling the display device to automatically select low latency mode where appropriate. ALLM disables any laggy processing features that are being used and the display is prepared to deliver it’s best gaming experience.
Quick Frame Transport – QFT removes some of the latency to improve the gaming experience. Display latency refers to the time period from a frame being ready for transport from the GPU of a source device, to the frame being completely rendered at the display. This is achieved by minimising the amount of information sent to the display through removing material in the blanking regions and only sending active video content.
Your Future Video Entertainment Experience
In summary, the HDMI 2.1 standard seems to be a big boost for the gaming world, with a lot of effort put into offering a fast and smooth gaming experience. Something we’re happy to see as it provides an opportunity to further optimise our sports simulation experiences. In addition to this, the increased bandwidth gives further scope for resolution and colour depth increases, allowing larger screens to be viewed at smaller distances whilst providing more vivid and realistic colours. For further information on how we can help with your home technology needs contact us.
We are audio visual specialists who have been delivering luxury technology solutions for residential spaces in the UK since 2010.