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Announced during CES 2017, HDMI 2.1 has some new and exciting features that will enable future support for the ever changing and evolving display and TV markets.
One of the most notable features is a huge increase in bandwidth from its 2.0 predecessor; 48Gbps vs 18Gbps. With this increased bandwidth, the new spec will handle 4K @ 60 (4:4:4), 8K @ 60 (4:4:4) and all the way up to 10K @ 100/120.
To get this resolution you’ll need a new cable. At this point it is unclear as to the distance limits of 48Gbps, or which technology will be used to get max resolution at distances greater than two meters.
Unlike HDR-10 (added to the HDMI 2.0a spec-as referenced in CTA 861.3 ) which handles high dynamic range information at initial hand-shake, Dynamic HDR swaps information with the display scene by scene (even frame by frame) allowing enhanced and finer control of color and brightness levels throughout the video. While HDR is supported with the previous HDMI versions, getting Dynamic HDR at 8K will require a new 2.1 cable.
Game Mode VRR
Game Mode VRR or Variable Refresh Rate allowing source and display to maintain a perfect 1 to 1 refresh rate synch across a frequency range further improving motion fluidity and reducing lag, stutter or even screen tearing. Requiring a new 2.1 cable, GM VRR will work at 4Kp120 and 8Kp60 resolutions.
Audio upgrades Include eARC supporting the most advanced formats such as object-based audio (think Dolby Atmos & DTS-X). Dolby Digital provided each speaker its own discreet audio track allowing the engineer to direct sounds to each speaker at predetermined levels. Dolby Atmos and DTS-X or “object-based audio” allows your sound system to direct sounds to where the speakers are in the room - regardless of how many speakers you have.
With this increased bandwidth, the new spec will handle 4K @ 60 (4:4:4), 8K @ 60 (4:4:4) and all the way up to 10K @ 100/120. To get this resolution you'll need a new cable.
Higher Video Resolutions
HDMI 2.1 can support the very latest color spaces including BT.2020 parameter values @ 10, 12 and 16 bits per color component therefore covering much more of the visible spectrum and wide color gamut.
HDMI 2.1 does require a new HDMI cable. Using the same standard (A, C, and D) connectors as previous versions to support the increased bandwidth of [up to] 48Gbps. At this point distance is TBD.
Date initially releases
Maximum Bandwidth (Gbps)
Maximum LPCM Audio Channels
Maximum Audio Sampling Rate
eARC Object Based
48Gbps vs. 18Gbps in HDMI version 2.0. This will require a new cable beyond the shortest lengths.
Max resolution of 10K @ 100/120 refresh, getting (and 8K @ 60 444) this resolution requires a new cable
Connectors will not change
HDMI ver 2.1 is backward compatible with previous versions
HDMI ver 2.1 covers more of the visible spectrum and color gamut with BT.2020 @ 10, 12, and 16 bits per color component
HDMI ver 2.1 brings enhanced and finer control of brightness levels throughout the video with Dynamic HDR
Game Mode Variable Refresh Rate (or, GM VRR) offers perfect 1:1 refresh sync across the frequency range improving motion fluidity, lag reduction, sputter or screen-tear
eARC introduces object-based audio
New HDMI 2.1 specs to be released to adopters in Q2 ‘17
What is the relationship of HDMI Specification 2.1 to HDMI 2.0b and 1.4b Specifications?
HDMI 2.1 Specification supersedes 2.0b and 2.1 continues to make reference to, and rely upon, HDMI 1.4b Specification.
Is HDMI 2.1 Specification backwards compatible with previous versions of the specification?
Will existing HDMI High Speed cables deliver the HDMI 2.1 features also?
While existing HDMI High Speed Cables with Ethernet can deliver some of the new features, the new cable is the best way to connect HDMI 2.1 enabled devices to ensure delivery of all the features.
What are the support resolutions and frame rates for HDMI 2.1?
What color space is supported?
HDMI 2.1 Specification supports the latest color spaces including BT.2020 with 10, 12, and 16 bits per color component.
Can this new cable work with existing HDMI devices?
The cable is backwards compatible and can be used with existing HDMI devices for the delivery of legacy HDMI features.
Will 8K@60 or 4K@120 require a new cable or cable connector?
Yes, a new cable is required.
What connectors will the new cable use?
It is compatible with HDMI connectors Types A, C and D.
Is this cable required for delivering HDMI 2.1 Specification features?
The cable is the best way to ensure the high-bandwidth dependent features are delivered including the enhanced video and audio performance, and accounting for the new EMI characteristics.
When will the details, spec info, and testing requirements be available?
According to HDMI.org details will be available Q2 ‘17.
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