A Better HDMI Standard On the Way

Last week at Computex, Global Tech News brought you coverage of some of the new graphics cards that were being announced with support for the HDMI interface. The interface is herald to be the definitive standard for audio/video equipment, both for the home theater and the desktop and media center space. HIS revealed its lineup of HDMI capable graphics cards and earlier this year; Universal Abit announced motherboards supporting HDMI too. With all the new HDMI-compliant products that are starting to come out, consumers were starting to finally have their fears soothed about conflicting standards.

This week however, it looks like users who were looking forward to start picking up HDMI-compliant devices will have something to think about yet again. In an announcement, the HDMI group which is composed of a large number of companies said that the HDMI specification will be upgraded to a new version. Called HDMI 1.3, the new specification will support a feature called “deep color,” allowing devices to process and display a great number of colors. Increased bandwidth is also part of the new specification. HDMI 1.3 will be upgraded to 225MHz, from 165MHz on the current HDMI specification. In fact, the group indicated that HDMI can go up to 450MHz if need be. The increased bandwidth will allow displays to handle 1080i at 60Hz with 36-bit RGB color or 1080p with 90Hz refresh rate with 36-bit color.

Resolutions and refresh rates aside however, the specification has support for 30-bit, 36-bit or even 48-bit RGB. According to a report on ExtremeTech, the ITU 601 standard governs today’s displays, whether they are computer LCDs or plasma TVs and are limiting the number of colors that can be displayed.

HDMI LLC president Leslie Chard said that ATI and NVIDIA can incorporate the new HDMI standard into GPUs and cards easily, and that Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 3 already has support for “deep color”. In fact, both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD specifications call for support of “deep color” but neither side has announced any support for it or that of any feature part of HDMI 1.3.

Unfortunately for early adopters, the new features of HDMI 1.3 are not currently available and cannot be simply enabled by a firmware upgrade or a driver update. The new HDMI 1.3 will also support Dolby HD and DTS-HD audio standards, which are an upgrade over the current Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS standards.

Global Tech News has been reporting on a number of display standards to emerge this year. They include: HDMI, UDI and DisplayPort. Interestingly, most these technologies have not yet been available to consumers.

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