What is HDMI 2.0?
Officially unveiled at IFA 2013 by the HDMI Forum, HDMI 2.0 is an improved standard for AV connectivity and the heir apparent to HDMI 1.4 (released back in 2009). You'll need an HDMI 2.0-compatible HD TV if you're interested in watching the full range of 4K Ultra HD source material in the future.
Hey, wait. Doesn't HDMI 1.4 support 4K Ultra HD?
Yes it does. But there's a problem. As its name suggests, '4K' is four times the resolution of 1080p Full HD and it actually requires more bandwidth than the current HDMI 1.4 spec can handle.
While HDMI 1.4 has a throughput of 10.2Gbps, it's only enough to support a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels at 24, 25 and 30Hz or to display full 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) at 24Hz. The 2160p24 and 2160p30 formats might be good enough for movie playback, but they fall short of the 50/60Hz required for 4K TV broadcasts and future Ultra HD gaming.
HDMI 1.4 also only supports 8-bit colour at 4K. HDMI 2.0 improves upon this, offering 10 to 12-bit colour depth at Ultra HD resolutions.
So what's the full HDMI 2.0 spec?
HDMI 2.0 doesn't quite double the throughput of HDMI 1.4, but it ramps it up to 18Gbps. This enables a whole host of enhancements and features, which include:
- 4K Ultra HD at 50/60Hz - i.e. 2160p50 and 2160p60 - four times the clarity of 1080p60
- Up to 32 uncompressed digital audio channels (compared to HDMI 1.4's eight)
- Up to 1536kHz audio sampling
- Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users (on the same screen)
- Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (up to four)
- Support for 21:9 aspect ratios
- Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
- Additional CEC extensions for remote controls.
Does this mean that HDMI 1.4 is obsolete?
Far from it. HDMI 2.0 is fully backwards compatible with HDMI 1.4 and it features the same 19-pin connectors.
Will I need to buy new HDMI 2.0 cables?
That depends. You can use your existing HDMI cables with new HDMI 2.0 connections as the connectors themselves haven't changed. While there's no such thing as an HDMI 2.0 cable per se, displaying 4K at 50/60Hz will require a High Speed/Category 2 HDMI cable.