CES 2017: HDMI 2.1 Brings 8K/10K Video, Variable Refresh, and Dynamic HDR

HDMI 2.1 is bringing support for even higher resolutions than 4K, adaptive refresh rates, and frame-by-frame HDR.

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We’re just getting used to the 4K standard, and the HDMI Forum has revealed at CES 2017 that support for 8K and 10K video is coming with the HDMI 2.1 specification. HDMI 2.1 will also support Dynamic HDR and a “Game Mode VRR” which features variable fresh rate capabilities.

A host of new resolutions are being supported in HDMI 2.1 with the most practical highlights being 4K 120Hz and 8K 60Hz which we’ll be likely to see in the next generation of HD displays. The full list of resolutions supported by HDMI 2.1 are:

  • 4K50/60
  • 4K100/120
  • 5K50/60
  • 5K100/120
  • 8K50/60
  • 8K100/120
  • 10K50/60
  • 10K100/120

Dynamic HDR will also become available with HDMI 2.1 and will provide wider color gamuts, and allow for HDR tuning on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis. For gaming, the “Game Mode VRR” being introduced seems to be to TVs what G-Sync and FreeSync are to monitors. With Game Mode VRR a TV will be capable of a variable refresh rate which should reduce stutter, lag, and frame-tearing. This could allow console games to finally target the max capable refresh rate rather than just aiming for 30 or 60 fps.

Unfortunately for consumers, some of these new features require a new cable. The HDMI 2.1 48G cable being introduced to enable up to 48Gbps uncompressed data will be necessary for 8K video with HDR, and Game Mode VRR if used with 4K/120Hz or 8K/60Hz resolution. Fortunately, the new 48G HDMI cables will be backward compatible with older HDMI standards.

The HDMI 2.1 compliance test specification won’t be available until Summer or Fall of 2017, so don’t expect to see new devices using the standard soon. However, once it begins to be adopted, manufacturers can bring some of their currently available devices up to HDMI 2.1 specifications via firmware updates, so be on the look out for and improvements your devices may receive in the coming year.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty