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HDMI 2.1 is currently the most advanced HDMI AV connectivity specification and introduces a number of new features that impact commercial AV applications. This new spec introduces an increased range of higher video resolutions (up to 10K), refresh rates (up to 120Hz), dynamic HDR, and a total bandwidth of up to 48Gbps. Additionally, it defines a new cable type, Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable–an evolution of the Premium High Speed HDMI Cable.
HDMI 2.1 specs support higher spatial resolutions and improved frame rates including 8K 60Hz and 4K 120Hz. These provide for improved display of full-speed motion that is common with sports, action movies, gaming, and virtual reality (VR). Additionally, other resolutions, including 5K and 10K, have been defined for commercial AV, industrial, and specialty uses.
HDMI 2.1 specs leverage dynamic HDR which optimizes displayed video on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis. Dynamic HDR provides an extended contrast range providing darker blacks and brighter whites, along with greater image detail in all color spaces of the image.
HDMI 2.1 specs introduce this new HDMI cable type that is an evolution of the Premium High Speed HDMI Cables. These cables are designed, tested, and certified with the HDMI 2.1 specification and bandwidth requirements in mind. The good news is that this new HDMI cable type is backwards compatible, supporting all previous HDMI specifications.
Though it is explicitly stated that the certification program is mandatory for any cable that carries the Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable name, it is not clear that this cable type is a requirement to support all HDMI 2.1 features. It's important to examine the language that is used to describe these cables. It is stated that the Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable "the only cable that complies with the stringent specifications designed to ensure support for all HDMI 2.1 features". As stated in our HDMI 2.0 specs page, bandwidth and length are inversely proportional to one another. This means that any short HDMI cable is likely to support HDMI 2.1 features. The important caveats here are that, not all HDM 2.1 features may be supported simultaneously and length is likely to be very limited for non-Ultra High Speed cable supporting HDMI 2.1 features.
In addition to the features listed above, HDMI 2.1 specs introduce other features including:
|Full HD Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD video|
|Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)|
|Super Audio CD (DSD)||—||—|
|Dolby TrueHD / DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable||—||—||—|
|Updated list of CEC commands||—||—||—|
|Ethernet channel (100Mbps)||—||—||—||—|
|Audio return channel (ARC)||—||—||—||—|
|4 audio streams||—||—||—||—||—|
|2 video streams (Dual View)||—||—||—||—||—|
|Enhanced audio return channel (eARC)||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Quick Media Switching (QMS)||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Quick Frame Transport (QFT)||—||—||—||—||—||—|