A new version of the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable has been announced by the industry alliance responsible for licensing the specification.

HDMI Licensing said the upgraded 1.4 version of HDMI will make it easier to connect Internet-connected HD video devices to TVs and other appliances.

The new cable will be able to transfer Internet data as well as video and audio data – something that the existing version isn’t able to do.

It will mean users can get rid of the Ethernet cables connecting every web-connected device. It transfers data at up to 100 megabits per second.

According to market research firm In-Stat, over 394 million HDMI-enabled devices are expected to ship in 2009, with an installed base of 1 billion devices.

By the end of 2009 100 per cent of digital televisions are expected to have at least one HDMI input.

Among the other improvements offered by the new HDMI version are networking capabilities with Ethernet connectivity and an Audio Return Channel to enable upstream audio connections via the HDMI cable.

Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, said the the 1.4 specification will support some of the most exciting and powerful near-term innovations, such as Ethernet connectivity and 3D formats.

"Additionally, we are going to broaden our solution by providing a smaller connector for portable devices and a connection system specified for automobiles, as we see both more and different devices adopting the HDMI technology," he said.

Venuti said consumers will also see new HDMI cables introduced to the market.

In order to take advantage of the HDMI Ethernet Channel, consumers will need to purchase either a Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet, or a High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet.

Consumers connecting an external device to an in-vehicle HDMI-enabled HD system will need the new Automotive HDMI cable.

Functions offered by the HDMI 1.4 specification include:

  • HDMI Ethernet Channel: The HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application.
  • The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices.
  • Audio Return Channel: The new specification will add an Audio Return Channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the A/V receiver over the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable.
  • 3D Over HDMI: The 1.4 version of the specification will define common 3D formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices. The specification will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.
  • 4K x 2K Resolution Support: The new specification will enable HDMI devices to support high-definition (HD) resolutions four times beyond the resolution of 1080p. Support for 4K x 2K will allow the HDMI interface to transmit content at the same resolution as many digital theaters. Formats supported include:  3840×2160 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz and 4096×2160 24Hz
  • Expanded Support For Color Spaces: HDMI technology now supports color spaces designed specifically for digital still cameras. By supporting sYCC601, Adobe RGB and AdobeYCC601, HDMI-enabled display devices will be capable of reproducing more accurate life-like colors when connected to a digital still camera.
  • Micro HDMI Connector: The Micro HDMI Connector is a significantly smaller 19-pin connector that supports up to 1080p resolutions for portable devices. This new connector is approximately 50 per cent smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector.
  • Automotive Connection System: The Automotive Connection System is a cabling specification designed to be used as the basis for in-vehicle HD content distribution. The HDMI 1.4 specification will provide a solution designed to meet the rigors and environmental issues commonly found in automobiles, such as heat, vibration and noise. Using the Automotive Connection System, automobile manufactures will now have a viable solution for distributing HD content within the car

The HDMI specification 1.4 will be available for download no later than June 30, 2009.

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