The HDMI spec has been steadily updated since its inception, with the last major update, version 1.4, giving us 4K support for the first time over one cable. While that is useful for many applications, with more and more productions and live broadcasts eventually going to 4K (some even to 60fps), it's a major step for the spec. Read on for some of the other updates in the brand new 2.0 specification.
Some of what's new in the updated spec:
HDMI 2.0 significantly increases bandwidth to 18Gbps and includes the following advanced features:
- Resolutions up to 4K@50/60 (2160p), which is 4 times the clarity of 1080p/60 video resolution, for the ultimate video experience
- Up to 32 audio channels for a multi-dimensional immersive audio experience
- Up to 1536kHz audio sample frequency for the highest audio fidelity
- Simultaneous delivery of dual video streams to multiple users on the same screen
- Simultaneous delivery of multi-stream audio to multiple users (Up to 4)
- Support for the wide angle theatrical 21:9 video aspect ratio
- Dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams
- CEC extensions provide more expanded command and control of consumer electronics devices through a single control point
Whether you'll need new cables:
No, HDMI 2.0 features will work with existing HDMI cables. Higher bandwidth features, such as 4K@50/60 (2160p) video formats, will require existing High Speed HDMI cables (Category 2 cables).
So while it's mostly backwards compatible, you'll still need the newer cables to take advantage of the higher specs, like 4K 60fps -- but thankfully all of these cables will work the other way around. Even though 60fps may not be necessary for on-set viewing in many cases, there are situations where it could definitely be useful. What is huge in the upgraded spec is the fact that so much can now be sent over one single cable, including sending multiple video and audio streams without needing additional cables. Since the cables don't feature a locking mechanism and they are generally less flexible, they haven't quite found their way into professional settings as much, but it's clear that the new HDMI spec is not messing around, as the 18Gbps (Gigabits per second, or 2.25 Gigabytes per second) maximum bandwidth now surpasses 3G and 6G-SDI by quite a bit (with the latter not even official yet).
You can read more about it over in the HDMI FAQ section.