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High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)

HDMI, or High Definition Multimedia Interface technology developed by the HDMI Working Group in 2002, is the newest digital media interface based on the DVI-HDCP model.  While DVI handles only uncompressed, real-time digital video, HDMI can handle both digital video as well as multi-channel audio.  The most attractive feature of HDMI is that it has the ability to turn upwards of 10 separate cables, audio and video, into one easy to install, small connector cable.  There are, however, two HDMI connector types which are “Type A” which is used for consumer electronics such as televisions and DVD players, and “Type B” which was designed as a dual link for PC applications requiring frequencies above 165 MHz.

HDMI has several features that make it more attractive to the consumer electronics industry.  Among them are its Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) support based on the AV.link protocol allowing it to be controlled using a universal remote, and its bi-directional communication between HDMI devices allowing for intelligent rendering of specified formats.  Also, HDMI, like DVI, transmits uncompressed high definition video data therefore the picture maintains its high quality without losing color depth, or altering brightness or contrast.  Also, unlike DVI's 5 meter limit, HDMI cable can be run up to 15 meters when used properly.

As far as display compatibility is concerned, HDMI supports every uncompressed standard, enhanced, and high definition video format including the older PAL format.  Furthermore, HDMI’s high definition television resolutions supported are 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.  Most standard PC monitor formats are also supported by HDMI.  These include VGA, XGA, and SXGA at resolutions of 1600x1200 and beyond.

HDMI also supports uncompressed audio formats and compressed audio formats including Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, and DTS EX.  Following the DVD-Audio standard, HDMI was built to handle 1-8 uncompressed audio streams and has sample rates of 48, 96, or even 192 kHz.  Compressed multi-channel audio streams can also be handled at sample rates of 192 kHz.

Fortunately for those with numerous DVI devices, HDMI is backwards compatible with these and devices using the EIA-861 DTV profile.  The additional features of HDMI, however, including digital audio and Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), will not work on these systems.

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