The first widespread HDMI 2.1 sources became available for consumers November 2020, but what does that mean for integrators? In this guide, the experts at AVPro will break down exactly how this will affect the Audio/Video distribution industry and how we can take advantage of future video technology.
WHAT SOURCES ARE BEING RELEASED?
Two HDMI 2.1 sources released in November are two consoles: the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Let’s quickly review their product specifications and launch dates:
Launch Date: November 19, 2020
XBOX Series X
Launch Date: November 15, 2020
Both consoles share similar specifications, so if your clients will use either of these, this information can be applied. Clients could use these consoles for gaming and entertainment centers, so you need to consider and discuss the state of their current audio/video installation. See if they would like to take advantage of some of the new high frame rate 4K or lower frame rate but higher resolution 8K capabilities. If so, you need to evaluate and potentially upgrade their system to support the increased bandwidth used by 120 FPS 4K and 8K content.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER FOR INTEGRATORS CURRENT INSTALLATIONS?
It is in the best interest of both the integrator and the client to address these needs early and upgrade the distribution system first to prepare. Once the video distribution is upgraded, you also benefit from preparing for other high frame rate 4K or higher resolution of 8K sources that will surely be following the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Some customers will choose not to upgrade their equipment, in these circumstances explaining how 4K at 120 FPS or 8K video will not work is up to the integrator. Having an 8K Source and Sink is nil if you don’t have the infrastructure in-between to support it.
Bandwidth required for 4K at 120 FPS and 8K content is much larger than past signals. For 4K HDR @ 120 FPS or 8K HDR @ 30 FPS you will need a minimum of 40Gbps for uncompressed video and 18Gbps for compressed video. If you want to use these consoles to their fullest and support 8K or 120fps content, you should be providing a completely uncompressed signal. If your video distribution infrastructure cannot pass 48Gbps you won’t be getting that signal at the high-end 4K 120Hz or 8K display. Even worse, the equipment’s EDID will not even allow them to change the resolution on the console, and your customer may be upset that they spent money on a high frame rate or higher resolution display that they can’t even use.
YOUR NEW SOURCE WILL PROBABLY WORK WITH OLDER A/V INFRASTRUCTURE
If the end client decides that they don’t want to upgrade their installation, the system will still work, but at less than optimal performance. HDMI 2.1 offers some new features such as Link Training that can establish the best possible bandwidth performance and adjust the video settings as necessary. This is an automatic process where the source device will send packets of data to the sink device and then check to ensure the sink device received the packets. If it fails, the settings are reduced to use less bandwidth and attempted again until the whole system can successfully pass the data to the display. This feature means while you may not get 4K at 120 FPS or 8K content delivered to your client, you will get the best possible video for the equipment that is currently installed.
WHY WOULD AN INTEGRATOR NOT UTILIZE LINK TRAINING?
If Link Training means you don’t have to upgrade your equipment chain, then why do it? Integrators are expected to provide the highest possible performance of the systems they install. To do this, you should be prepared to offer your clients a system capable of handling up to 48Gbps video. You need to ensure all equipment and cables are rated for HDMI 2.1 and 48Gbps bandwidth. The CEDIA Integrator’s job in Audio/Video is to provide the highest quality, most optimized signal possible. When your source uses Link Training to send the signal, it maybe sending a signal that is not high quality, that is not optimized for the best picture. That’s when the custom integrator must choose their products wisely, ensuring the customer is getting what they paid for.
No matter if your client decides to get the new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, AVPro Edge will continue to push technology and build tools for today’s custom integrator. From our AOC cables to our matrix switchers, AVPro continues to adopt and support the best audio/video technologies available.
If you need to upgrade your video distribution beyond 18Gbps, keep an eye out for more information on the AVPro Edge 48Gbps matrix switcher in the works!