Skip to main content

HDMI 2.0 Is Being Relabeled as HDMI 2.1

HDMI plugging into laptop port
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you thought the naming scheme for USB ports was confusing, get ready to see the same thing happen to HDMI. According to a report from TFT Central, HDMI 2.0 is being dropped as an official name altogether and will be replaced by HDMI 2.1. We don't know the official reasoning behind this major name change, but it seems like it will foster confusion and create problems for consumers going forward. The DisplayPort vs. HDMI discussion just became a lot more difficult.

Before this news dropped, HDMI 2.1 was originally a full-on upgrade over HDMI 2.0b in terms of resolution and raw bandwidth, with some extra features tacked on. The biggest selling point to HDMI 2.1 was its bandwidth upgrade from 18Gbps on HDMI 2.0b to a whopping 48Gbps with HDMI 2.1. This allows HDMI 2.1 to push resolutions of up to 10k and support high refresh rate 120Hz displays at 4k resolutions without the need for display stream compression (DSC), a lossy algorithm to reduce bandwidth requirements.

The higher resolution support was achievable thanks to HDMI 2.1's use of Fixed Rate Link signaling. According to HDMI.org, that was a necessity achieve higher uncompressed resolutions beyond 4k 60Hz, and it allowed HDMI 2.1 to reach the required 48Gbps of bandwidth to deliver those higher resolutions. This technology is different from the older TMDS (Transition Minimised Differential Signalling) used on older HDMI interfaces, which cannot support anything close to the HDMI 2.1 requirements. But, TMDS is still supported on HDMI 2.1 as a backward compatibility feature.

HDMI 2.1 also added several new features to further improve the revision update, including built-in variable refresh rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode, Display Stream Compression 1.2a, and more.

But now, according to HDMI.org, HDMI 2.1 is getting a major fitment change as it is no longer a successor to HDMI 2.0, but rather HDMI 2.0 will now be called HDMI 2.1. Where are all the features and bandwidth upgrades going from HDMI 2.1?? These will now be optional upgrades to HDMI 2.1, including its main selling point of providing higher resolution support.

In other words, what was once a full upgrade over HDMI 2.0 has now turned into an optional upgrade, with every single feature and benefit of HDMI 2.1 being an optional extra for the "new" HDMI 2.1 standard.

Needless to say, that potentially makes shopping for an HDMI 2.1 display or TV a far more complex and confusing prospect. Assuming most manufacturers switch to using the HDMI 2.1 nomenclature, the only way to tell if something supports the higher bandwidth and extra features of the "artist formerly known as HDMI 2.1" will be to dig around for specs.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • hotaru.hino
    Oh great, let's add more confusion like with USB-C.
    Reply
  • King_V
    I mean, seriously . . Double Yew . . Tee . . Eff??!

    What the hell are they trying to accomplish with this?
    Reply
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    King_V said:
    I mean, seriously . . Double Yew . . Tee . . Eff??!

    What the hell are they trying to accomplish with this?
    I've heard a lot of the HDMI 2.1 receivers and TVs can have... problems. I don't know if that's true from personal experience (still using a relatively inexpensive 4K 58-inch TV), but if so this might be HDMI trying to sweep things under the rug. Not a good look changing specs and naming like this!
    Reply
  • gargoylenest
    if those upgrade from 2.1 are to be options, wouldn't it be more logical that they'd be 2.0 with mentioned upgrades? Will they be downgrading requirement for 2.0, or is it just gonna disappear? and last question, who is selling crack to those guys?
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    gargoylenest said:
    if those upgrade from 2.1 are to be options, wouldn't it be more logical that they'd be 2.0 with mentioned upgrades? Will they be downgrading requirement for 2.0, or is it just gonna disappear? and last question, who is selling crack to those guys?
    From the way it looks like it, 2.0 and 2.1 are the same now, only the features from 2.1 are now optional.
    Reply
  • SiliconHillGames
    hotaru.hino said:
    From the way it looks like it, 2.0 and 2.1 are the same now, only the features from 2.1 are now optional.
    My cheap 4K TV only has HDMI 2.0b ports which also does VRR (variable refresh rate) , ALLM (auto low latency Mode) and 120hz in 1080p the only thing i don't get with with HDMI 2.0b is 4k@ 120hz as far as I'm aware so not that bothered about HDMI 2.1 or should be called HDMI 2.0c now lol
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    SiliconHillGames said:
    My cheap 4K TV only has HDMI 2.0b ports which also does VRR (variable refresh rate) , ALLM (auto low latency Mode) and 120hz in 1080p the only thing i don't get with with HDMI 2.0b is 4k@ 120hz as far as I'm aware so not that bothered about HDMI 2.1 or should be called HDMI 2.0c now lol
    The problem is HDMI 2.1 is a significant upgrade. Though if I were to be honest, the average person won't care about HDMI 2.0 or 2.1 or whatever. They just care if their TV does 8K or 4K 120 or some feature they want that's tied to the interface anyway.
    Reply
  • dalek1234
    First, the made HDMI 2.1 features (apart from speed) optional, and now they are allowing HDMI 2.0 to be labeled as 2.1, and ALL the 2.1 features (including speed) are optional. So as a manufacturer, I can basically just take an old 2.0 monitor/tv change the "0" to a "1", add nothing new, and I've just increased my sales because were waiting for HDMI 2.1 tv/monitor to be released before making a purchase.

    "HDMI.org" gets paid a royalty for every HDMI device sold out there. I bet they did this to increase unit sales to line their pockets, while screwing a lot of uninformed consumers.

    EFFERS!
    Reply
  • Sluggotg
    Gee HDMI.org, why not just call every HDMI spec, 2.1? That is the path your going down. When I go to buy a new receiver and TV, I need to know specific capabilities. Just changing it so 2.0 is equal to 2.1 does nothing good. There is literally no consumer that would benefit from that. It would be like in the days of renting/buying video taped movies... what if they just called all Beta and VHS.. Beta. You buy it and boom, it may or may not work.
    This is just like USB.org. A shockingly stupid group that is letting Marketing Morons name versions. You can't call something USB 4? or when they would not allow manufacturers label the cables with version numbers? ( You could put the stupid names.. Super Speed? Super Duper Speed? Gone Plaid? (Space Balls Reference).
    Reply