4K, 5K, 8K, 10K?
In talking about our fiber and our 8K UHD HDMI Active Optical Cables, we’ve had many questions and conversations about display resolution. Resolutions keep increasing, and technology must change to meet demand. Even though, for example, little 8K content is available today, the A/V industry is already preparing to support 8K and above. The new HDMI 2.1 Specification also demands this move, requiring support for 4K@120Hz, 8K and up to 10K. Many of the changes within the HDMI 2.1 spec allow major improvements to display performance, offering a more seamless experience for media applications, gaming, and more.
Better experiences, and especially better uncompressed experiences, require higher bandwidth. The best way to accommodate increasing bandwidth is through fiber, whether as a bulk cable or within an active optical cable.
What are the differences between today’s common resolutions, and what kinds of bandwidth do they require? The experts at Murideo have compiled a thorough breakdown of different resolutions and bandwidth requirements within the HDMI 2.1 specification. Download a copy here.
We’ve included some featured uncompressed vs compressed bandwidth information from the chart, but please refer to the full document for details.
Additionally check out the Murideo HDMI 2.1 Bandwidth Calculator for even more resolution, refresh rate, bit depth, and chroma sampling combinations.
Pixel Dimensions: 3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels
Compared to HD: (1920 x 1080, or 2,073,600 pixels) = 4 times the pixels
Max Compressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 18 Gbps, up to 4K120 4:4:4, 12 Bit
Max Uncompressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 48 Gbps, 4K120 4:4:4:, 12 Bit
At this point, 4K almost seems like old news. 4K TV prices dropped dramatically in 2015, making this resolution the new normal. The trouble with 4K has been delivering an uncompromised, uncompressed signal.
Providing Ultra High Definition 4K signal transmission is the most important feature of our 8K UHD HDMI Active Optical Cables– for today’s installations. 48 Gbps is no problem whatsoever for these cables. They also provide High Dynamic Range and Wide Color Gamut. All the capabilities you need for excellent picture quality are present and ready to go.
Pixel Dimensions: 5120 x 2880 = 14,745,600 pixels *
*5K is more commonly listed at 5120 x 2880 pixels for monitors. Also listed as 5120 x 2160
Compared to HD: 7.1 x the pixels
Max Compressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 18 Gbps, up to 5K120
Max Uncompressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 40 Gbps, 5K120 4:4:4:, 8 Bit
What even is 5K? 5K is a wider screen resolution. This is a resolution that’s more commonly seen for monitors (especially those by Apple and LG), and it’s more applicable to gaming systems. Will we see high volumes of video content specifically for 5K? Doubtful. The next video jump will be to 8K.
Pixel Dimensions: 7680 x 4320 = 33,177,600 pixels
Compared to HD: 16 times the pixels
Compared to 4K: 4 times the pixels
Max Compressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 40 Gbps, up to 8K120 4:4:4, 8-12 Bit
Max Uncompressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 48 Gbps, 8K30 4:4:4, 12 Bit or 8K60 4:2:0:, 12 Bit
8K will be the next stop for general video content. There is currently very limited content for 8K available, and displays are at a premium cost. This is where we all were with 4K circa 2014 and earlier. It’s the same transition process. In the next few years, 8K displays will probably be at a consumer-accessible price point, which will hasten wider adoption of this format. Already, parts of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics were broadcast in 8K. This is a resolution to be prepared for, which is why our 8K UHD HDMI Active Optical Cables have all the capabilities necessary for 8K Ultra High Definition transmission.
Pixel Dimensions: 10240 x 4320 = 44,236,800 pixels
Compared to HD: 21.3 times the pixels
Compared to 4K: 5.33 times the pixels
Max Compressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 48 Gbps, up to 10K120 4:2:2, 8-12 Bit
Max Uncompressed Bandwidth (HDMI 2.1): 40 Gbps, 10K60 4:2:0, 8 Bit
Like 5K, 10K is a wider resolution. It’s the same height as 8K. LG displayed a 10K interactive video wall in 2019.
Again, just as 5K is to 4K, this looks to be a display resolution mainly seen only in monitors and gaming systems. We probably won’t see too much video shot specifically in 10K resolution.
HDR, Wide Color Gamut, and More
Common resolutions like 1080p, 4K, and 8K indicate the number of pixels on a screen. While this is very important, image quality is not determined by pixels alone. Additional advancements – all of which require higher bandwidth signals – also help bring more realistic images to your displays.
High Dynamic Range
Dynamic range also makes a huge difference in overall image quality. High Dynamic Range means a wider scale of brightness levels can be shown, resulting in more realistic images. Unlike Standard Dynamic Range (SDR), HDR maintains a high level of detail in shadows without bright areas of the screen appearing washed out or overexposed. Basically, HDR means the screen’s light and dark contrast is more similar to what the human eye actually sees.
Wide Color Gamut
Color gamut covers the range of colors that can be displayed. Devices that support Wide Color Gamut (like 4K and 8K devices) are able to show a wider span of colors, again getting closer to what the eye actually perceives.
Bit depth controls gradation in color – high bit depth means more color information is held within the image. Over a billion colors are available to 10-bit displays, compared to 16 million for 8-bit displays. For more detail on all these features, check out this Eizo article.
Is Your Installation Ready?
No one wants to have replace cabling. To stay up-to-date, make sure to choose technologies, like fiber, that can handle increased bandwidth and high resolutions. Improved compression ratios and uncompressed experiences, as mentioned earlier, are already driving the need for greater bandwidth (especially to support all of our streaming habits). Fiber is ideally placed to deliver the right experience.