Lifeline to the latest

A revision of HDMI offers many opportunities for integrators, but there are lessons to learn. Jeffrey Boccaccio introduces an educational series.

The HDMI interface will continue to dominate display devices as the latest version becomes widespread.

The introduction of HDMI 2.1 represents a big change that will require integrators to boost their knowledge and understanding of this ‘lifeblood’ of AV integration and display devices.

However, HDMI isn’t anything more than other high-speed interfaces, such as USB or Sata, and it has had its issues.

DPL Labs is a test and measurements business that has been detecting, inspecting, and rejecting HDMI products since the Standard’s inception. This initiative was an effort to reduce or eliminate problems in commercial and consumer AV integration parodied by the expression ‘plug and pray’.

Commercial and home integration relies heavily on video. Just about every commercial and residential system installed includes some kind of display device that must support high definition television and HDMI.

This is not to say we all love using HDMI, but we’ve all had to adapt to it since 2001 and it is not going away. In fact, its bandwidth pipe continues to grow, and so does its complexity, requiring all players to elevate their knowledge and processes to continue working in the space.

Our database and experience with HDMI is huge. We discovered some time ago that just about every HDMI issue reported had a high probability of being system related rather than being a problem with one particular piece of hardware.

Pg44An inexcusable ‘blame game’ arose with insufficient data to support it. This was further influenced by so-called experts with little or no experience in the art of high-speed digital signaling. It is a serious subject, and for the benefit of all players the confusion had to stop.

An interoperability test standard has been developed by DPL Labs to introduce the necessary skills for testing and measurement of high-speed digital signaling. It aims to identify and verify problems that lurk in just about any HDMI system.

The standard took years of research in the field and in our lab administering a complex discovery process to deal with each problem that emerged. Products that achieve this new standard carry the DPL Mark of Excellence.

The goal for this series of articles is to provide information, education and a guide on how to identify the right products for each application. The last point is an art on its own and will take some work and study on your part to gain full advantage of the material we provide.

We will teach you how to read and understand product specifications. So let’s roll up our sleeves and control this bad boy so you can finish each job, reduce call-backs, make an income and go home on time to your families.

There will be new words, phrases and illustrations that need to be learned and understood. Some may be difficult to grasp at first, but we will help you along.

As an example we will show how eye patterns can be the first clue when deciding on video integrity. In addition, you will learn about the importance of timing (skew), insertion loss facts and The HDMI Collectivethe death knell for HDMI.

All this is just a small sample compared with the vast amount of information to be presented.

We will teach you to read oscilloscope waveforms, to understand specific electrical limits, and how some accessory products can become additional tools of the trade. You will be able to focus in on system topology and product selection.

Pg44aThe material presented should be available from almost every company. If it isn’t included in the specification or product description, then ask for it. If it is not available, then it was not considered during development or it was a guess.

We are definitely not in the guessing business. Remember, each system is your liability, you are meant to be the expert, and customers are expecting guidance from you.

These articles are coming in a little late in the HDMI game, so it will be best to cover some basic functions of the interface in a small portion of each article. This will get readers up to speed on how it all works and will provide more vocabulary for discussing digital video and high-speed digital signaling.

We will correlate each topic to a function, thereby reducing any potential for confusion.

Our next installment will focus on starting the HDMI engine and how it relates to the new HDMI Rev 2.1. We will do a small comparative analysis with prior revisions for those that may be weak in this particular area. Then the focus will be on the huge expansion this new revision offers.

Join us as we travel through this cosmos of digital video as we provide the knowledge and tools to increase your success in this complicated trade.

Learn it, understand it and embrace it – after all, it belongs to you.

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Reference: Connected Home