LAS VEGAS The High Definition Multimedia Interface officially throws its hat in the ring of contenders for a home networking physical layer today.
HDMI Licensing LLC announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that it is nearly finished writing a specification for the next generation of the HDMI interconnect used to link a wide range of digital TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and digital video recorders. That spec will include support for high bandwidth bi-direction traffic capable of handling compressed video.
The current HDMI 1.3 spec only supports a narrowband back channel for sending control data and commands. The new spec could act as a physical layer for a home network that could carry video, audio or data.
Representatives of the licensing group would not give details of the bandwidth of the return channel. However the new version will have at least double the bandwidth of the current version, enabling it to carry so-called 4K high definition video or the two channels needed for stereo 3-D video.
The news comes at a time when the industry has an abundance of wired and wireless home network alternatives including from coax, phone line, several versions of powerline, Wi-Fi, ultrawideband and more.
"I'm just wondering how full this space is going to get," said Kurt Scherf, principal analyst at Parks Associates (Dallas). "Companies are beating reach other to death in the IEEE and ITU for this," he said.
Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing said the new spec was about 80 percent complete and could be finished by mid-year. HDMI is backed by major consumer electronics companies such as Hitachi, Philips, Sony and Toshiba. The licensing company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Image which makes HDMI chips and helps drive the specification.
The new spec also defines two new connectors. One is aimed for audio/video systems in cars; the other is a small 19-pin connector.