HDMI 2.1a specifications reveal new Cable Power option for lengthier cable capability

Jason R. Wilson


HDMI 2.1a specifications reveal new Cable Power option for lengthier cable capability

HDMI Licensing Administrator revealed an update to the HDMI 2.1a specifications. HDMI 2.1a cables that are longer and usually lose or take more time to transmit data are now listed as supported under the HDMI Cable Power feature.

HDMI 2.1 gets more accessibility for larger cables under a recent update

From the HDMI Licensing Administrator website —

HDMI® Cable Power

HDMI 2.1a, Amendment 1 adds a new feature: HDMI Cable Power. With this feature, active HDMI® Cables can now be powered directly from the Connector, without attaching a separate power cable. This makes attaching and using active HDMI Cables as easy as using passive, wired HDMI Cables. To use the HDMI Cable Power feature, it is necessary to have an HDMI Cable which supports the Cable Power feature, and also an HDMI Source device which supports the Cable Power feature. This combination ensures that the active HDMI Cable can safely draw sufficient current from the HDMI Connector to power its internal circuitry.

In the case of the Ultra High Speed HDMI® Cable, performance requirements are so high, it is likely that the only way to meet the Ultra High Speed requirements in cables longer than a few meters is through powered, active HDMI Cables. Therefore, Cable Power was added to help support the HDMI 2.1a specification’s higher speeds by providing power to those active cables which may need it to function correctly. While active HDMI Cables have previously been used extensively in professional markets, their use will now increase in the home whenever consumers need longer-length Ultra High Speed HDMI Cables.

Connection is the same as attaching an ordinary, “wired” HDMI Cable, except that active cables can only be attached in one direction: One end of the cable is specifically labeled for attachment to the Source (transmitting) device, and the other end of the cable must be attached to the Sink (receiving) device. If the cable is attached in reverse, no damage will occur, but the connection will not work.

HDMI Cables with HDMI Cable Power include a separate power connector for use with source devices that do not support the HDMI Cable Power feature. Typically, these connectors will be USB Micro-B or USB Type-C®, but different power connector types may be used. As more and more source devices add support for HDMI Cable Power, these longer cables will deliver convenience in the living room along with reliable, high performance home theater audio video.

What does this mean for users?

This new capability will allow active cables to achieve more power from the source device without needing additional power cables to promote this ability. So, cables that the length measure around two meters will not require another power source.

Longer cables for any device always suffer from loss of power or data stability when using other products. With HDMI 2.1 cables offering bandwidth speeds up to 48 Gbps, this new update will increase the support from the latest technology and will foothold the HDMI 2.1 into the new standard for devices.

The HDMI Cable Power not only improves data flow through longer cables but the technology and purpose do not change. Devices will begin to support the new 2.1 cables in the coming year.

Manufacturers will present new HDMI 2.1 cables with either the USB Type-C or Micro-B connector for devices that do not currently support the latest update.

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