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HDMI supporters prep to deliver 3DTVs

Posted: 12 Nov 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:HDMI? 3DTV? video?

Proponents of the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) say that the industry will be able to deliver stereoscopic 3DTVs eventually and the HDMI interface braces to go for first-generation 3DTVs.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will update a key specification at the heart of HDMI to make it ready for stereo 3D, one of the steps that the CEA is now looking into toward the road for 3DTV. In the long term, HDMI may need to increase its bandwidth to make room for a capability in delivering full high-definition (HD) views of stereo 3D video.

"Eight months ago we looked into the stereo 3D market, talking to studios and device guys to see if this will really happen in the home and if so when and what we need to think about," said Steve Venuti, president of HDMI LLC, the group that licenses the specification currently to more than 800 users.

"I told all the studios I am one of the biggest cynics, but I am much less skeptical having seen some of the demos," he added. "It won't happen as fast as others want, but it will definitely occur, probably in a trickle with a few big events like the Super Bowl," he noted.

"The studios can't be more behind the technology that they think will revolutionize their business," Venuti said. "They see new revenue streams, and the systems people see it as differentiation," he added.

The current HDMI ver 1.3 specification backs links running up to 10Gbit/s, more then enough to handle left and right eye versions of 1080-progressive video at 60Hz, which needs a total of about 8Gbit/s, Venuti estimated. But ultimately 3DTV proponents want to support 120Hz rates for HD and multiple 3D views.

"That's a long, long way off," he said. "But it could be served by a rarely used dual-link provision in the HDMI specification or an eventual upgrade of the base link," he added. "The specification has room for growth," he noted.

In the short term, the industry needs to define a means to carry over HDMI information on the 3D capabilities of a device and metadata signaling about a 3D video stream. That's the job of a CEA task group who updates the CEA 861 standard that defines an uncompressed video interface referenced in turn by the HDMI standard.

"It usually takes about a year to upgrade a specification so the earliest we could have anything would be the fall of 2009," said Mark Stockfisch, who chairs the CEA group updating the 861 standard.

"The 861 specification in future could also be the basis of other interconnects like DisplayPort and wireless links," he added. Stockfisch is also chairing a CEA task force studying other specifications necessary to enable 3DTV.

"This 3D thing is pretty huge, and there are many disciplines involved," said Stockfisch, chief technology officer, Quantum Data Inc., maker of video test equipment. "I think we have a way to go to get it all developed," he added. "In the CEA we are discussing the broad product specifications, common terminologies and how products will interface," he noted. "They will probably be using existing interfaces such as HDMI that need to be extended," he claimed.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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