HDMI 2.1a is coming to CES 2022

Daniel Sims

Posts: 750   +28
Why it matters: Last week, the HDMI Forum revealed another update to the HDMI 2.1 standard, adding a new HDR feature just in time for CES 2022. Despite whether or not it becomes a game-changer, the introduction of HDMI 2.1a likely won’t alleviate the current confusion surrounding HDMI specifications.

On December 21, the HDMI Licensing Administrator (HDMI LA) revealed HDMI 2.1a at a pre-CES 2022 virtual press briefing. The standard comes with a single new feature called Source-Based Tone Mapping (SBTM), which helps optimize HDR signals TFT Central notes.

The HDMI LA explains that SBTM will offload some HDR processing which the display previously handled to the equipment delivering the signal. It’s designed specifically for PCs and gaming and should allow devices to combine HDR, SDR, and dynamic HDR graphics to create the image developers want. It may help if a piece of software displays an SDR picture-in-picture image in an HDR signal or if one window on someone’s computer is using HDR and another one isn’t. Source-Based Tone Mapping won’t replace technologies like HDR10.

Users probably won’t have to buy new hardware to use HDMI 2.1a. Manufacturers will likely add SBTM through devices and display firmware updates. Any HDMI cable can support the feature.

The Verge reports that HDMI 2.1a will appear at CES 2022, though the HDMI LA itself won't be there. Organizers plan to hold the event in person instead of virtually like CES 2021. However, many companies have withdrawn due to concerns over the Omicron variant. So far, Microsoft, Intel, GM, AMD, and MSI are among those who have canceled plans to attend.

Like all the other features associated with HDMI 2.1, SBTM won’t be required for a device to carry the HDMI 2.1a label. Earlier this month it was revealed that any device which meets the HDMI 2.0 standard can also be labeled as HDMI 2.1, and now apparently HDMI 2.1a as well. This confusing stance by the HDMI LA continues to throw the meaning of those labels into question.

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Posts: 2,256   +4,393
HDMI version labels are now meaningless, so who cares what they do with the spec? The only ways to identify which features are supported will be 3rd party reviews and trial and error, which defeats the entire purpose of labeling different versions.

And on top of that they still couldn't do the logical and intuitive thing and name it 3 already, what a joke of a forum.


Posts: 459   +251
Yup, these guys and the people in charge of USB need to be kicked to the curb and replaced with logical-minded people for such asinine decisions...
they do it because they are getting rich. I cant really blame them...


Posts: 4,714   +2,682
HDMI 2.1 has way more features than previous versions. I personally don't think it's a big deal as long as features are clearly visible on packaging and in e-tailer product details.


Posts: 4,958   +6,406
As I understand it, the pins on the cables are all the same so they theoretically can all carry the same bandwidth so long as both devices carry the higher standard.

People get tired of different cables and creating e waste, but at this point we really need a new connector to identify what's real and what isn't. Say that HDMI 3.0 uses a different connector but is still compatible with HDMI 2.1 in the same way USB-a can be connected to USB-c with an adapter.

Frankly, with all the royalties that are paid to use HDMI you'd think this would be much less of an issue.


Posts: 452   +1,020
As I understand it, the pins on the cables are all the same so they theoretically can all carry the same bandwidth so long as both devices carry the higher standard.
This is much more than cables. But first, cables.

From the introduction of HDMI, the first thing to do when having display problems has been to change cables.

2.1 should be much higher bandwidth than 2.0. When I last bought cables about a year ago, you had to be very careful to get one that actually worked with 2.1.

2.1 added higher resolutions, refresh rates, chroma sampling, and variable refresh rate. All these are very relevant to PC users and the lucky few with current consoles. Formerly, you could match a source with HDMI 2.1 output to a display with 2.1 input and expect those new features to work (with a high quality cable). That's no longer the case, because the HDMI standards group is now slapping "2.1" on any POS that meets 2.0 requirements.

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Is it just me or does it appear that all these component makers and setting up a condition that makes upgrading a system nearly impossible after it 12 months or so in age?


Posts: 151   +167
I've bought 2 50 foot hdmi 2.0 cables in the last month. Neither work as advertised, can't even do 4k60hz... let alone 4k120hz


Posts: 412   +221
I have always felt that HDMI is an inferior tech. The latest move by HDMI Forum just proves me right.