The HDMI specification defines the protocols, signals, electrical interfaces and mechanical requirements of the standard.(p. V) The maximum pixel clock rate for HDMI 1.0 is 165 MHz, which is sufficient to allow 1080p and WUXGA (1920×1200) at 60 Hz. HDMI 1.3 increases that to 340 MHz, which allows for higher resolution (such as WQXGA, 2560×1600) across a single digital link. An HDMI connection can either be single-link (type A/C/D) or dual-link (type B) and can have a video pixel rate of 25 MHz to 340 MHz (for a single-link connection) or 25 MHz to 680 MHz (for a dual-link connection). Video formats with rates below 25 MHz (e.g., 13.5 MHz for 480i/NTSC) are transmitted using a pixel-repetition scheme.
HDMI uses the Consumer Electronics Association/Electronic Industries Alliance 861 standards. HDMI 1.0 to HDMI 1.2a uses the EIA/CEA-861-B video standard, HDMI 1.3 uses the CEA-861-D video standard, and HDMI 1.4 uses the CEA-861-E video standard.(p. III)The CEA-861-E document defines "video formats and waveforms; colorimetry and quantization; transport of compressed and uncompressed LPCM audio; carriage of auxiliary data; and implementations of the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) Enhanced Extended Display Identification Data Standard (E-EDID)". On July 15, 2013, the CEA announced the publication of CEA-861-F, a standard that can be used by interfaces such as DVI, HDMI, and LVDS. CEA-861-F adds the ability to transmit several Ultra HD video formats and additional color spaces.
To ensure baseline compatibility between different HDMI sources and displays (as well as backward compatibility with the electrically compatible DVI standard) all HDMI devices must implement the sRGB color space at 8 bits per component.(§6.2.3) Ability to use the Y′CBCR color space and higher color depths ("deep color") is optional. HDMI permits sRGB 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), xvYCC 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), Y′CBCR 4:4:4 chroma subsampling (8–16 bits per component), or Y′CBCR 4:2:2 chroma subsampling (8–12 bits per component). The color spaces that can be used by HDMI are ITU-R BT.601, ITU-R BT.709-5 and IEC 61966-2-4.(§§6.5,6.7.2)
For digital audio, if an HDMI device has audio, it is required to implement the baseline format: stereo (uncompressed) PCM. Other formats are optional, with HDMI allowing up to 8 channels of uncompressed audio at sample sizes of 16-bit, 20-bit and 24-bit, with sample rates of 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz.(§7) HDMI also carries any IEC 61937-compliant compressed audio stream, such as Dolby Digital and DTS, and up to 8 channels of one-bit DSD audio (used on Super Audio CDs) at rates up to four times that of Super Audio CD.(§7) With version 1.3, HDMI allows lossless compressed audio streams Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.(§7) As with the Y′CBCR video, audio capability is optional. Audio return channel (ARC) is a feature introduced in the HDMI 1.4 standard. "Return" refers to the case where the audio comes from the TV and can be sent "upstream" to the AV receiver using the HDMI cable connected to the AV receiver. An example given on the HDMI website is that a TV that directly receives a terrestrial/satellite broadcast, or has a video source built in, sends the audio "upstream" to the AV receiver.
The HDMI standard was not designed to pass closed caption data (for example, subtitles) to the television for decoding. As such, any closed caption stream must be decoded and included as an image in the video stream(s) prior to transmission over an HDMI cable to appear on the DTV. This limits the caption style (even for digital captions) to only that decoded at the source prior to HDMI transmission. This also prevents closed captions when transmission over HDMI is required for upconversion. For example, a DVD player that sends an upscaled 720p/1080i format via HDMI to an HDTV has no way to pass Closed Captioning data so that the HDTV can decode it, as there is no line 21 VBI in that format.
The Display Data Channel (DDC) is a communication channel based on the I²C bus specification. HDMI specifically requires the device implement the Enhanced Display Data Channel (E-DDC), which is used by the HDMI source device to read the E-EDID data from the HDMI sink device to learn what audio/video formats it can take.(§§8.1,CEC-1.2–CEC-1.3) HDMI requires that the E-DDC implement I²C standard mode speed (100 kbit/s) and allows it to optionally implement fast mode speed (400 kbit/s).(§4.2.8)
The DDC channel is actively used for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).
Transition-minimized differential signaling (TMDS) on HDMI interleaves video, audio and auxiliary data using three different packet types, called the Video Data Period, the Data Island Period and the Control Period. During the Video Data Period, the pixels of an active video line are transmitted. During the Data Island period (which occurs during the horizontal and vertical blanking intervals), audio and auxiliary data are transmitted within a series of packets. The Control Period occurs between Video and Data Island periods.(§5.1.2)
Both HDMI and DVI use TMDS to send 10-bit characters that are encoded using 8b/10b encoding that differs from the original IBM form for the Video Data Period and 2b/10b encoding for the Control Period. HDMI adds the ability to send audio and auxiliary data using 4b/10b encoding for the Data Island Period. Each Data Island Period is 32 pixels in size and contains a 32-bit Packet Header, which includes 8 bits of BCH ECC parity data for error correction and describes the contents of the packet. Each packet contains four subpackets, and each subpacket is 64 bits in size, including 8 bits of BCH ECC parity data, allowing for each packet to carry up to 224 bits of audio data. Each Data Island Period can contain up to 18 packets. Seven of the 15 packet types described in the HDMI 1.3a specifications deal with audio data, while the other 8 types deal with auxiliary data. Among these are the General Control Packet and the Gamut Metadata Packet. The General Control Packet carries information on AVMUTE (which mutes the audio during changes that may cause audio noise) and Color Depth (which sends the bit depth of the current video stream and is required for deep color). The Gamut Metadata Packet carries information on the color space being used for the current video stream and is required for xvYCC.(§§5.2–5.3,6.5.3,6.7.2,6.7.3)
Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) is an HDMI feature designed to allow the user to command and control up to 15 CEC-enabled devices, that are connected through HDMI, by using only one of their remote controls (for example by controlling a television set, set-top box, and DVD player using only the remote control of the TV). CEC also allows for individual CEC-enabled devices to command and control each other without user intervention.(§CEC-3.1)
It is a one-wire bidirectional serial bus that is based on the CENELEC standard AV.link protocol to perform remote control functions. CEC wiring is mandatory, although implementation of CEC in a product is optional.(§8.1) It was defined in HDMI Specification 1.0 and updated in HDMI 1.2, HDMI 1.2a and HDMI 1.3a (which added timer and audio commands to the bus).(§§CEC-1.2,CEC-1.3,CEC-3.1,CEC-5) USB to CEC adapters exist that allow a computer to control CEC-enabled devices.
Introduced in HDMI 1.4, HDMI Ethernet and Audio Return Channel (HEAC) adds a high-speed bidirectional data communication link (HEC) and the ability to send audio data upstream to the source device (ARC). HEAC utilizes two lines from the connector: the previously unused Reserved pin (called HEAC+) and the Hot Plug Detect pin (called HEAC−).(§HEAC-2.1) If only ARC transmission is required, a single mode signal using the HEAC+ line can be used, otherwise, HEC is transmitted as a differential signal over the pair of lines, and ARC as a common mode component of the pair.(§HEAC-2.2)
Audio Return Channel (ARC)
ARC is an audio link meant to replace other cables between the TV and the A/V receiver or speaker system. This direction is used when the TV is the one that generates or receives the video stream instead of the other equipment. A typical case is the running of an app on a smart TV such as Netflix, but reproduction of audio is handled by the other equipment. Without ARC, the audio output from the TV must be routed by another cable, typically TOSLink or coax, into the speaker system.
HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)
HDMI Ethernet Channel technology consolidates video, audio, and data streams into a single HDMI cable, and the HEC feature enables IP-based applications over HDMI and provides a bidirectional Ethernet communication at 100 Mbit/s. The physical layer of the Ethernet implementation uses a hybrid to simultaneously send and receive attenuated 100BASE-TX type signals through a single twisted pair.[failed verification][failed verification]
HDMI is backward compatible with single-link Digital Visual Interface digital video (DVI-D or DVI-I, but not DVI-A). No signal conversion is required when an adapter or asymmetric cable is used, so there is no loss of video quality.(appx. C)
From a user's perspective, an HDMI display can be driven by a single-link DVI-D source, since HDMI and DVI-D define an overlapping minimum set of allowed resolutions and frame-buffer formats to ensure a basic level of interoperability. In the reverse case, a DVI-D monitor has the same level of basic interoperability unless content protection with High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) interferes—or the HDMI color encoding is in component color space Y′CBCR instead of RGB, which is not possible in DVI. An HDMI source, such as a Blu-ray player, may require an HDCP-compliant display, and refuse to output HDCP-protected content to a non-compliant display. A further complication is that there is a small amount of display equipment, such as some high-end home theater projectors, designed with HDMI inputs but not HDCP-compliant.
Any DVI-to-HDMI adapter can function as an HDMI-to-DVI adapter (and vice versa). Typically, the only limitation is the gender of the adapter's connectors and the gender of the cables and sockets it is used with.
Features specific to HDMI, such as remote-control and audio transport, are not available in devices that use legacy DVI-D signalling. However, many devices output HDMI over a DVI connector (e.g., ATI 3000-series and NVIDIA GTX 200-series video cards),(appx. C)  and some multimedia displays may accept HDMI (including audio) over a DVI input. Exact capabilities beyond basic compatibility vary. Adapters are generally bi-directional.
High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is a newer form of digital rights management. Intel created the original technology to make sure that digital content followed the guidelines set by the Digital Content Protection group.
HDMI can use HDCP to encrypt the signal if required by the source device. CSS, CPRM and AACS require the use of HDCP on HDMI when playing back encrypted DVD Video, DVD Audio, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The HDCP Repeater bit controls the authentication and switching/distribution of an HDMI signal. According to HDCP Specification 1.2 (beginning with HDMI CTS 1.3a), any system that implements HDCP must do so in a fully compliant manner. HDCP testing that was previously only a requirement for optional tests such as the "Simplay HD" testing program is now part of the requirements for HDMI compliance.(§9.2) HDCP accommodates up to 127 connected devices with up to 7 levels, using a combination of sources, sinks and repeaters. A simple example of this is several HDMI devices connected to an HDMI AV receiver that is connected to an HDMI display.
Devices called HDCP strippers can remove the HDCP information from the video signal so the video can play on non-HDCP-compliant displays, though a fair use and non-disclosure form must usually be signed with a registering agency before use.
There are five HDMI connector types. Type A/B are defined in the HDMI 1.0 specification, type C is defined in the HDMI 1.3 specification, and type D/E are defined in the HDMI 1.4 specification.
The plug (male) connector outside dimensions are 13.9 mm × 4.45 mm, and the receptacle (female) connector inside dimensions are 14 mm × 4.55 mm.(§184.108.40.206) There are 19 pins, with bandwidth to carry all SDTV, EDTV, HDTV, UHD, and 4K modes.(§6.3) It is electrically compatible with single-link DVI-D.(§4.1.3)
This connector is 21.2 mm × 4.45 mm and has 29 pins, carrying six differential pairs instead of three, for use with very high-resolution displays such as WQUXGA (3840×2400). It is electrically compatible with dual-link DVI-D, but has not yet been used in any products. With the introduction of HDMI 1.3, the maximum bandwidth of single-link HDMI exceeded that of dual-link DVI-D. As of HDMI 1.4, the pixel clock rate crossover frequency from single to dual-link has not been defined.(§§4.1.3,220.127.116.11)
This Mini connector is smaller than the type A plug, measuring 10.42 mm × 2.42 mm but has the same 19-pin configuration.(§§18.104.22.168,22.214.171.124) It is intended for portable devices.(§4.1.1) The differences are that all positive signals of the differential pairs are swapped with their corresponding shield, the DDC/CEC Ground is assigned to pin 13 instead of pin 17, the CEC is assigned to pin 14 instead of pin 13, and the reserved pin is 17 instead of pin 14.(§126.96.36.199) The type C Mini connector can be connected to a type A connector using a type A-to-type C cable.(§4.1.1)
This Micro connector shrinks the connector size to something resembling a micro-USB connector, measuring only 5.83 mm × 2.20 mm(fig. 4–9) For comparison, a micro-USB connector is 6.85 mm × 1.8 mm and a USB Type-A connector is 11.5 mm × 4.5 mm. It keeps the standard 19 pins of types A and C, but the pin assignment is different from both.
The Automotive Connection System has a locking tab to keep the cable from vibrating loose and a shell to help prevent moisture and dirt from interfering with the signals. A relay connector is available for connecting standard consumer cables to the automotive type.
The HDMI alternate mode lets a user connect the reversible USB-C connector with the HDMI source devices (mobile, tablet, laptop). This cable connects to video display/sink devices using any of the native HDMI connectors. This is an HDMI cable, in this case a USB-C to HDMI cable.
An HDMI cable is composed of four shielded twisted pairs, with impedance of the order of 100 Ω (±15%), plus seven separate conductors. HDMI cables with Ethernet differ in that three of the separate conductors instead form an additional shielded twisted pair (with the CEC/DDC ground as a shield).(§HEAC-2.9)
Although no maximum length for an HDMI cable is specified, signal attenuation (dependent on the cable's construction quality and conducting materials) limits usable lengths in practice and certification is difficult to achieve for lengths beyond 13 m. HDMI 1.3 defines two cable categories: Category 1-certified cables, which have been tested at 74.5 MHz (which would include resolutions such as 720p60 and 1080i60), and Category 2-certified cables, which have been tested at 340 MHz (which would include resolutions such as 1080p60 and 4K30).(§4.2.6) Category 1 HDMI cables are marketed as "Standard" and Category 2 HDMI cables as "High Speed". This labeling guideline for HDMI cables went into effect on October 17, 2008. Category 1 and 2 cables can either meet the required parameter specifications for inter-pair skew, far-end crosstalk, attenuation and differential impedance, or they can meet the required non equalized/equalized eye diagram requirements.(§4.2.6) A cable of about 5 meters (16 feet) can be manufactured to Category 1 specifications easily and inexpensively by using 28 AWG (0.081 mm²) conductors. With better quality construction and materials, including 24 AWG (0.205 mm²) conductors, an HDMI cable can reach lengths of up to 15 meters (49 feet). Many HDMI cables under 5 meters of length that were made before the HDMI 1.3 specification can work as Category 2 cables, but only Category 2-tested cables are guaranteed to work for Category 2 purposes.
Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet
Standard Automotive HDMI Cable
High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
A new certification program was introduced in October 2015 to certify that cables work at the 18 Gbit/s maximum bandwidth of the HDMI 2.0 specification. In addition to expanding the set of cable testing requirements, the certification program introduces an EMI test to ensure cables minimize interference with wireless signals. These cables are marked with an anti-counterfeiting authentication label and are defined as:
Premium High Speed HDMI Cable
Premium High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet
In conjunction with the HDMI 2.1 specification, a third category of cable was announced on January 4, 2017, called "48G". Also known as Category 3 HDMI or "Ultra High Speed" HDMI, the cable is designed to support the 48 Gbit/s bandwidth of HDMI 2.1, supporting 4K, 5K, 8K and 10K at 120 Hz. The cable is backwards compatible with the earlier HDMI devices, using existing HDMI type A, C and D connectors, and includes HDMI Ethernet.
Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable (48G Cable) – 4K, 5K, 8K and 10K at 120 Hz
An HDMI extender is a single device (or pair of devices) powered with an external power source or with the 5V DC from the HDMI source. Long cables can cause instability of HDCP and blinking on the screen, due to the weakened DDC signal that HDCP requires. HDCP DDC signals must be multiplexed with TMDS video signals to comply with HDCP requirements for HDMI extenders based on a single Category 5/Category 6 cable. Several companies offer amplifiers, equalizers and repeaters that can string several standard HDMI cables together. Active HDMI cables use electronics within the cable to boost the signal and allow for HDMI cables of up to 30 meters (98 feet); those based on HDBaseT can extend to 100 meters; HDMI extenders that are based on dual Category 5/Category 6 cable can extend HDMI to 250 meters (820 feet); while HDMI extenders based on optical fiber can extend HDMI to 300 meters (980 feet).
The HDMI specification is not an open standard; manufacturers need to be licensed by HDMI LLC in order to implement HDMI in any product or component. Companies who are licensed by HDMI LLC are known as HDMI Adopters.
While earlier versions of HDMI specs are available to the public for download, only Adopters have access to the latest standards (HDMI 1.4/1.4a/2).
Only Adopters have access to the Compliance Test Specification (CTS) that is used for compliance and certification
This is required before any HDMI product can be legally sold.
Adopters have IP rights
Adopters receive the right to use HDMI logos and TMs on their products and marketing materials
Adopters are listed on the HDMI website
Products from Adopters are listed and marketed in the official HDMI product finder database
Adopters receive more exposure through combined marketing, such as the annual HDMI Developers Conference and technology seminars
There are 2 annual fee structures associated with being an HDMI Adopter:
Low-volume (10,000 units or fewer) HDMI Adopter Agreement - US$5k/year + flat US$1/unit administration fee
The annual fee is due upon the execution of the Adopter Agreement, and must be paid on the anniversary of this date each year thereafter.
The royalty fee structure is the same for all volumes. The following variable per-unit royalty is device-based and not dependent on number of ports, chips or connectors:
US$0.15 – for each end-user licensed product
US$0.05 – If the HDMI logo is used on the product and promotional material, the per-unit fee drops from US$0.15 to US$0.05.
US$0.04 – If HDCP is implemented and HDMI logo is used, the per-unit fee drops from US$0.05 to US$0.04
Use of HDMI logo requires compliance testing. Adopters must license HDCP separately.
The HDMI royalty is only payable on Licensed Products that will be sold on a stand-alone basis (i.e. that are not incorporated into another Licensed Product that is subject to an HDMI royalty). For example, if a cable or IC is sold to an Adopter who then includes it in a television subject to a royalty, then the cable or IC maker would not pay a royalty, and the television manufacturer would pay the royalty on the final product. If the cable is sold directly to consumers, then the cable would be subject to a royalty.