Tip #865: What is HDMI?

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #865: What is HDMI?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

HDMI is an uncompressed audio and video standard for connecting devices.

Three types of HDMI connectors: Type D (Micro), Type C (Mini) and Type A (from left to right).

Topic $TipTopic

We’ve used it for years, but what, exactly, is HDMI? At its simplest, HDMI is a standard used to connect high-definition video devices.

More specifically, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a proprietary audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from an HDMI-compliant source device, such as a display controller, to a compatible computer monitor, video projector, digital television, or digital audio device. HDMI is a digital replacement for analog video standards.

NOTE: See the use of “uncompressed” in the preceeding paragraph. HDMI may be easy to use, but it provides the highest possible quality.

Several versions of HDMI have been developed and deployed since the initial release of the technology in 2003, but all use the same cable and connector. In addition to improved audio and video capacity, performance, resolution and color spaces, newer versions have optional advanced features such as 3D, Ethernet data connection, and CEC extensions.

The challenge remains for HDMI to keep up with the constant growth in media technology, specifically larger frame sizes and faster frame rates.

As you’ll read in Tip #863, the latest version of HDMI seeks to take our computers and TVs “to infinity … and beyond.”

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more.

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2 replies
  1. Mike Janowski
    Mike Janowski says:

    And the challenge for us users is to figure out WTF is going on with all the various versions and updates of HDMI; WHY in the name of Abraham Lincoln HDMI connections don’t always work; and finally, just what the hell is “handshaking”.

    I’d like to see you address these topics in far more depth than you can here.

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      I can’t answer all your questions, but “handshaking” is the process two devices go through to recognize each other, determine which communication protocol they want to use and create an on-going communications link. This is easy if the both speak “english,” but challenging if one speaks “chinese” and the other “french.” Smile… they don’t speak those languages, they speak using digital protocols, but the process is the same. Handshaking is the process of establishing communication.



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