The HDMI Licensing group today provided further details of the HDMI 1.4 spec that will have data become a core feature of the video standard. The technology will add a new pipe known as the HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC) that can supply up to a 100Mbps Ethernet connection between the device host and others that recognize the format. The approach will let two compatible devices share information without requiring a separate cable and is suggested both as a way of networking close-by devices as well as sharing content across multiple rooms.
The technology also brings a reverse-direction path for sound known as the Audio Return Channel (ARC) that can handle compressed surround sound through an intermediary device, such as a home theater receiver, without requiring a separate optical audio cable. Future video support is also built in with the ability to handle resolutions up to 4K (4096x2160), 3D and the same color spaces as digital still cameras.
A recently proposed micro HDMI connector will be part of the 1.4 format and allow up to 1080p video from very small devices, including portable media players and compact cameras.
The combined technology is expected to significantly overhaul the approach to home media serving, particularly for networked media devices, and may also help future computers that could use the extra networking and audio features. Samples of HDMI 1.4-equipped chipsets ship before the end of the spring and should result in finished products sometime within 2010.