HDMI Group Ratifies 3D Broadcast Formats

Move should ensure interoperability between programming and sets
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As expected, HDMI Licensing, the entity which licenses the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) networking technology used to securely connect digital set-tops, optical-disc players and HDTV sets, has updated its most recent specification with a number of mandatory broadcast formats for 3D content.

HDMI has been working feverishly over the past six months to keep pace with television programmers' heightened interested in transmitting 3D content to the home. In December, it eased its licensing restrictions somewhat to allow new 3D HD sets with HDMI Version 1.4 connections to be backward-compatible with digital satellite and cable set-tops that use the older Version 1.3 HDMI specification. That paved the way for DirecTV to launch 3D HD content this year, simply by sending a firmware update to existing set-tops.

Last month, HDMI Licensing made the 3D part of its specification free for public download and identified a number of frame-compatible 3D formats as "informative formats" that could be used by networks to transmit 3D. Those formats have now been made official with the HDMI Specification Version 1.4a update, which means that set-makers have to support them going forward. HDMI had already identified mandatory 3D formats for Blu-ray movies and gaming content.

The new mandatory 3D broadcast formats include:

Side-by-Side Horizontal
1080i @ 50 or 59.94/60Hz

720p @ 50 or 59.94/60Hz
1080p @ 23.97/24Hz

According to HDMI Licensing, 3D displays must support all mandatory formats. Sources must support at least one mandatory format, while repeaters must be able to pass through all mandatory formats.

"We published these latest enhancements to support the market need for broadcast 3D content," said Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, in a statement. "When we launched 1.4 in June of 2009, we deferred the selection of mandatory 3D formats for broadcast content until the market direction was more clearly defined. The market has spoken and the HDMI Consortium has listened and responded to accommodate those market needs."