HDBaseT Unsnarls And Extends Home Entertainment Cabling

July 20, 2011
A new wired networking standard uses cat5e/6 cable to connect and extend video and data in consumer electronics systems.

HDBaseT is implemented with Valens Semiconductor ICs. The VS100TX transmitter is used in DVD players, set-top boxes (STBs), and other HD sources. The VS100RX receiver is used in HDTV sets, audio systems, projectors, and other displays like LCD monitors.

HDBaseT, a relatively new wired connectivity technology, transmits high-definition TV signals over up to 100 meters on standard CAT5e/6 Ethernet cable. It’s not an Ethernet standard, though. It’s a proprietary technology defined and supported by the HDBaseT Alliance that allows HDMI signals up to 1080p to be reliably transmitted uncompressed over 100 meters (328 feet) and even more with up to eight repeaters.

The typical HDMI cable is only 6 or 8 feet long with some 15-foot cables available. Beyond that distance, HDMI transmission at 10.2 Gbits/s runs out of steam. While 50-foot cables are available, they do not meet HDMI specs and reliability may be an issue. HDBaseT readily solves these problems.

HDBaseT can transmit digital uncompressed HDTV signals at rates to 10.2 Gbits/s. CAT5e/6 cable with RJ-45 connectors are standard. The technology supports High-definition Digital Content Protection (HDCP). There is also support for networking extensions with daisy chaining and implementation of a star topology network.

Other features include support for 100-Mbit/s Ethernet and USB. The technology can supply up to 100 W of dc power over the cable to power remote LCD monitors and TV sets or other equipment as well. All digital audio formats are also supported. Finally, HDBaseT provides for the transmission of a wide range of remote control signals. The Alliance calls this combination of HD video, audio, power, Ethernet, and control 5Play.

Mainstream consumer electronics manufacturers like LG Electronics, Samsung, and Sony as well as chip supplier Valens Semiconductor all support the technology. More than a dozen other equipment manufacturers already sell products using HDBaseT.

While the focus of HDBaseT is consumer electronics, it is expected to find other applications in hospitality establishments (hotel wiring), digital signage, video surveillance cameras, and other point-to-point media connectivity.

HDBaseT is implemented with chips from Valens Semiconductor (see the figure). It consists of a transmitter VS100TX and a receiver VS100RX. All supporting circuitry is provided.

HDBaseT standard 1.0 was finalized in June 2010. A certification program was announced in June 2011. The HDBaseT Alliance will be testing products for compliance and interoperability and issuing a certifying logo.

HDBaseT Alliance     

Valens Semiconductor

About the Author

Lou Frenzel | Technical Contributing Editor

Lou Frenzel is a Contributing Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles and the blog Communique and other online material on the wireless, networking, and communications sectors.  Lou interviews executives and engineers, attends conferences, and researches multiple areas. Lou has been writing in some capacity for ED since 2000.  

Lou has 25+ years experience in the electronics industry as an engineer and manager. He has held VP level positions with Heathkit, McGraw Hill, and has 9 years of college teaching experience. Lou holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.  He is author of 28 books on computer and electronic subjects and lives in Bulverde, TX with his wife Joan. His website is www.loufrenzel.com

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