Silicon Line presents first active optical cables to support HDMI 2.1 at CES 2019

Created January 18, 2019
Technologies and Products

At the 2019 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January, Silicon Line, a developer of optical link technology for consumer, commercial and industrial electronics, demonstrated the world’s first active optical cables with embedded technology supporting all features of the recently released HDMI 2.1 specification. Show visitors were able to view the demonstration, involving the latest HDMI 2.1-enabled 4K and 8K TVs, at the Las Vegas Convention Centre South Hall in the dedicated HDMI Licensing Administrator booth.

“Copper cabling presents many limitations for very high bandwidth applications that make it impractical for use in many applications,” said Silicon Line CEO Ruud van der Linden. “Our embedded technology supports all the advanced new features of the HDMI 2.1 specification and will allow the production of thin, long, flexible optical HDMI cables at prices affordable to consumers.”

He added, “CES is the premier world stage for debuting the latest consumer technologies, and we are pleased to unveil what will become a common standard for connectivity with TVs, set top boxes, video game consoles, mobile devices, virtual and augmented reality headsets and other consumer electronics.”

Van der Linden said the company had been awaiting release of the HDMI 2.1 Specification Addendum before finalising the components it will provide to manufacturers of Ultra High Speed HDMI cables for use with HDMI 2.1 enabled products.

Munich-based Silicon Line, a member of the HDMI Forum, produces the tiny, proprietary integrated circuits and ‘optical engines’ needed to convert electrical signals to optical signals and back again. It also makes cable modules – the electronics inside cable-end connectors – which contain the integrated circuits, optical engine and other components needed to make a complete active optical cable. The company’s opto-electronics and manufacturing technologies have dramatically reduced the production cost of active optical cables for applications including HDMI, DisplayPort and USB3. Silicon Line also produces ultra-low-power optical link technology enabling thin, lightweight and long high-speed cables for consumer electronics, commercial and industrial applications. The company develops and manufactures integrated circuits and modules, which allow a simple, low-cost, high volume assembly of active optical cables.

Market for HDMI 2.1 systems continues to expand

The HDMI 2.1 iteration will support data rates of up to 48 Gb/s, enough to support an 8K resolution display operating at a refresh rate of 120 frames per second. That bandwidth does not necessarily require an optical link, but copper connections become less effective as they get longer – and these longer cables are likely to be where optical technology can find a niche. Image: HDMI Licensing Administrator.


Annual Shipments of Products with HDMI Interface are projected to reach almost 1 billion devices in 2019 alone. At the CES 2019 show, the HDMI Licensing Administrator announced that the event was seeing “many more announcements covering a broad range of product categories”.

Rob Tobias, CEO and President of HDMI LA, commented, “In one short year after the launch of the HDMI 2.1 specification, consumer electronics companies have launched innovative products improving the gaming experience, 8K displays and cinema quality audio for the home theatre. Because of the ongoing evolution of the HDMI interface, HDMI technology continues to be the universal interface for consumer electronics products.”

HDMI LA also reports that almost 1 billion HDMI-enabled devices are projected to ship in 2019 – amounting to eight billion devices shipping since the release of the first HDMI specification in 2002.

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This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.