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Is designing for 4K a leap or a step?

In 1992, SMPTE released the 259M standard, which enabled the transport of uncompressed SD video at rates of 143Mb/s-360Mb/s. At the time, 10Mb/s Ethernet had yet to be released. In 1998, SMPTE upped the ante with SMPTE 292, which standardized a 1.5Gb/s interface for the transport of HD video, while the Ethernet world was still in the process of adopting its 100Mb/s standard. In 2005, SMPTE adopted its 3Gb/s standard for 1080p video transport, and in 2006, 10GigE was released to support the 10G signal across four pairs of wire. Now the circuits were operating at roughly the same 2.5Gb/s speed. From there on, however, the race was over.

In 2010, 100GigE was released, transporting four 25Gb/s channels while the video industry was still slowly adopting the 3Gb/s standard. SMPTE is now discussing standardization of a new interface, intended to support 4K displays that require 12Gb/s transport. For the first time in history, the video industry does not need to be the one that breaks new ground. Now we can make use of technology designed for the data transport world to make the transition to 12G much easier than previous transitions. Even with the trail-blazing effort done, will the transition to 12Gb/s video systems be a great leap forward — or yet another incremental step?

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