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If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last couple of weeks glued to the TV, watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio, cheering madly every time a favorite athlete was competing. In our household, the entire family gathers around our big-screen TV every evening, and as Olympic events are wont to be, most photo finishes are endlessly paused, still-forwarded, verdicts passed and debated. Time and again, I’m simply astounded by the clarity and detail afforded by the content and the display. None of these would’ve been possible a few short years ago.
Displays have come a long way since the IBM standard VGA display of 640x480 from 1987 all the way up to today's fairly common 2560×1600 resolution. Just in the last decade, resolutions have increased exponentially, driven mainly by the wider availability of broadband and the proliferation of mobile devices, which resulted in an appetite for richer content, and a better viewing experience. Today, we can find several reasonably priced 4K and Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV’s on the market with a resolution of 3840x2160 or more. There are even a few 8K or Super Hi-Vision (SHV) TV’s on the market now, albeit priced on the higher side. The image quality on these screens is stunning, to say the least. Experts say that the 8K resolution display can be regarded as the ultimate 2D display, since it allows viewers to see even moving images with absolutely no pixellation, even on a large screen. But increased resolution doesn’t always equate to a better viewing experience, especially in a residential setting. This is because the human eye is analog, and cannot differentiate between a 1080p and a 4K display unless the display screen is at least 55”. This number jumps to at least 80” for an 8K display. Add to that the fact that at 24 frames per second (fps), an 8K video demands a bandwidth of 50Mbps (anything slower will produce a noticeable stutter). The average broadband speed in the US is currently about 31Mbps, so you can see why a residential TV may not be the killer application that 8K displays are seeking. At least not yet.
So does this mean there aren’t good applications for higher resolution displays beyond large-screen TV’s? Far from it. The incredible detail and clarity that 8K displays offer will have an immediate application in medicine, where they make possible surgical techniques that couldn't be performed before. An 8K resolution endoscopic camera might allow surgeons to perform operations using extra-fine sutures without damaging very narrow blood vessels. Such sutures are currently only visible using a microscope. These high-res images also will have wide applications in cancer detection, security, research, and visual arts.
Which brings me to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In anticipation of the Olympics, both private and public sector companies in Japan are eager to bring about a revolution in broadcasting, and have geared up to introduce “Made in Japan” 8K resolution imaging technology. Experimental 8K broadcasting is scheduled to begin as early as this year with public broadcasting to start as early as 2018 on limited channels. Cadence, in anticipation of these developments and all the cool product designs that will follow, has released the industry’s first DisplayPort 8K VIP. Cadence DisplayPort VIPs help offload the burden of verifying standard protocols, so you can focus on your differentiating IP and get your design to market faster. Please check out our Product Page for more details.
Four years from now, when those athletes are breaking records and performing those superhuman feats of strength, speed and skill, I know where I will be – glued in front of a large-screen 8K display, cheering madly for all my favorites.