What do integrators need to know about HDCP 2.2?

Adding to the alphabet soup that is display specifications, HDCP stands for “High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection.” It was first developed by the Intel Corporation and is now ubiquitous across consumer video sources and displays as a way to protect copyrighted materials from privacy. According to the license holders at Digital Connection, HDCP “eliminates the possibility of intercepting digital data midstream between the source and the display” (like directing it to a recording device). It was first introduced for DVI in 2000 and has since gone through several iterations over the years. Each to support a broader range of devices and to overcome limitations (or known weaknesses) of previous versions.

Support for HDCP 2.2 was incorporated into the HDMI 2.0 specification. The primary change is a stronger encryption scheme that makes it well suited for 4K content. Unfortunately, HDCP 2.2 and 1.x are incompatible with each other, meaning that sources requiring HDCP 2.2 will not work with displays that only support HDCP 1.x. Users will experience hand-shake problems which can result in inoperable devices and blank screens. Switchers and displays that support HDCP 2.2 are backwards compatible with HDCP 1.x. Said another way, in order to accommodate HDCP 2.2 and/or HDMI 2.0, all devices in the signal path must also be compliant to the standards. This excludes HDMI cables, but includes extenders and switchers. Current consumer electronics devices without HDCP 2.2 functionality are generally not software upgradeable to add HDCP 2.2 support. They need to be replaced to adhere to the newest standards.

Moving forward, most new 4K video sources require HDCP 2.2 support in order to display high value content, such as 4K movies. At present, few sources support HDCP 2.2, but the list is continuing to expand. The arrival of 4K media players and UHD Blu-ray players will further the need for switchers and displays that can support HDCP 2.2.

In anticipation of this growing support for HDCP 2.2, the Planar® UltraRes™ and a host of our 4k display products are compatible with this new standard.

Special thanks to my colleagues Marques Girardelli and Jeremy Sternhagen for providing this insight.