Agilent Technologies - HDMI Backgrounder

May 24, 2011

Thorough characterization and validation of HDMI-based designs - Agilent HDMI Test Solutions

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a digital standard that delivers quality video and other content without requiring a conversion from analog to digital signals. The current standard, HDMI 1.4a (Compliance Test Specification CTS 1.4a), is presently implemented in devices such as high-definition televisions, set-top-boxes and personal computers.

HMDI -- transmitted via a single cable -- addresses bandwidth requirements, improves audio and video quality and supports multimedia content. It builds upon the electrical specifications of the Digital Visual Interface (DVI) standard (video only) by including audio, using a smaller connector plug and supporting a longer distance range.

HDMI features two-way communication between a video source and a device, enhancing ease of use by decreasing complexity and reducing the cost of multiple cables. HDMI 1.4a supports a number of new features, including HDMI Ethernet and Audio Return Channel (HEAC), 3D content, 4kX2k video support, additional color spaces, an HDMI micro connector targeted for mobile applications, and an automotive connection system.

Agilent Technologies has been involved with HDMI since the standard was first established to help companies meet compliance testing and address the challenges presented by this technology. "We are committed to contributing our expertise to advancing HDMI and working with the Authorized Test Centers (ATCs) to provide a complete and reliable test platform, which will ultimately help build better consumer electronics products," states Thomas Dippon, HDMI Program Manager, Agilent Technologies.

Development of HDMI

According to In-Stat, 350 million consumer devices featuring HDMI have been shipped in 2010. HDMI was developed when a group of leading technology companies started a consortium,, to address the growing needs of the consumer electronics industry to conduct physical, data link and protocol layer testing before delivering products.

The product manufacturers are concerned about the interoperability and performance when digital content is driven from one device via a cable to a receiving device such as a television. Testing helps companies meet specification standards set by the Authorized Test Centers (ATCs), which are managed by ATCs conduct compliance testing for consumer devices, including MP3 players, DVDs and televisions.

Many of the ATC's utilize Agilent's HDMI platform to test products and identify problems, measure data and determine whether tests have passed or failed. Four areas of HDMI characterization methods include source testing, sink testing, media physical layer evaluation, and protocol test. Agilent offers solutions in each of these areas to perform device characterization and compliance testing. All of the new HDMI 1.4a features are addressed by Agilent's test equipment.

Figure 1: Eye diagram with inserted jitter

Figure 1: Eye diagram with inserted jitter.

The Agilent E4887A HDMI Transition Modulated Differential Signaling (TMDS) generator has low intrinsic jitter and controlled jitter injection capability for a quality stimulus signal.

HDMI source test verifies that standard signal parameters, such as amplitude, transition times and jitter are within specified limits. It also performs eye diagram measurements and jitter analysis to verify that the transmitter is compliant with the HDMI specification. HDMI sink test requires a source, such as the E4887 TMDS generator that generates a range of video patterns and injects a calibrated amount of jitter and noise to verify a receiver's capability to deal with distorted input signals. HDMI media test measures attenuation, inter-pair and intra-pair skew of an HDMI cable to ensure that it does not significantly degrade the signal quality.Finally, HDMI protocol test ensures that the frame encoding of the various video and audio modes is performed correctly and additional capabilities, such as 3D are properly encoded in the transmitted data stream.

Benefits and Capabilities of Agilent Technologies' HDMI Test Solution Platform

Agilent has developed tools in the physical, data link and protocol layers to meet the challenges posed by the standard. The solutions are designed to reduce development costs, provide accurate test results and simplify the measurement processes for test engineers in the consumer electronics, cable manufacturer and semiconductor industries. Agilent's HDMI solutions are different than its competitors due to its full automation software testing capabilities, which speeds up testing; efficient electrical performance of the devices and fast test throughput, increasing productivity up to 50 percent. Furthermore, Agilent offers scalable solutions, providing customers the flexibility to test from 3 to 7 Gb per second. 

Agilent's complete HDMI solution platform includes:

N5990A Test Automation Software Platform - designed to automate overall HDMI compliance testing and for in-depth device characterization. It controls Agilent and 3rd party instruments (Quantum Data 882EA) from a PC, providing test integration, minimum calibration time, maximum test throughput and ease-of-use.

90000A and 90000 X-Series Infiniium Oscilloscopes - offer the world’s fastest real-time, windows-based oscilloscopes with the highest real-time scope measurement accuracy, the only 30 GHz probing system, the first hardware/software integrated triggering system (InfiniiScan Plus), and the industry’s most comprehensive application specific measurement software.

N5399B HDMI Electrical Compliance Test Software - provides a fast and simple way to verify and debug HDMI designs. The software makes it possible to automatically execute HDMI electrical checklist tests and displays the results in a flexible report format. The program's measurement data provides an analysis report to show if a device passes or fails each test.

U4998A HDMI Protocol/Audio/Video Analyzer and Generator - enables HDMI 1.4a protocol source and sink compliance testing up to 3.4 Gbps to cover all video formats including 3D, 4K x 2K, and deep color. The U4998A directly replaces the Agilent N5998A, the reference high-speed protocol analyzer, video timing analyzer, video picture analyzer, audio timing analyzer, and audio/video protocol generator for HDMI compliance tests required by the CTS 1.4a. Integration with an offline viewer enables debug through a waveform or listing view, giving designers more insight into captured data. The COM interface to the test device enables faster testing through automation.

E4887A HDMI TMDS Generator - provides parallel signals with low intrinsic jitter and fast edges up to 7 Gb/s. The software can be used for manual testing and debugging and can be configured with various HDMI video frames. It can also test for jitter tolerance and source testing.

E5071C ENA RF Network Analyzer - offers high RF performance, fast speed and 9 kHz to 8.5 GHz frequency range. The analyzer features low trace noise and a wide range of accuracy measurements on low level signals. Calibration is performed rapidly and differential measurements can be made easily.

86100C Infiniium DCA-J Wide Bandwidth Oscilloscope with TDR - can view optical and electrical waveforms with bandwidths up to 80 GHz electrical and 65 GHz optical. Jitter analysis is simplified and random and deterministic jitter components can be reviewed.

Test Point Access Fixtures for standard HDMI connectors (Type A), Micro Connectors (Type D) and Automotive connection system (Type E) allow measurements to be performed with excellent signal fidelity.

Agilent 81150A Arbitrary function generator - provides clean and distorted Ethernet and Audio Return channel (HEAC) stimulus signals for HEAC receiver testing. Combined with the 81150AU-EHD HEAC Physical Test Board, N1080B test point adapter and a 90000 series scope, this provides a complete HEAC Physical Layer Receiver and Transmitter Test solution.

Figure 2: HDMI 1.4 Whole Solution

Figure 2: HDMI 1.4a Total Test Solution

Agilent's Digital Test Standards Program

Agilent's solutions for digital applications are driven and supported by Agilent experts that are involved in the various international standard committees. We call it the Agilent Digital Test Standards Program. Our experts are active in the Joint Electronic Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC), PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG®), Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO), USB-Implementers Forum (USB-IF), Mobile Industry Processor Interface (MIPI) Alliance, Ethernet standards (IEEE 802.3), Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF), HDMI and many others. Our involvement in these standards groups and their related workshops, plugfests and seminars enables Agilent to bring the right solutions to the market when our customers need them.

Agilent's involvement in these standards gives Agilent and its customers, the computing and communication component vendors to the electronics consumer market, two main advantages:

  • First, it enables us to bring the right products to the market when our customers need them. We aim to be first to market with our solutions so our customers can be first to market with products ensuring standard compliance.
  • Second, with Agilent's involvement in plug-fests, workshops and seminars we are in the unique position to develop solutions that evolve with the standards, giving customers the ability to design the best products with the highest confidence.


PCI Express, PCIe and PCI-SIG are registered trademarks and trademarks respectively of the PCI-SIG.

HDMI, the HDMI logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.



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Agilent Document: For additional information about Agilent's HDMI solutions visit:

Janet Smith, Americas
+1 970 679 5397

Sarah Calnan, Europe
+44 (118) 927 5101

Iris Ng, Asia
+852 31977979

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