All You Need to Know About 4K Ultra HD

 Although in my last blog I mentioned the different spec work currently underway at SMPTE, it’s time once more to take another look at 4K. 


Current situation: HD is the new standard

High definition (HD) has reached European broadcast TV. It is now the new standard definition and considered to be mainstream. Having said that, at Belden we take into account that our professional broadcast customers may be managing two different HD formats.

The first of these is interlaced scanning with 720 to 1080 horizontal lines (e.g. 1080i). Each scan displays alternate lines in the image raster, and two complete scans are therefore required to display the entire image – also known as HD/1.5Gbps.

The other one is progressive scanning with 1080 horizontal lines (1080p). Each scan displays every line in the image raster sequentially from top to bottom – and is also known as HD/3Gbps. This format offers less jitter, with more stable and flicker-free video quality and sharpness. Because of the new 4K format, Belden uses the term 2K/3Gbps instead of HD/3Gbps.

Both HD formats are specified 2006 in the standards of SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) under ST 292 for interlaced scanning and ST 424 for progressive scanning. These specifications are defined for 75 ohm coaxial cables and 75 ohm BNC connectors. By the way, ST 297 covers all SDI rates from 143Mbps to 3Gbps with optical fiber cabling infrastructure.

Most important for the broadcaster is to know how far he can transmit the signal over a single coax cable. Belden’s 1694A, for example, can have a minimum run of 113 meters with HD and 78 meters with 2K signals. These lengths can be improved when using our HD BNC connectors – for example 140 meter at HD or even further.  A Gennum chip produced by Semtech can extend this to 230 meters.

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Taking a Look at 4K Technology

One hot topic that was discussed all around the IBC was 4K. Let’s take a look at what this new technology means. 

4K technology, or, to give it its official name, Ultra HD or UHD-1, is being mentioned as the next High Definition.  And experts say that 2013 is the breakout year for 4K2K TVs, with a market forecast to reach 7 million sets in 2016. But will the broadcast industry really invest into a 4K workflow – and when? Though hear about a number of 4K TVs that are all direct shippable, there are still a few issues that need to be resolved – apart from the price:

  • Consumers will need set-top boxes that deliver the relatively rare 4K content which is currently available (most is upscaled from HD to 4K).
  • There are not many Live TV cameras available that are able to produce 4K – except Sony’s F55 UHD.  A few, including Ikegami, have in fact skipped 4K and intend to start with 8K in a couple of years’ time.
  • Some countries have no way of delivering 4K, because they have already sold the available bandwidth to the cellular industry or re-allocated the frequencies to digital broadcasting.

If we look at it from a cabling perspective, 4K means that the bandwidth is growing:


  • HD –   1.5Gb/s (720p-1080i)
  • 2K –   3 Gb/s (1080p)
  • QFHD –   6 Gb/s (3840×2160)
  • 4K – 12Gb/s (4086×2160) – also known as UHD-1
  • 8K – 24 Gb/s (7680×4320) – also known as UHD-2


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