Black Box, a leading maker of pro AV cables and equipment, has unveiled active optical cables that can extend DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0 signals for more than 200 meters. The maximum bandwidth supported by the DP cables is 32.4 Gbps and the maximum resolution they support is 7680×4320 at 60 Hz.

The new Black Box active optical cables use a 0.48-mm fiber optic design with triple shielding against EMI and RFI. The hot-swappable cables can be bent, which is important in situations when cables are used over long distances and inevitably have to go through tight spaces and around the corners. Besides fiber, the cables also include a copper wire that pulls power from the source and therefore does not require any external power.

The new active optical cables from Black Box fully support DisplayPort 1.4 or HDMI 2.0 protocols as well as all types of surround sound that these technologies support, including PCM 8-channel, DTS-HD, and Dolby Digital True HD. In case of DP 1.4, the cables support bandwidth of up 32.4 Gbps as well as the maximum resolution of up to 7680×4320 at 60 Hz. In case of HDMI 2.0, the cables transfer up to 18 Gbps and thus support resolutions up to 4096×2160 at 60 Hz with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling.

Black Box plans to offer its new cables in standard lengths of 10, 15, and 30 meters (packed in boxes) and 50 or 100 meters (supplied on spools). Multiple cables can be used to transfer video streams over distances of up to 200 meters.

Black Box already offers its active optical DP 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 cables on its web site. A 100-meter DP 1.4 spool costs $899.99, whereas a 100-meter HDMI 2.0 cable is priced at $699.99.

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Source: Black Box

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  • willis936 - Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - link

    It would be cool to see an HDMI to Ethernet SR or LR adapter. That way you could lay out a low latency, full bandwidth video connection over any length you chose. It would take a fair bit more engineering to bundle all of the low speed interfaces into one piece of fiber though. This is still a very cool product.
  • wolrah - Thursday, March 28, 2019 - link

    The tricky thing with trying to run over standard Ethernet is bandwidth. Most HDMI-over-Cat5/6 products are not actually using Ethernet signaling, they're just running HDMI signaling over the Cat5/6 cables.

    Plain old standard 1920x1080 24bpp 60Hz video requires just short of 3 gigabits per second of raw bandwidth. That is to say what's basically considered the entry level for modern display devices requires the second fastest variant of copper ethernet to exist. 4K60 takes you well north of 10 gigabits per second, putting you firmly in high-end enterprise networking territory. Higher refresh rates or greater bit depths (HDR) take it even further.

    The solutions I'm aware of that actually run over ethernet all are basically video capture devices that compress the signal down to rates usable over common equipment, usually using H.264 or H.265. This introduces latency and lowers video quality, which is usually acceptable for applications where the screen is mostly playing videos but doesn't work so well for desktop or gaming.

    Since these sorts of things also tend to be installed with at least one end in a place that's not easy to get to it's desirable to be future-proof, so such a product would have to be using at least 25GbE to support 4K
  • Kevin G - Thursday, March 28, 2019 - link

    There are two kinda today.

    The first is HDBaseT which has a fiber spec and permits using SFP+ transceivers for the PHY. That get you pretty much every fiber available in some fashion. However, these cannot be mixed in with normal network traffic.

    There are various AV-over-IP extenders that'll do uncompressed 3840 x 2160 @ 30 Hz over a 10 Gbit Ethernet connection. However, I have yet to see any sort of AV-over-IP extender leverage more than 10 Gbit of bandwidth which means higher resolutions would invoke some compression. Various protocols like SDVoE, AVB and some SMPTE standards do have provisions to go to higher bandwidths, just no vendor in the AV space has actually implemented them yet. The upgrading beyond 10 Gbit networking is exceedingly expensive and any sort of wide spread AV-over-IP solution with the expectation of providing >25 Gbit bandwidth would likely need 400 Gbit backbone infrastructure in place. Though once you have that 400 Gbit backbone, it could work with, well, 400 different 1 Gbit streams over a single cable.

    Personally I am avoiding the various AV-over-IP products as there are way too many implementations right now with everyone attempting vendor lock-in. For example, both Crestron, SVSI/AMX/Harmon/Samsung, and Audinate have M-JPEG2000 based AV-over-IP products which are not interoperable with each other. It really is shocking to see the same underlaying compression schemes and communication protocols used between different vendors but they go out of their way to make sure don't work with each other. Also if any vendor says they can do 4K60 over 1 Gbit at good quality with low latency, they are flat out laying to you. The 18:1 compression ratio is just too much to do near real time (solutions like H.264/H.265 are not real time but do produce better picture quality). However, 1080p60 looks fine over 1 Gbit and 4K looks great over 10 Gbit.
  • SirMaster - Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - link

    What about HDMI 2.1?
  • Krause - Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - link

    That's really cool, but why do Optical cables need shielding against EMI?
  • willis936 - Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - link

    They don't. The electrical cables bundled in there do.

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