Understanding HDCP 2.2 for 4K UHD

The latest generation of HDCP copy protection, CIE's HowToAV.tv takes a look at HDCP 2.2 and how it's going to affect AV systems in the not too distant future...

What is HDCP protection?

HDCP (or High-definition Digital Content Protection) is a digital content protection technology developed by Intel to help prevent copying of digital AV content - and, therefore, reduce piracy of movies and video content from DVD, BluRay, digital streaming, etc by connecting a recording device into an AV system

So using the example of a simple AV system featuring a HDMI source and a display, the two devices will communicate with one another every 2 seconds to establish a HDCP handshake in order for HDCP encrypted content to be successfully displayed.

What's new about HDCP version 2.2 ?

The latest version - HDCP 2.2 - has been developed to support 4K UHD video signals which we're going to see more and more of over the next couple of years as UHD content becomes more commonly available.

HDCP 2.2 protects 4K UHD content and –theoretically - is a more secure protection protocol in order to protect all this new content that the movie makers and TV production companies are currently investing in.

It works through a number of encryption keys communicated between all devices on the AV system (think of it, perhaps, as a series of digital 'handshakes' between devices) to verify that Source devices (such as BluRay or HDTV satellite boxes), Display devices (screens or televisions) and Signal Control devices (such as Splitters or Matrices) within an AV system are all HDCP 2.2 compliant (and, therefore, are not 'rogue' unlicensed HDCP non-compliant recording devices).

In addition, this latest release of HDCP also features a 'locality check' – which prohibits sharing of HDCP 2.2 protected content over long distances. The locality check sends a random number from the Transmitter, which it needs to receive back from the Receiver device within 20 milliseconds in order to authenticate the signal.

How will this affect my AV system?

At this early stage, still the majority of content we’re viewing is either at standard or HD resolutions and, therefore, you don’t need to change all of the devices on your systems straight away!

So if you're sticking with 1080p video transmission, there's currently nothing to worry about and your system is fine.

However, as we start to move towards 4K UHD content which will be carrying a HDCP 2.2 signal (and there is an increasing number of consumer source devices entering the market including the Sony FMP-Z10 UHD Media Streamer, BT Vision, Amazon Prime 4K and 4k Blu Ray players) - your current devices are going to start having problems!

Unfortunately, HDCP version 2.2 isn’t backwards compatible with legacy devices and legacy devices aren't upgradeable, with no firmware upgrades currently in the pipeline.

So what we suggest is that if you are considering moving towards UHD content anywhere in the near future, then any new devices you're buying for your existing system and all devices if you're looking to install a complete new system, then you should definitely be checking specifications for HDCP 2.2 compliance. (Many 4K UHD displays being released into the market feature both HDMI v2.0 and HDMI v1.4 ports, meaning that your screen will effectively be backwards compatible).

You may not need it right now (and it will still work with current systems and content), but as you move towards UHD in the near future, those ultra high resolution images simply aren't going to show on your screens or TVs!

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The CYP XA-HDCP is a great tool for converting latest HDCP 2.2 protected content to a lower HDCP format enabling AV content to be easily integrated into a system which uses non-HDCP2.2 compliant devices.

CYP XA-HDCP HDCP 2.2 Converter

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