Phison PS3110-S10 A quad-core controller that is designed for use in high-end enthusiast-class SSDs. It has an eight-channel design and claims to enable sequential read and write speeds of 550MB/s and 530MB/s respectively for SSDs using MLC NAND. Random read and write performance is claimed to be in the region of 100,000 and 90,000 IOPs respectively. Such performance figures are comparable to the latest highend SSDs in the market today. The Phison PS3110-S10 will also offer hardware AES encryption.
Silicon Motion SM2256 The latest controller from Silicon Motion is an improvement over the existing SM2246EN controller already used in some drives today. The SM2256 adds support for TLC NAND and features Silicon Motion’s NANDXtend errorcorrecting code technology that claims to be able to improve the endurance of TLC NAND. It can also be extended to accommodate 3D Vertical NAND in future. Like most modern controllers, AES encryption comes as standard and the controller claims to be able to offer sequential read and write speeds of up to 540MB/s and 480MB/s respectively, meaning it is comparable with today’s mainstream SSDs.
JMicron JMF680 The JMicron JMF680 is an update to the current JMF670H controller and differs by offering support for TLC NAND, made possible by its improved error-correcting code engine. The JMF680 will also feature Write Booster, JMicron’s own SLC cache technology that boost performance when paired with TLC NAND, which typically suffers from poor write performance. The JMF680 features a four-channel design and is targeted at mainstream users. Like the Silicon Motion SM2256, the JMicron JMF680 was designed to be extensible, so it will also be able support 3D Vertical NAND in future.
Most 4K TVs support something called HDCP, which stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, but only the more recent ones come with HDCP 2.2, the latest generation content protection mechanism. Simply put, HDCP attempts to secure the connection between the source and display (and anything in between); and expectedly, the protection system is the strongest yet in version 2.2.
Now, HDCP 2.2 is really designed for 4K content, so you’re fine if you think you’re going to stick with 1080p all the way. But there will be a problem if you’ve a 4K source device (e.g., a Blu-ray player) or service that’s HDCP 2.2-compliant and is trying to send protected 4K signals to a non-HDCP-2.2 4K TV. The TV would most likely show a blank screen. To make matters worse, non-HDCP-2.2 devices can’t simply be upgraded to support HDCP 2.2, because specific hardware is required.
In short, if you’re buying a new 4K TV (or home theater projector or receiver) today, it’s of your best interest to make sure that it supports HDCP 2.2. Many consumers like to buy from second or third-tier brands because they’re usually more affordable; and while there’s nothing wrong with that, be mindful that such TVs often lack the latest features like HDCP 2.2.
For early adopters who’ve bought a non-HDCP-2.2 4K TV, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do. But now that you know what it is, don’t be too surprised if some 4K content won’t display properly on your TV some point down the road.
Because HDCP 2.2 is very new and often used as a selling point, manufacturers would usually indicate which connections on their devices support it.
Early and cheap 4K TVs typically come with HDMI 1.4, and while it supports 4K just fine, it has a framerate limit. To be more precise: 30 frames per second for 3,840 x 2,160 and 24fps for 4,096 x 2,160.
HDMI 2.0 is designed to support higher bandwidth (up to 18Gbps) than 1.4, and as a result, it’s able to do 4K at framerates up to 60fps. Other features include options for the Rec. 2020 color space, 4:2:0 chroma sub-sampling, up to 32 channels of audio, 21:9 aspect ratio, dual video streams, and improved 3D and CEC functions. HDMI 2.0 is also backwards compatible with HDMI 1.x.
In a nutshell, HDMI 2.0 can only get more important as more 2160/60p content arrives. For futureproofing’s sake, there’s no reason to omit it if you’re buying a 4K TV (or receiver) today. Some early 4K TVs are able to upgrade from HDMI 1.4 to 2.0 through a firmware update, but that is not a guarantee and really depends on the manufacturer.
Also, while HDMI 2.0 and HDCP are often mentioned in the same breath, know that one doesn’t equate the other. Although it’s possible to upgrade from HDMI 1.4 to 2.0 through a software update, the same doesn’t apply for HDCP 2.2 (see above). In addition, if a 4K TV supports HDMI 2.0, it doesn’t mean it also supports HDCP 2.2.
For those interested, the latest HDMI version now stands at 2.0a, with high dynamic range (HDR) video support the major new feature added.
While HDMI 2.0 is a real standard, don’t get cheated to buy an expensive HDMI 2.0 cable, because there’s no such thing. A regular High Speed HDMI cable is all you need.
HEVC/H.265, or High Efficiency Video Coding, is a compression standard that succeeds the MPEG-4/H.264 AVC standard. Expectedly, it’s much more efficient (almost 200%) than its predecessor, which becomes important when dealing with high-res, high-bandwidth 4K content. As such, HEVC has become the go-to compression scheme for 4K streaming services, like those from Netflix, Amazon, and M-Go.
The good news is unlike 4K TVs sold in 2013 and early 2014, recent 4K TVs from name-brand makers mostly come with a built-in HEVC decoder, so they shouldn’t encounter any hiccups when playing HEVC-compressed 4K streams. That said, it’s still possible for a HEVC decoder-equipped 4K TV to not playback HEVC 4K content, something we saw on the 2014 Panasonic AX800/802 series. In this particular case (which was resolved in October 2014 through a firmware update), they weren’t able to play Netflix’s 4K content because the TVs’ processing chip didn’t meet Netflix’s certification requirements.
At the moment, we aren’t aware of any HEVC problems in any of the latest 4K TVs made by name-brand TV manufacturers. If anything, check if HEVC is supported if you’re buying a model in their lower-end series. Again, be more careful with off-brand 4K sets, because their makers are less likely to be as enthusiastic with regards to such certification.
For those who have bought a 4K TV in 2013, you could be out of luck, unless you’ve one of LG’s earliest 4K TVs that came with a built-in HEVC decoder, or a Samsung 4K TV, like the S9 and F9000. The latter didn’t come with HEVC support, but it can be added easily via Samsung’s external One Connect upgrade box.
4K streaming services such as Netflix tend to use HEVC, so your TV needs to have an HEVC decoder to show the content properly.
Strictly speaking, a 4K TV that has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels (or 2,160p) should really be called a UHD (Ultra-High Definition) TV or 4K UHD TV to avoid confusion with the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) standards, the latter of which are specs defined for digital cinema production and projection systems.
Standards and trade bodies like the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in the U.S. and Digital Europe in Europe have also gotten into the act of defining 4K for consumer products and coming out with their own standardization logos. Both organizations agree that 4K UHD has a pixel count of 3,840 (horizontally) and 2,160 (vertically), and there must be 8 million addressable pixels (3,840 x 2,160) that use an red-green-blue (RGB) sub-pixel layout.
Which brings us to the brouhaha that started last year with regards to whether a 4K panel using a red-green-blue-white (RGBW) sub-pixel arrangement can be considered a true 4K UHD TV. Commonly found in China, these cheaper RGBW-based LEDLCD 4K TVs use a fourth white sub-pixel, which results in lower energy consumption without sacrificing brightness. However, due to the pixel arrangement and the fact that each pixel isn’t made up of three colored sub-pixels, image quality may take hit as their resolution and color accuracy aren’t as good as ‘true’ 4K panels using a RGB matrix.
At the end of the day, it boils down to the question of whether you can see the difference. The danger is more with 4K TVs using RGBW panels sourced from unknown suppliers, because for these panels, you’d never know the ratio between the RGB and white subpixels. This is yet another reason why we always recommend buying from reputable TV makers.
The TVs that we colloquially call ‘4K TVs’ should really be called ‘UHD TVs’ or ‘4K UHD TVs’ to avoid confusion with DCI 4K standards.