Welcome to 12G-SDI, Part 1
Transmission standard offers 4K efficiency with backward compatible upgrade path

Introduced in 2015, the 12G-SDI serial digital interface (SDI) standard builds on a legacy of open video transmission standards, which stretches back more than 25 years and is supported by the vast majority of manufacturers serving the professional video space. While there are several 4K and UHD resolution standards, 12G-SDI’s 11.88 Gbps bit rate supports 2160p60 (3,840 vertical lines and 2,160 horizontal lines) 4K video.

Broadcasters and other content creators have accepted the familiar, reliable, and backward compatible 12G-SDI transmission standard. However, it has been a challenging standard for many manufacturers, because it requires a high-speed printed circuit board (PCB) layout that can meet the SMPTE-defined data rate requirements.

12G-SDI technology can transmit a 4K signal through a single cable

With eight times the bandwidth of HD-SDI, 12G-SDI technology can transmit a 4K signal through a single cable. A 12G-SDI coax is still 75 ohm, but it has better shielding and less dropoff than a standard coax built for 3G-SDI signals. Several manufacturers produce a variety of cables designed to manage a 12G-SDI signal reliably for more than 100 yards, though distances can be increased significantly over optical fiber.

Advantages of single cable connectivity

Single cable connectivity is one of several advantages that 12G-SDI provides for broadcast operations that produce 4K programming. With one cable instead of four, there are fewer points of failure in the signal chain. Plus, for outside broadcast (OB) vehicles in particular, fewer cables mean less weight and potentially smaller routers and other components, which can translate to improved space and equipment flexibility.

The 12G-SDI signal delivers uncompressed audio and video, and supports all ancillary data, with low latency and no copyright protection. Like previous SDI standards before it, 12G-SDI is backward compatible, so upgrade paths are less complicated (and less expensive). In fact, Quad Link 12G-SDI provides an upgrade path to 8K for broadcasters.

Want to learn if 12G-SDI is the right standard for your facility? Schedule your FOR-A 12G-SDI demo here. Part 2 will explore 4K transmission alternatives, including IP-based solutions and HDMI.

Popular SDI Interfaces

StandardBit RateVideo FormatSMPTE Standard(Year)
SD-SDI270 Mbps480i259M (1994)
HD-SDI1.483 Gbps1080i/720p292M (1998)
3G-SDI2.97 Gbps1080p424M (2006)
12G-SDI11.88 Gbps2160pST-2082 (2015)


ClassX Graphic Generator
EDA-2100 Delay Adjustment Unit
EDD-5400 Time-Lag Checker
ERS-44-12G Routing Switcher
ESG-4100/4200 Test Signal Generator
FA-9600 Multi-Purpose Signal Processor
FT-ONE-SS4K Ultra Slow-Motion Camera
HVS-1200 Video Switcher
HVS-6000/6000M Video Switcher
Insight Video Server
MFR-1000 Routing Switcher
MFR-4100 Routing Switcher
MFR-6100 Routing Switcher
MV-1640IP IP Multi Viewer (Planned for future support)
MV-4000 Multi Viewer Series
Universal System Frame (USF) Series
USF-10IP Series IP Gateway (USF-106TICO-12G is required)
USF-106TICO-12G Encoder/Decoder
USF-105FS-12G Frame Synchronizer
USF-106UDC-12G Up/Down Converter
USF-101MDX4-12G Audio Multiplexer/Demultiplexer
USF-101MDX8-12G Audio Multiplexer/Demultiplexer

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