Before long, PC graphics cards could start sprouting Ethernet jacks. No, I'm not talking about the freakish GPU/NIC hybrid we saw at CES. LG, Samsung, Sony, and Valens Semiconductor have introduced a new audiovisual connection standard dubbed HDBaseT. The new standard employs Cat 5e/6 network cabling to carry audio and video content alongside a dedicated 100Mbps Ethernet connection.
The HDBaseT Alliance has a handy comparison chart (PDF) that nicely contrasts the specification's key features with other standards. While a little short on bandwidth when compared to DisplayPort 1.2, the first revision of HDBaseT matches the 10.2Gbps A/V data rate available with HDMI 1.4. HDBaseT can also pass an impressive 100W of power along cable runs up to 100 meters (328 feet). USB support has been integrated into the spec, as well.
HDBaseT's networking component is robust enough to support daisy chaining and star topologies, making it possible to link multiple consumer electronics devices with much simpler cabling than would be required today. The first devices to support the new standard are slated to arrive in the second half of this year, with more widespread adoption expected in 2011.