What is SDI? Understanding SDI Video Standards, Applications, and the Difference between SDI and HDMI

What is SDI? Understanding SDI Video Interface

SDI, or Serial Digital Interface, has become a staple in various industries such as television, broadcasting, and security. Despite its widespread use in professional fields, it remains relatively obscure to the general public. Here at SC&T, we've compiled an in-depth guide to help you grasp and leverage the capabilities of SDI effectively.

Introduction to SDI Interface

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) introduced the SDI standard to usher digital signals into the realm of professional filmmaking. This transition to digital signals offers several advantages to industry professionals.

Reduced Signal Interference

Analog signals boast theoretically infinite resolution but are prone to distortion from noise interference. Even with methods like filtering, analog signals can only handle minimal interference, and the distorted signal is challenging to restore. In contrast, digital signals, represented in binary form, can be accurately decoded despite minor interference, and restoring distorted digital signals is comparatively easier than analog ones.

Standardized Video Format

In the past, the American audiovisual industry grappled with various manufacturers employing different analog interfaces, leading to equipment compatibility issues. The emergence of the SDI format gradually replaced analog signals, providing a unified option for professionals in filmmaking, broadcasting, and photography, thus fostering industry progression.

Enhanced Versatility

Digital signals offer rapid and stable transmission and replication through digital media, eliminating concerns regarding distortion and interference associated with analog signals. Additionally, digital signals are easier to manage and store and can undergo substantial enhancement, filtering, compression, decoding, and other functions, thereby streamlining various related tasks.

SDI Standards and Resolutions

Since its inception, SDI has found extensive application in the film, television, and broadcasting industries. SMPTE continually introduces new SDI standards to meet evolving requirements.

Common SDI input/output standards on the market include HD-SDI, which supports up to 720p and 1080i; 3G-SDI, which supports 1080p up to 60fps; 6G-SDI, which supports 4K at 30fps; and 12G-SDI, which supports 4K at up to 60fps.

We can also find SDI's technical standards such as SMPTE 292M, also known as HD-SDI, and SMPTE 424M, aka 3G-SDI, etc.

Standard Name Introduced Bitrates (Mbit/s) Example video formats
SMPTE 259M SD-SDI 1989 270, 360, 143, 177 480i, 576i
SMPTE 344M ED-SDI 2000 540 480p, 576p
SMPTE 292M HD-SDI 1998 1485 and 1485/1.001 720p, 1080i
SMPTE 372M Dual Link HD-SDI 2002 2970 and 2970/1.001 1080p60
SMPTE 424M 3G-SDI 2006 2970 and 2970/1.001 1080p60
SMPTE ST 2081 6G-SDI 2015 6000 1080p120, 2160p30
SMPTE ST 2082 12G-SDI 2015 12000 2160p60
SMPTE ST 2083 24G-SDI 2020 24000 2160p120, 4320p30

Does SDI Carry Audio?

SDI standards are used to carry digital video and audio signals. The audio data is embedded in the uncompressed video signal, allowing for the synchronized transmission of both audio and video over one cable. Consequently, SDI audio is typically used in professional broadcast environments where high-quality audio and video synchronization is crucial.

Applications of SDI Interface

Broadcasting and Television Industry

SDI interface stands as one of the most prevalent digital video signal interfaces in the broadcasting and television sectors. It serves as the backbone for transmitting high-quality digital video signals from cameras and video equipment to broadcasting equipment and recording devices.

Professional Video Production

The professional video production realm extensively utilizes the SDI interface to connect cameras, video monitors, recording equipment, and post-production tools, ensuring high-quality video production and post-processing.

Security Surveillance Systems

In security surveillance systems, the SDI interface is commonly employed for transmitting video signals captured by surveillance cameras. Its stability and high-quality transmission make it an ideal choice for such systems.

Remote Filming

With its capability to transmit video signals over long distances without distortion, SDI finds frequent use in applications like remote filming and live broadcasting.

SDI vs. HDMI: Each Serving Its Purpose

While HDMI is ubiquitous in today's audiovisual landscape, with almost all devices equipped with it, SDI remains indispensable in professional settings.


SDI, tailored for professional use, is a staple in video production and security industries, with most high-end equipment featuring SDI ports. On the other hand, the HDMI interface is highly prevalent and dominates the huge consumer market, gradually making its mark in professional fields.

Transmission Distance

SDI signals, utilizing coaxial cables, can extend over hundreds of meters, suitable for small to medium-sized studios. HDMI, in contrast, is limited to shorter distances of 5 to 15 meters and requires different extension methods.

Cost Considerations

Due to its professional-grade usage, SDI-related equipment and cables tend to be more expensive compared to HDMI, which is more consumer-oriented. Additionally, the setup and maintenance costs for SDI are significantly higher than HDMI.


While SDI was initially designed for video transmission, newer standards now support simultaneous SDI video and audio transmission. On the other hand, besides basic audio and video transmission, HDMI offers more features like HDMI ARC, CEC, and HDCP protocol support.

Connector and Cable Used

The SDI interface employs BNC connectors and coaxial cables for transmission, which can reach a longer distance than HDMI cables and is easy to integrate in security surveillance environments.

Format Digital
Resolution 4K and above
Connector /
Cable Used
Signal Audio and video
100-150m 5-15m
Cost More expensive Less expensive
Feature N/A ARC, CEC, HDCP
Application Professional video production
and security industry
Consumer market

SDI Devices

Incorporating SDI into setups often requires devices for conversion and extension.

SDI to HDMI Converters

SDI is prevalent in professional audiovisual environments, whereas HDMI is gradually gaining acceptance owing to its compatibility and consumer appeal. Accommodating diverse equipment, SDI and HDMI are concurrently utilized in professional environments. As a result, SDI and HDMI converters are commonly employed, offering users greater flexibility.

SDI01E-12G, SDI02E-12G

SDI over Fiber Extender

While SDI can easily send signals over 100 meters, it often requires a much longer transmission distance in large-scale venues such as sports events and concerts. In such cases, fiber optics are employed to extend the SDI signal, ensuring stable and seamless transmission.

2024-03-28 5:00 pm

Cable Used

Product Name


Power Source



1080p Distance

4K Distance

Optical Fiber Cable

HDMI Fiber Cable


(Reflection of Light)

Power From Source

Video/ Audio




HDMI Fiber Dongle Extender

Mini USB


300M/ 1KM

300M/ 1KM

Network Cable

HDMI CAT5e Dongle Extender


Power From Source

Video/ Audio




HDMI CAT5e Extender

External Power Supply

Video/ Audio




HDMI over IP Extender

Internet Protocol

External Power Supply

Video/ Audio




HDMI KVM over IP Extender*

Video/ Audio/ Keyboard/ Mouse



HDMI Cable

HDMI Repeater


External Power Supply

Video/ Audio




Related Products

No items found.
No items found.
No items found.

Get a Quote Today

Any questions about the product? Contact us by filling in the inquiry form in a few seconds, and get the quickest response from us!

Cookies Consent

We aim to enhance your experience on our website and would love your help to do so!

By accepting the storage of cookies, you assist us in analyzing website usage and refining our marketing strategies. We use cookies only to enhance your browsing experience and remember your preferences on this site.

You have full control over your cookie settings and can modify them anytime in the Privacy Preference Center. For a comprehensive understanding of how we protect your privacy, please refer to our privacy policy.