How Does 8K Upscaling Work? 3

While it seems as though we have quickly moved from HD to 4K TV resolution, the truth is that 8K is already here for companies like Samsung. They are pushing 8K as their new standard and the standard by which everything else will be judged. It promises to make old TV shows and movies higher quality without the need to re-shoot any of those old shows in higher resolutions. So, how does it achieve all of this?

It’s incredible how fast TVs have evolved from standard definition to 8K!

Resolution Explained

When you watch a movie or TV show on your TV, you don’t see the hundreds of tiny pixels that make up the visuals unless you’re sitting very close to the screen. To some it may seem like yesterday, but before 1998, everything you saw on your TV was shot in Standard Definition – or SD. This was made up of 468 x 720 pixels. That is, the entire image was comprised of 468 pixels in height and 720 pixels in width.

When HD TVs hit the market, the pixel count went up accordingly. HD movies and shows have a maximum of 720 x 1080 pixels of resolution. In reality, this means that the more pixels there are, the more detail can be seen on the screen. In effect, the more pixels available, the closer and closer we get to the sort of resolution we enjoy with the human eyes.

Why Does 8K Matter?

To date, High Definition TVs have been using various mathematical formulas to effectively stretch that old SD content onto the screens so that they are watchable. For example, the old 480 x 720 content needs to be stretched a lot to be big enough to fit onto a 4K screen. If it’s not stretched like this, it will look like a postage stamp on the screen!

But imagine this: 8K is twice the resolution of 4K TVs. That is a total of 33 million pixels of information on the screen that needs to be filled. That old SD and even HD content will start to look pretty blurry and unclear if it has to stretch to fit an 8K screen. This is why 8k upscaling is so important.

How Does Samsung Do it?

Samsung 8K TV’s utilize AI to upscale lower definition content up to 8K.

The truth is that when 8K TVs hit the market big-time, all of that old SD, HD, and even 4K content will need to be stretched to fit those incredibly pixel-filled screens. TVs have been upscaling older content for years. When High Definition TVs were popular, special code was included in them that could stretch old TV shows and movies originally shot in Standard Definition. The same is done on 4K screens too.

The problem is that 8K screens have so much more resolution that the old stretching algorithms just won’t do a good enough job. The content would not just be blurry, but also jagged at the edges and have unsightly blocks everywhere.

So, what’s different about a Samsung 8K TV? Rather than use the older bi-cubic algorithms to interpolate and what pixels should go where when stretching old content, these new Samsung TVs use Artificial Intelligence.

The new 8K Samsung TVs use machine learning to upscale old content so that it looks clearer, sharper, and better on-screen than the older stretching methods. The engineers and programmers have taught it over thousands of hours of TV shows and movies to know how best to upscale specific content.

These databases contain a lot of information about what a TV show or movie should look like in 8K, and the AI processes it to look its absolute best according to all of the machine learning. For example, the TV will know what a sunset or sunrise should look like when upscaled. It will know what snow scenes and outdoor scenes should look like when upscaled too. It can even recognize objects and content on-screen according to what is in the database and then stretch it optimally so that it looks sharper and more detailed.

While many of us are still using HD TVs, 8K is already upon us. Samsung has seen the future and has included some extremely clever AI technology in their new TVs to make the transition easier for all of us. This means that we can continue to watch those old TV shows and movies and get many of the benefits of higher resolution screens.

Have any questions about 8K TV’s or upscaling? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Does the 8k tv upscale games such as ps4, PS3 and even ps2?

  2. Is there a setting to show the results of up scaling in real-time?

  3. Um, your figures for SD and HD are inaccurate above. In over-the-air broadcasting, an SD picture consists of 525 horizontal lines, of which 480 are active (the remaining 45 lines are used for the VBI, or vertical blanking interval, where data and closed captioning are found). This is called 480i broadcasting. Generally, the picture for broadcast SD is 640 pixels wide. DVDs are also considered SD, but show 480 lines progressively (480p video), with 720 pixels wide. So called “full” HD is 1920 pixels wide by 1080 lines high (out of a possible 1125) with broadcast being an interlaced picture (1080i) and a progressive picture (e.g. a Blu-Ray) having 1920 by 1080p). The lower resolution HD is 720p.

    J. Patrick McGrail, Ph.D. professor of broadcasting, JSU

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