Can my HDMI ARC 2.0b devices be firmware upgraded to HDMI eARC 2.1?
In theory, this is possible, but it is highly unlikely. Jeff Park, director of technology at HDMI LA, informed that while there are premium chips out there which can be firmware upgraded, say that they are extremely expensive and rarely used by manufacturers. Chances are, your existing HDMI 2.0b devices don’t have one of those rare chipsets built into them.
We now already know that HDMI 2.1 version will have an improvement for the ARC, called eARC. This new version will support the most advanced audio formats and highest audio quality due to an increase bandwidth up to 38 Mbps (8 channels, 192 kHz, 24 bits).
So, considering the HDMI 2.0 a/b hardware potential, the huge numbers of devices with this connection already sold and that the HDMI 2.1 just for new devices, HDMI Licensing LLC should provide a firmware update for the current HDMI 2.0 a/b users that implement eARC, upgrading the current ARC.
Otherwise, you will be forced to replace all your latest generation electronics just to enjoy a function that could be already managed by your current hardware...