The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced the latest iteration of DisplayPort technology: DisplayPort 2. This new standard will support resolutions up to 16K and will use traditional DisplayPort or USB-C connectors. Expect to get your hands on it in 2022.
What is DisplayPort?
DisplayPort is the video transfer standard that most people have never heard of. At a basic level, it’s nearly identical to HDMI. The current iteration of DisplayPort can transfer 8K video at 60 hertz and audio to TVs and monitors (HDMI 2.1 supports 10K). It is available in a large and mini format (like Mini HDMI). And, like HDMI cables, DisplayPort cables are really cheap.
So why do people use DisplayPort? Well, for one thing, it’s useful for multi-monitor setups. Unlike HDMI, DisplayPort has a sophisticated “daisy chain” feature. You can plug a monitor into your computer via DisplayPort and then run DisplayPort cables from that first monitor to the other displays in your setup. It’s clean, it’s intuitive, and IT pros and PC gamers love it.
But unless you own a high-end monitor or computer, chances are you won’t be able to use DisplayPort at all. Since pros and gamers usually use it, manufacturers don’t bother installing DisplayPorts in cheap computers, monitors, or TVs. So should you be interested in DisplayPort 2? Is it revolutionary in any way?
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DisplayPort 2 is scalable and VR ready
The latest iteration of DisplayPort is, essentially, an upgrade to the current DisplayPort specifications. It’s pretty cut and dry. DisplayPort 2 supports 8K, 10K, and 16K video resolutions with a 60Hz refresh rate (twice the resolution and bandwidth of current DisplayPort standards). It transfers data at a rate of 77.37 Gbps and will support HDR10. Additionally, all DisplayPort 2 devices will require support for DSC, which is a lossless image compression standard that some manufacturers ignore.
These specs are impressive on their own. But they’re more impressive when you consider how they can influence VR games. DisplayPort 2’s 77.37Gbps payload delivery is more than ideal for VR gaming, and VESA claims the upgraded video standard can send 4K 60Hz video to up to two VR headsets at once. (via the daisy chain function, which is of course a part of DisplayPort 2.)
And, thankfully, DisplayPort 2 is backwards compatible with older DisplayPort hardware (the shape of the cable hasn’t changed). This shouldn’t be a problem for small devices like phones and laptops – USB-C is also fully compatible with DisplayPort 2 (more on that in a second.)
With 16K video and data transfer speeds compatible with virtual reality, DisplayPort 2 seems to be future proof. We may not see an upgrade to the video standard for another decade.
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DisplayPort 2 Piggy-Back over USB-C
If you’ve never bought a DisplayPort cable, you may never buy a DisplayPort 2 cable. This isn’t a knock on the punch – it’s actually a sign that VESA knows how to ensure DisplayPort’s survival . While DisplayPort 1 required the DisplayPort connector, DisplayPort 2 can also work over USB-C.
You read correctly. VESA adopts the standard USB-C connector.
USB-C is set to replace DisplayPort and HDMI ports on nearly all consumer electronics (it’s already standard on MacBooks). This is possible because USB-C cables support so-called Alternate Modes. It’s a bit confusing, but each USB-C cable contains four lanes of data transfer, and each lane has a bandwidth of 20 Gbps. In alternate mode, the direction of these lanes can be changed, so that a computer can send data at a rate of 80 Gbps to, say, a monitor.
Sound familiar? DisplayPort 2’s 77.37 Gbps data transfer rate can comfortably accommodate USB-C Alternate Mode. That doesn’t mean you’ll need an adapter to connect a USB-C cable to a TV or monitor. That means your next DisplayPort 2-enabled TV or monitor will have USB-C ports, and you’ll be able to transfer video from any phone or computer to that display via USB-C.
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When will devices have DisplayPort 2?
VESA expected DisplayPort 2 to hit the consumer market in late 2020, but that version has been pushed back several times. Currently, DisplayPort 2 is expected to appear in mid-2022. But in reality, this transition depends entirely on the manufacturers of computers, telephones, televisions and displays. If a device isn’t designed to support DisplayPort 2, then that’s it. A USB-C port will not suffice, the internals of the device must be upgraded to the latest DisplayPort standard.
That being said, it’s likely that DisplayPort 2 will come to high-end devices and displays before it gets to $200 laptops and budget TVs. HDMI 2.1 is capable of handling 10K video, so there’s not much incentive for manufacturers to immediately ditch the technology for cheap products.