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What is DisplayPort? DisplayPort or DP, as it is commonly known, is a digital display interface. This was developed by a group of chip and PC manufacturers. It is then further standardized by VESA or the Video Electronics Standards Association.
This digital display interface is mainly used to connect an external device, especially a video source to the display device, for example, a computer monitor.
Apart from carrying video signals, the DP can also carry audio signals, different forms of data, cables, and connectors or Universal Serial Bus.
Though the DP can send audio and video data and signals simultaneously, this is an optional feature, and one can be sent without the other, but in different forms and ways.
- When it comes to sending the video signals, the path used can vary from six to sixteen bits for each color channel.
- As for the audio signals, on the other hand, the path used can be up to eight channels with features like 24-bit and 192 kHz of uncompressed PCM audio.
The design of the DP consists of a half-duplex, bi-directional, auxiliary channel. This carries device control signals and ensures management of data. This data is used for the main link that comes in different standards, such as:
- MCCS or Monitor Control Command Set
- VESA EDID or Video Electronics Standards Association Extended Display Identification Data and
- DPMS or Display Power Management Signaling.
In addition to that, the DP interface is also designed to carry USB signals that are bi-directional in nature.
Ideally, the need to design a DP was to replace several things, such as:
- The VGA or Video Graphics Array
- The Front Panel Display or FPD Link and
- Digital Visual Interface or DVI.
The best thing about the design and interface of DP is that it is backward compatible with other interfaces. These interfaces include HDMI. This is done by using either the active or passive adapters, both of which works in a different way.
- The external passive adapter enables the compatibility mode of the DP. This helps in converting the signal from 3.3 to 5 volts.
- The powered active adapter, on the other hand, is required for the compatibility with dual link and analog VGA or YPbPr DVI. However, it does not rely on dual mode.
The active VGA adapters are driven directly by the DP connector but the active dual-link DVI adapters, on the other hand, characteristically depend on the external power source like the USB.
What is DisplayPort?
Looking into the history of the DisplayPort, it is the first ever display interface designed that depend on packet data transmission.
This is a special type of digital communication that is used in most of the technologies of today, such as:
- Ethernet and
- PCI Express.
The port allows using different external as well as internal display connections.
The working mechanism and protocol of the DP typically involves small data packets. This makes it much different from the other legacy standards which transmits a clock signal with every output.
These small data transmission packets used by the DP are called micro packets. In these packets the clock signal is embedded within the data stream. There are different benefits of using these small packets, namely:
- The mechanism lets the DP produce higher resolution by using fewer numbers of pins making it easy and more reliable to use.
- It also makes the DP more extensible that will allow the users to connect additional features over time and for that you will not need to make any substantial alterations to the physical interface.
There are usually two varieties of DP. One is the standard DP and the other is the Mini DisplayPort, which is much smaller in size.
Still, in spite of the difference in size of the two variants of DPs, both of these transmit indistinguishable signals.
It is quite possible that you mix up an HDMI port with a DisplayPort in your computer system. This is because the DP cables are pretty similar to the high-speed HDMI as well as the bandwidth of the two is also pretty similar.
Nevertheless, there are a few specific and significant differences between the two connection types.
For example, the DP has a much higher refresh rate even when it works at the highest workload and peak resolution.
In fact, it is 60 Hz in comparison to the refresh rate of 24 Hz of an HDMI port.
Moreover, a DisplayPort can be connected to an HDMI port by using a DP-to-HDMI converter cable but the same may not be possible for an HDMI port or connector.
The interface of the DisplayPort uses an LVDS or Low Voltage Differential Signaling protocol. This protocol is not compatible with HDMI or DVI.
However, the dual-mode ports transmit TMDS or Transition Minimized Differential Signaling protocol usually followed by the single-link HDMI or DVI ports.
There are different versions of DisplayPort available, and each of these versions come with different features and functionalities. These are:
1.0 to 1.1 – Figuratively, 1.0 is the first version and was approved by VESA on 3 May 2006. Then came the 1.1 version on April 2, 2007 and 1.1a was ratified on January 11, 2008.
- The 1.1a DP version has a maximum bandwidth of 10.8 Gbit/s or 8.64 Gbit/s data rate and needs over 2 meters of cables to support that bandwidth.
- DP 1.1 allows the connected devices to use the alternative link layers like the fiber optic, for instance. It allows a much longer reach between the display and the source without degradation of the signal. Though it does not standardize alternative implementations, it includes HDCP apart from the DisplayPort Content Protection or DPCP.
1.2 – This version was ratified on January 7, 2010. This DP type came with one of the most notable improvements in the design.
The effective bandwidth of this port was almost doubled to 17.28 Gbit/s. The other improvements included transmitting data in HBR2 or High Bit Rate 2 mode.
This feature, in turn, helped in increasing several things such as:
- The resolutions
- The color depth and
- The refresh rates.
The design of this specific version also helped the port to perform in a much better and different way which included multiple independent video streams through a daisy-chain connection with a number of different monitors.
This process is called the Multi-Stream Transport or MST. In addition to that, there are other enhancements as well, such as:
- It facilitated stereoscopic 3D
- It increased the bandwidth of the AUX channel from 1 to 720 Mbit/s
- It provided more color spaces such as scRGB, Adobe RGB 1998, and xvYCC
- It altered the GTC or Global Time Code for sub 1 μs audio and video synchronization.
The 1.2a variant of the DisplayPort came out in January 2013. The unique, though optional, feature of this DP is the Adaptive Sync for operation.
This Free Sync feature uses the PSR or Panel Self Refresh feature from the Embedded DP standard. This is used in standalone displays.
1.3 – This DisplayPort version was launched on 15th September, 2014. This port came with an increase in transmission bandwidth up to 32.4 Gbit/s overall. It also came with the innovative HBR3 mode.
The unique thing of this feature is that the bandwidth was increased to 8.1 Gbit/s in each lane instead of 5.4 Gbit/s of the HBR2 feature of the 1.2 DP version.
The increased bandwidth of this version enabled the port to support different displays such as:
- A 4K UHD display that can produce images at 3840 × 2160 resolution and at a frequency of 120 Hz with RGB color of 24 bit/px
- A 5K UHD display to produce images at 5120 × 2880 pixels at a speed of 60 Hz with RGB color of 30 bit/px
- An 8K UHD display that produces images at 7680 × 4320 pixels at a speed of 30 Hz and with RGB color of 24 bit/px.
Another unique aspect of this specific version of DP is that it can use Multi-Stream Transport or MST technology.
This helps it to drive two 4K UHD displays or four WQXGA displays that produces images at 60 Hz, 2560 × 1600 pixels and 24 bit/px RGB color and High Dynamic Range or HDR. Check out differences between Full HD and 4K displays.
The Adaptive Sync feature in the specification of this port also remains optional as it is in 1.2a version.
1.4 – This version was published on March 1, 2016. The transmission mode here was still HBR3 but the additional feature of it was to provide support to DSC or Display Stream Compression 1.2.
It also had:
- Forward Error Correction
- Rec. 2020 color space for Ultra-High HDTV
- HDR 10 static and dynamic metadata
- HDMI interoperability and
- Maximum number of parallel audial channels up to 32.
This version can also support 8K UHD as well as 4K UHD displays with the combination of HBR3 transmission rates and DSC encoding technique.
This Distributed Source Coding is a ‘visually lossless’ technique. It provides up to 3:1 compression ratio.
The 1.4a DisplayPort version came out in April 2018. This had everything of version 1.4 along with an updated DSC implementation of 1.2 to 1.2a.
2.0 – This version of DP was supposed to come out in early 2017 with an enhanced link rate up to 10.0 Gbit/s and an increased total bandwidth up to 40.0 Gbit/s.
However, it did not happen in 2017, but was released on June 26, 2019. This version was much more powerful than the previous versions in several different ways, such as:
- It had newer and better capabilities to deal with the requirements of the traditional displays of the future and
- It is capable of providing up to three times faster data transfer at 77.37 Gbit/s.
This made this version much more capable than just supporting 8K resolutions, High Dynamic Range or higher refresh rates.
The feature helped the port to provide support to different and multiple display configurations.
This enabled it to provide higher and better user experience with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality displays.
Though the products with DP 2.0 will only be available after a few months this year, once it does, it will provide support to resolutions that are 4K, VR and beyond.
The expectations from this latest version of DisplayPort is quite high. Check out the differences between DisplayPort and HDMI.
According to a report, the configuration and the increased bandwidth of DP 2.0 will provide more versatility and will enable the port to provide support at a much higher degree.
It will support higher refresh rates and display resolutions apart from 8K at 60 Hz and HDR support, and that too for single, dual and triple display resolutions.
For single display resolutions it will support:
- One 16K or 15360 × 8640 display at 60 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color with DSC and
- One 10K or 10240 × 4320 display at 60 Hz and 24 bit/px, SDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 uncompressed color.
For dual display resolutions it will support:
- Two 8K or 7680 × 4320 displays at 120 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color with DSC and
- Two 4K or 3840 × 4320 displays at 144 Hz and 24 bit/px, SDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 uncompressed color.
For triple display resolutions it will support:
- Three 10K or 10240 × 4320 displays at 60 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color with DSC
- Three 4K or 3840 × 4320 displays at 90 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 uncompressed color.
It will also support using only two lanes on the USB-C connector through the DP Alt Mode. This will, in turn, provide simultaneous SuperSpeed USB video and data.
The Alt Mode of this port will enable it to provide a wide range of high-performance configurations such as:
- Three 4K or 3840 × 4320 displays at 144 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color with DSC
- Two 4K x 4K or 4096 x 4096 displays at 120 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 color with DSC for AR or VR headsets
- Three QHD or 2560 × 1440 displays at 120 Hz and 24 bit/px, SDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 uncompressed color and
- One 8K or 7680 × 4320 display at 30 Hz and 30 bit/px, HDR and RGB or Y′CBCR 4:4:4 uncompressed color.
Irrespective of the version of DP your computer system has, the working process at the most basic level remains the same.
It will work just as any other average audio and video data connectors. You simply have to plug one end of the cable into the desktop computer, or laptop, or any external graphics card, and the other end into the display.
The devices will automatically detect one another and will configure. However, you may have to select the DisplayPort input using a remote or manually by the controls displayed on the monitor.
In addition to that, you may also need to set the right resolution as well as the refresh rate manually for the display or displays.
On a more technical level, the DisplayPort will work by using the data transmission in small packets very much in the same way as the PCI Express ports on the motherboard and the Ethernet cables do.
The DisplayPort is more expandable and expendable in nature. This means that, as and when required, it can be reiterated upon and added to over time.
In the past decade, the Display Port has been one of the most significant and innovative display technologies. It can support just about any mainstream resolution right from 30 Hz and up to 240 Hz.
However, the actual support provided by the DP will depend on different factors such as:
- The number of monitors used
- The resolutions set for these monitors and
- The version of DP connector that is being used.
Going by the statistics of usage, the most common DP version used is 1.4, especially on those mainstream graphics cards and modern gaming monitors. There are a few specific reasons for it, which are:
- It supports the same resolutions and refresh rates as DP 1.3
- It can do so without compression
- It can one handle 4K display up to 120 Hz
- It can support two 4K displays at 60 Hz and
- It can support up to four displays of 2560 x 1600 pixels at 60 Hz.
On the other hand, if it uses Display Stream Compression, it can also deal with the same resolution and refresh rate but with more color depth and support.
In fact, every DP version that has come up since 1.2 is able to offer support at 240 Hz for 1080p resolution.
Reasons to Use DisplayPort
As technology evolves over time, the DisplayPort technology will become useful for everyone, though at present it is typically found in high-end devices.
As of now, it is much more of a premium connection type and a mainstream solution to HDMI connector.
However, with the evolution of the rival cable standard, the DisplayPort is poised to develop in leaps and bounds in the years ahead in terms of refresh rate support and higher resolution.
With its innovative and beneficial features, the DisplayPort will become much more effective and mandatory in the near future.
It will be integrated with different other technologies such as USC Type C and Thunderbolt to perform in a much better way.
In short, it will surely become the most dominant standard for display technology in the years to follow.
It will be the most reliable and high-performing display standard that will not hold you or the performance of your system back, even at the very least.
You will be able to do whatever you want to do with the devices that are compatible with it.
As said earlier, a DisplayPort acts as a connector to different external devices, especially displays, to the computer system. However, apart from the connectivity aspect, there are also several other good reasons and advantages to use it.
If you look at it from the technical aspect or the manufacturing point of view, it will provide you with advantages such as:
- A greater bandwidth
- A whole set of expansive features that can be included over time and
- A much greater integration with other ports such as Thunderbolt.
On the other hand, if you consider the perspective of a consumer, the two most significant reasons to use a DP are:
- Support for higher resolutions and
- A much more significant gain in the refresh rates.
Often, you can accomplish these two simultaneously.
Another significant reason to use a DP, of any version, is that it is much better an alternative to the HDMI connector.
The DP can support much higher resolution and refresh rate than the HDMI connector.
For example, a standard 2.0 HDMI connector can support resolutions up to 5K and that too at 30 Hz and a 4K resolution at 60 Hz.
On the flip side, the DisplayPort 1.4 can handle double that refresh rates at the same resolution. It can support 8K resolution most easily and efficiently at even 30 Hz.
If you consider the latest generation of the DP technology, the DisplayPort 2.0, it even ups the ante even higher by supporting up to 16K resolution. It can even support two 8K displays at a higher refresh rate.
The simplest reason to use a DP is that almost every modern monitor and graphics card needs it.
There is a high chance that these monitors will come with alternative ports such as an HDMI or DVI connector built inside the system to connect other devices to it externally.
However, if you want to use a virtual reality headset or even any secondary display for that matter that is already using this technology, then you will have no alternatives left but to use the DisplayPort.
The good thing about the DP is that even if your monitor does not have a DP connector, you can use one of the several adapter or converter options available for it.
An HDMI port will not allow this, which is another strong and valid reason to use a DisplayPort.
These adapters will allow you to connect to and provide with different options such as:
- DVI and
- Mini DisplayPort monitors.
Some of the few other specific reasons and advantage of using a DisplayPort instead of an HDMI connector are:
- It has an exceptional performance capability – It will not only support transmission of data signals and uncompressed full-color or with DSC for 4K video at 60 Hz but will also provide adequate support to 3D stereo and multi-channel audio systems. This means that you will have both, a better viewing experience as well as a much more enhanced listening pleasure, thanks to its ability to carry both audio and video data and signals simultaneously.
- It comes with a much greater compatibility – The DP connector is far more compatible than an HDMI connector and supports many different adapters and converters for several legacy displays including VGA, HDMI and DVI along with an assurance of providing protection and support to your content with its HDCP or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection feature which is a specific digital copy protection established by Intel Corporation.
- It offers much more and better functionality – By providing adequate support while connecting multiple displays with a single video output, it will provide your system with the power to stream autonomous content to separate displays using its Multi-Stream Transport technology. This technology will allow it to display the same image on different displays separately, thereby extending the desktop successfully and effectively across the displays or combination of several displays. This will help you to create a video wall! However, this feature will be restricted to the capability of the equipment.
- A DP connector will offer more versatility – Whether it is a standard DisplayPort or a Mini DisplayPort connector that comes with a pretty small form factor, it will be much more versatile than an HDMI port. It will fit well into any compact and smaller devices such as the tablets and notebooks. In addition to that, the DP will allow you to combine it with other standards in a single connector such as a USB. This adds to the versatility quotient of the port.
Apart from the above, there are also several other reasons for the continuously growing interest of using a DisplayPort standard among the users.
It will promise higher productivity with its unique features such as multi-streaming ability, higher resolution, better sound output and more, all by using only a single DisplayPort output.
It will also make things look very ‘cool’ and attractive to the eyes with multiple displays showing the same image side by side.
With the use of a number of monitors, it will help you to park the content and de-clutter your working landscape.
You will find working on the system and even multitasking much easy and more convenient because you will not have to juggle with or resize the windows every now and then.
If you had to do this, it would not only have been most annoying but would have also taken up a longer time to complete a specific task, and that too, inefficiently.
There is no need to use a bundle of cables to use the multiple screens if you use the DP connector.
You will need only one cable to connect and carry the signal to multiple monitors, which will make your workplace free from a lot of cables lying around which may cause accidents and other hazards.
The high bandwidth signal of the DP will ensure high quality graphics. This is because the signal from the display output will be divided into distinct video streams. This will enable displaying all different content on the multiple monitors.
While gaming, you can expect to get the ultimate experience. This is because the DisplayPort ensures the best performance for the gaming display arrangements and configurations.
You will be able to enjoy and use the full capabilities of the innovative graphics available.
There are two specific things that gamers need from their system, namely:
- Multiple monitor competences and
- High resolution.
The DisplayPort will provide you with both. You can expect the highest resolution of the images displayed at a higher refresh rate for an uninterrupted gameplay with no screen tears or lags in video signal emitting.
It will also offer you with 4K Ultra HD support at a good enough speed of 60 Hz through the single cable, most consistently at the highest resolution obtainable.
With its support for AR and VR, you will now not need to wear those bulky and cumbersome head-mounted displays to get a memorable and thrilling PC gaming experience.
The multiple monitors will make it more immersive, gripping and realistic.
However, whether or not to use a DisplayPort is a relative aspect. It all depends on what exactly you want to do with your system.
You will have different needs depending on the situation. For example, it will be different when you simply want to connect your laptop or desktop computer to a device that works.
On the other hand, your needs may also be different if you want to play a game on your device or do some graphics intensive tasks on it such as high-end and professional photo and video editing.
However, when you wish to use a DisplayPort, there are a few things that you should certainly do, such as:
- You must make sure that the monitor you want to use supports both connections.
- It is also required to make sure of the version of DisplayPort your systems will support.
- Also, find out the refresh rate, resolution, and other features and find out whether or not that specific DP version can handle those effectively.
Ideally, the DisplayPort technology will work fine for both internal as well as external display connections.
It is for this reason this is extensively and effectively used as a workable link between the Systems on Chip or SoC controllers of several different Digital TVs and the timing controllers of the display panels, thanks to the iDP or Identity Provider technology.
With the evolving technologies, the DisplayPort will soon become the most effective alternative to HDMI.
Its ability to support high resolution of high-end displays along with its feature support provides just the kind of bandwidth required to ensure this.
It is certain to take over some of the more mainstream technologies and become a mandatory feature and display standard pretty soon.