A new display standard has been finalised that provides enough bandwidth to drive 8K displays at high refresh rates.
It’s called DisplayPort 2.0, and it offers three times the available bandwidth of the current standard, DisplayPort 1.4.
The announcement, made by interface standards body VESA, means that DisplayPort 2.0 is not yet in any currently-available devices, just that its specifications are final. The next step is for manufacturers to take those specifications and include it in their upcoming products.
This is important because monitor and TV technology is always advancing, getting new features that require more and more bandwidth from the connecting technologies that take video signals from computers and output them to screens.
If you’ve walked through an electronics shop or shopped online for a monitor recently, you’ll no doubt have noticed how 1080p televisions and monitors are considered entry-level now, while higher-resolution screens are becoming more and more common while their prices keep dropping.
You’ll also have noticed how these modern screens now offer superior colour depth and higher refresh rates, hitting 60Hz and beyond at resolutions of 1080p and up.
Since more things need to be done to each pixel every second to achieve these wonderful results, and there are more pixels than ever, more data must be supplied over the cable that connects the output device to the screen.
And because the current DisplayPort standard (1.4) can only supply so much bandwidth, it just hasn’t been able to keep up and a new standard has been required.
Illustrating the point
Think of the connection between PC and screen as a pipe supplying a town with water. The pipe can deliver only so much water, and if the town grows and needs more water than can be supplied, the pipe will be unable to meet the town’s water needs.
Logically, and assuming an unlimited water supply, the solution is a thicker pipe that can carry more water to the town.
In this case, DisplayPort 2.0 is the bigger pipe, 8K is the growing town, and DisplayPort 1.4 is the older pipe that’s just not thick enough anymore to meet the town’s needs.
Introducing DisplayPort 2.0
Here are some of the numbers VESA is throwing around:
|DisplayPort 1.4||DisplayPort 2.0|
And here are the resolutions and refresh rates supported by the new standard:
Considering 8K is four times the resolution of 4K, that means each 8K screen has a total of 33.1 million pixels. A standard that’s capable of supplying enough data to refresh that many pixels 60 times a second is a truly monumental technological achievement.
This information (and other deeper technical details on DisplayPort 2.0) can be found on the official VESA.org website.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll see that DisplayPort 2.0 is backwards-compatible and will use connectors that are the same shape as previous DisplayPort ones, so you can still connect older displays to new devices that support DisplayPort 2.0 and use legacy converters to change the signal to DVI, VGA, or HDMI.
DisplayPort 2.0-supporting cables themselves are another topic entirely, though: regular “8K-certified” copper cables can support DisplayPort 2.0, but at limited bandwidth. For any new device to take full advantage of all of DisplayPort 2.0’s capabilities, new cables will be needed that have transceivers at each end.
Fortunately, tech site Anandtech reckons these will likely be included inside the box of such products.
That link is also a great place to find a really deep dive into this announcement, so click it if you want even more in-depth technical info.
Why is this important?
In the grand scheme of things it could be argued that DisplayPort 2.0 is not all that important. Mainstream 8K content is still years away and 8K TVs and monitors are still ludicrously expensive, making them the sole domain of very wealthy early adopters for now.
But from a purely technological perspective, it’s pretty cool. Expect to see DisplayPort 2.0 in products being announced early next year (or even later this year if we’re lucky), and to appear in retail products in a store near you in the second half of 2020.