DisplayPort 2.0 launches, promising 8K video support by late 2020

HDMI 2.1 versus DP 2.0: Fight!

Credit: Jared Newman / PCWorld

While U.S. broadcasters are still mired in 1080p, foreign markets are already looking at 8K video—and that’s exactly what the new generation of DisplayPort technology, DisplayPort 2.0, is designed to address.

In late 2020, the first products incorporating the new DP 2.0 standard are expected to be made available, according to the Video Electronics Standards Association, or VESA. DP 2.0 can use the existing DP connector that appears on many high-end desktop PCs, or be carried over cabling that uses the standard USB-C connector—though you’ll still need a PC with DP 2.0 silicon to support it. 

DP 2.0 offers three times as much bandwidth as DP 1.4a, the current standard. While DP 2.0 keeps the four available data lanes as its predecessor, the available link rate has been increased up to 20Gbps per lane with 128-bit/132-bit channel coding. That translates into a maximum of 77Gbps, with support for 8K video: 7680x4320 at 60Hz, with full color 4:4:4 resolution at 30 bits per pixel for HDR.

DP? HDMI? What’s the difference?

As TechHive’s Michael Brown has noted, the differences between HDMI and DisplayPort boil down to this: HDMI was designed primarily for consumer electronics applications: Blu-ray players, TVs, and video projectors. Meanwhile, VESA designed DisplayPort to be the ultimate display interface for computers, so it complements rather than replaces HDMI. But the two standards still compete in the PC space. 

More USB-C implementations now include support for DisplayPort, but the legacy HDMI connectors are still a staple of laptops and desktops. Here are the differences between the two video standards.

HDMI has also moved to a next-gen interface. In 2017, HDMI 2.1 was released, with support for up to 10K resolutions and dynamic HDR. But HDMI 2.1 also supports just 48Gbps, versus the 77Gbps DP 2.0 allows.

Paving the way for 8K

VESA noted that Japanese broadcaster NHK has already begun broadcasting in 8K, including plans to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in that resolution. Not a single U.S. broadcaster offers a 4K package, though some Netflix content can be delivered in 4K with the appropriate subscription. VESA said it hopes the new standard will help move things forward. 

“Like the previous versions of DisplayPort that helped pave the way for major inflection points in video technology such as UHD, 4K, 5K, video over USB-C and HDR, DP 2.0 will help take the industry to the next level—enabling even higher frame rates and resolutions up to and beyond 8K, greater flexibility in display configurations including multiple monitor setups, as well as improved power efficiency,” said Alan Kobayashi, the VESA board chair and VESA DisplayPort Task Group chair, in a statement.

What video resolutions will DP 2.0 enable? 

VESA provided a list of supported video configurations that DP 2.0 will enable, so you can begin thinking of what your PC of tomorrow might look like.

Single-display resolutions:

  • One 16K (15,360×8,460) display @60Hz and 30 bits per pixel (bpp) 4:4:4 HDR (with Display Stream Compression, or DSC)
  • One 10K (10,240×4,320) display @60Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)
  • One 8K (7,680x4,320) display @60 Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 

Dual-display resolutions:

  • Two 8K (7,680×4,320) displays @120Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC)
  • Two 4K (3840×2160) displays @144Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)

Triple-display resolutions:

  • Three 10K (10,240×4,320) displays @60Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC)
  • Three 4K (3,840×2,160) displays @90Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (no compression)

Using the USB-C connector in what’s known as DP Alt Mode, as opposed to the traditional DisplayPort cabling, also offers a PC maker the option of splitting the four data lanes up in pairs. One pair can be used for general I/O and one utilized specifically for video. What this means is that essentially 38.7Gbps will be allocated for video and another 38.7Gbps for data, cutting down the available video configurations to this:

  • Three 4K (3,840×2,160) displays @144Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC)
  • Two 4Kx4K (4,096×4,096) displays (for AR/VR headsets) @120Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC)
  • Three QHD (2,560×1,440) @120Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)
  • One 8K (7,680×4,320) display @30Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (no compression)

The open question will how desktop, notebook, and chip makers will implement DP 2.0, or whether they’ll choose HDMI over DP, or vice versa. About the only answer we have comes from Intel, which publicly touted its contribution of the Thunderbolt 3.0 standard to support DP 2.0. That, at least, should mean you’ll see DP 2.0 support in products powered by Intel’s Core processors.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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