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What is DisplayPort? | Definition from TechTarget

What is DisplayPort?

DisplayPort is an interface for digital displays, particularly computer monitors. VESA developed DisplayPort as a high-performance replacement for other display modes, such as Video Graphics Array and Digital Visual Interface.

What is DisplayPort used for?

Like other digital display interfaces, DisplayPort transmits data packets from a source device to a display device, such as a monitor. This approach is similar to the technology employed in USB and Ethernet connections. The interface is extensible and supports high resolution with a reasonable number of connector pins.

DisplayPort offers several advantages over previous standards. Some notable examples are the following:

  • It is an open, royalty-free standard.
  • Its extensibility encourages widespread adoption.
  • It offers a video data transfer rate (DTR) of up to 17.28 gigabits per second (Gbps).
  • It can transmit multiple video streams over a single connection.
  • Flexible bandwidth allocation enables any desired division of resources between audio and video.
  • It is adaptable to long-distance transmission over fiber optic cables.
  • It can support communication between chips and circuits within a single device.
  • It can drive displays directly, eliminating the need for auxiliary control hardware.

Numerous manufacturers have announced their intention to support DisplayPort. Among the most well known are Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Pioneer, Philips and DataPro.

image of a flatscreen computer monitor
The DisplayPort interface for digital displays is used for computer monitors, in particular.

What is the difference between HDMI and DisplayPort?

Both High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and DisplayPort are audio and video interfaces used to transmit data between source devices. While they serve similar functions, they have distinct features and specifications. The differences come down to their technical specifications, features and predominant use cases. DisplayPort is meant to complement, not replace, HDMI.

What is better: HDMI or DisplayPort?

DisplayPort, like HDMI, can transmit video and audio data individually or simultaneously. Which is better depends on the use case. For example, DisplayPort is better suited for high-end gaming monitors as it supports high resolutions and refresh rates. HDMI is the preferred option for home theaters because of greater support for audiovisual and TV receivers. When it comes to general use, both DisplayPort and HDMI are more than capable of doing the job, and which one is best depends on the specific ports available on the device.

image contrasting HDMI, DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort
HDMI vs. DisplayPort vs. Mini DisplayPort cables

DisplayPort version history

The DisplayPort has gone through several iterations since its introduction.

What is DisplayPort 1.1?

DisplayPort 1.1 was the first version of the specification and was approved by VESA in May 2006 and ratified in April 2007. It supported a maximum bandwidth of 8.64 Gbps over a standard four-lane main link. The effective data bandwidth is 7.92 Gbps, considering the overhead due to encoding. A revised version, DisplayPort 1.1a, was released shortly after to address some minor issues.

What is DisplayPort 1.2?

DisplayPort 1.2 was ratified by VESA in December 2009 and introduced in January 2010. It significantly increased the maximum total bandwidth to 21.6 Gbps, and the effective data bandwidth was 17.28 Gbps in the High Bit Rate 2 (HBR2) mode. This enabled higher refresh rates and more significant color depth. VESA’s Adaptive Sync was released as an option in DisplayPort 1.2a in January 2013.

What is DisplayPort 1.3?

The ratified DisplayPort 1.3 specification, unveiled in September 2014, elevated the maximum transmission rate to 32.4 Gbps. This advancement was made possible by introducing the HBR3 mode, which supports 8.1 Gbps for each lane, culminating in an effective DTR of 25.92 Gbps once the 8 bit/10 bit encoding overhead is accounted for. Consequently, it can comfortably support a 4K Ultra HD display resolution (3840 x 2160) operating at 120 hertz with a 24-bit per pixel red, green and blue color spectrum.

What is DisplayPort 1.4?

DisplayPort 1.4 was officially released in March 2016, maintaining the existing highest transmission capacity of the previous version (32.4 Gbps). Although it failed to establish new transmission modes, it introduced several notable features, including the incorporation of Display Stream Compression (DSC), the ability to correct forward errors and compatibility with High Dynamic Range (HDR) 10 metadata detailed in the Consumer Technology Association 861.3 standard, which incorporates both static and dynamic metadata, along with support for the Recommendation 2020 color space, enhancing HDMI interoperability. Furthermore, it expanded the potential number of inline audio channels to a maximum of 32.

What is DisplayPort 1.4a?

The 1.4a iteration of DisplayPort was unveiled in April 2018, with an update involving a transition in the DSC specification utilized by DisplayPort, moving from version 1.2 to 1.2a.

What is DisplayPort 2.0?

In June 2019, VESA introduced the significantly updated DisplayPort 2.0 standard. This release, the first significant update since March 2016, tripled the data rate capacity from 25.92 to 77.37 Gbps compared to that in the 1.4a version. It supports beyond 8K resolutions, higher refresh rates and enhanced HDR at top resolutions. The upgrade, which aids multidisplay configurations, also improves augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, supporting ultrahigh VR resolutions.

What is DisplayPort 2.1?

VESA unveiled the 2.1 version of the DisplayPort standard in October 2022. This update introduced DP40 and DP80 cable certifications, designed to ensure optimal functioning at the Ultra HBR10 (40 Gbps) and UHBR20 (80 Gbps) speeds, first seen in version 2.0. Moreover, amendments to the electrical prerequisites for DisplayPort apparatuses helped foster better synergy with USB4.

DisplayPort 2.1 enhances its compatibility with both USB-C and USB4 PHY specifications, promoting a unified PHY that can accommodate both DisplayPort and USB4. Furthermore, the integration of a novel bandwidth management attribute facilitated more efficient DisplayPort tunneling, alongside other input/output data traffic over the USB4 connection.

What is DisplayPort Alt Mode?

DisplayPort Alternate Mode (Alt Mode) is a standard that enables DisplayPort video output transmission through a USB-C connector. This was facilitated by developing and implementing the USB-C connector and USB Power Delivery specifications, which enabled USB cables to carry data for different kinds of signals, including video signals for DisplayPort and HDMI.

What is a DisplayPort cable?

A DisplayPort cable is a type of cable designed to facilitate the transmission of video and audio data between a source device, such as a computer, and a display device, such as a projector, monitor or television. DisplayPort cables use the DisplayPort interface standard to enable high-performance digital connectivity.