What is DisplayPort 2.0, and when will it be available?
We've seen a lot of exciting features in HDMI 2.1: with the launch of the PS5 and Xbox X Series, HDMI 2.1 allows us to play majestic games on our TVs at 4K@120Hz's high spec, and it supports 8K resolution as well, which allows it to become the essential display port for many high-end 8K TVs released recently.
Meanwhile, DisplayPort 2.0, the latest protocol, was introduced in 2019. Do you know what it brings in terms of performance? Even two years after its launch, why are we still not seeing any DisplayPort 2.0 devices on the market?
Increased bandwidth, stunning performance
Can you recall the metaphor we used earlier? For video protocols, bandwidth resembles a water pipe: the larger the diameter, the greater the amount of water that can pass through; the higher the bandwidth, the greater the amount of data that can be transmitted. In comparison to DP 1.4, DP 2.0 substantially increases the bandwidth by three times to 77.4Gbps!
The increased bandwidth means that DP 2.0 can achieve unimaginably high resolution and high refresh rates. To get an idea of how incredible the improvement is, we compare the refresh rates and resolutions supported by the previous DP 1.4 and the latest DP 2.0:
With no compression or any colour degradation, DP 2.0 has a maximum resolution of 10K (10240 × 4320) and a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz at 4K resolution. With the Display Stream Compression (DSC) technology, the highest resolution can reach a stunning 16K (15360 × 8640). Gaming enthusiasts and audiophiles will definitely enjoy the absolutely amazing specs.
At the same time, DP 2.0 possesses excellent multi-screen support improvements, allowing it to appeal to productive users with high-resolution requirements. Despite having three 4K monitors connected simultaneously, the refresh rate can still reach 90Hz without any compression at all. Even if you connect it with two 8K monitors, the refresh rate can still be maintained at a silky smooth 120Hz.
Although there are currently no 8K 120Hz display devices available, it's not hard to imagine that DP 2.0 would be significant for the adoption of high refresh rates. We've already seen 120Hz screens with high refresh rates on phones and tablets, and the very low latency touch experience is something that cannot be overlooked. On larger screens, a high refresh rate provides a smoother gaming and viewing experience, and once you get used to it, there is no turning back!
The connector shape for DP 2.0 remains unchanged, and it is also backward compatible with the previous version of the DisplayPort protocol. In addition, DP 2.0 continues to support DP Alt Mode, which has been well received for its ability to be used on USB-C ports. Fully functional USB-C ports that support DP Alt Mode allow data, audio, video, and even electrical power to be transferred via a single USB-C cable. In fact, there are quite a few laptops on the market equipped with DP Alt Mode on the USB-C interface. With USB-C Monitors, it is very convenient to charge the laptop while transmitting video.
(The D-shaped logo on the right indicates that the USB-C port supports DP Alt Mode.)
HDMI vs. DisplayPort: A New Round of Confrontation
The relative strengths and weaknesses of HDMI and DisplayPort will always be a topic of discussion with the advent of their new generation protocol. As mentioned in our previous post, there are several battlefields: HDMI rules the living room, while DP is more popular among gamers. The following table also compares the main functional differences between the latest generation of HDMI and DisplayPort protocols:
However, in the latest round of the battle, the DisplayPort has fallen behind -- game consoles and TVs with HDMI 2.1 are already available, but DP 2.0 monitors and other hardware are still awaited. Even on the RTX 3090, which is the best gaming graphics card available today, you can only find DP 1.4 ports. Why is DP 2.0 still unavailable on the market two years after its release?
The future is beautiful, but it's not here yet
According to VESA, the main reason for the delay in the DP 2.0 launch program is the suspension of VESA's PlugTests 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. PlugTests is the key activity for testing systems and interoperability across multiple vendors, where engineers and hardware developers discuss, patch, and decide on standard implementations. Hence, the cancellation of PlugTests contributed to a significant delay in the commissioning of DP 2.0. PlugTests 2021 was scheduled to take place in Taiwan in the spring, but the exact schedule and launch plans are still unknown.
We'll most likely have to wait for a new DP 2.0 interface on the next generation of graphics cards. It has been predicted that Nvidia's next-generation graphics card will most likely be released in late 2022 or early 2023. If you are keen to experience the power of DP 2.0, you may have to wait a little longer to purchase hardware with the new interface.
Do you need DisplayPort 2.0?
If you're a gamer, you're probably not using a very high-resolution display screen. For gamers, a higher refresh rate is more important than a higher resolution, so a DP 1.2 cable already meets the needs of most gamers. If you want to play games at a high refresh rate of 144Hz on a 4K monitor, buying a DP 1.4 cable will also suffice. If you own one of those shiny new top-end gaming monitors that may be pushing the limits of DP 1.4, you can grab a DP 2.0 cable and get ready for the future.
If you are an videophile, 8K TVs on the market is actually good enough. There is an extremely limited selection of 8K monitors, and they are usually expensive as well. With either an HDMI 2.1 or DP 1.4 cable connection, these devices can play to their full potential.
If you don't play games, aren’t aiming for high resolution, and think your display looks pretty decent, then DP 2.0 doesn't mean much to you. The performance of DP 2.0 is incredibly strong, but you won't necessarily feel its significance. Not to mention that it's not on the market yet, and even if it were, the price would be quite high for a while, and it would take longer for it to gain traction on the market.