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What the 4K: High-def DisplayPort vid meets reversible USB Type C
No more $1,000 monitor cables, Best Buy heartbroken
The new Type C USB connector is causing a lot of excitement, thanks in part to its reversibility (you can plug it in either way up) and high rates of data and power transfer. But there's now another reason to buy into in: DisplayPort support.
The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) on Monday finalized DisplayPort Alternate Mode – allowing cable and device manufacturers to, we're told, pipe 4K video, audio, high-speed data and 100 watts of power through Type C ports. DisplayPort Alt Mode can, for what it's worth, drive HDMI, DVI, and VGA adapters.
Getting a DisplayPort signal through the Type C cable involves running the data along two or four USB 3.1 lanes at up to 5.4Gbps, if you're using a DisplayPort 1.2a compatible device, or up to 8.1Gbps with the latest specification, 1.3.
According to VESA, "using 5.4Gbps across all four high-speed lanes will support up to 4K (4096 x 2160) display resolutions at a 60Hz frame rate with up to 30-bit color."
The standards body added that the max speed will rise to at least 10Gbps with later DisplayPort revisions.
"Apple, Microsoft and Google were the biggest pushers of this move to support [DisplayPort over Type C USB]," Craig Wiley, a VESA board member, told The Register.
He added that the trio of tech titans particularly wanted the video standard because the Type C port was designed small enough to fit into thin phones and other gadgets – and all three of them have smartphones to sell.
Wiley said the first adopters of the new Type C connector will be the mobile industry, with tablets and notebooks following on.
Exactly how the DisplayPort-capable Type C will be branded for people to recognize, in terms of logos and so on, is still being hammered out. But any compatible cables will have to be certified by VESA.
The branding will also, hopefully, stop retailers from charging ridiculous amounts for cabling with no extra benefits: the gear should work exactly the same, whether it costs ten bucks or a thousand.
"When we first briefed Best Buy on DisplayPort we told them that as long as the cable was compliant, they would all work the same – thinking they'd be happy with the simplicity," Wiley explained.
"They had a problem with that, saying and they want people to understand that good cables are better. It's such a sham, and we're not backing down. I'm a connectivity specialist and I buy my cables from Frys for $5 a pop." ®