USB4 gets even more appealing with 16K DisplayPort screen support

Chris Davies - Apr 30, 2020, 12:41pm CDT
USB4 gets even more appealing with 16K DisplayPort screen support

USB4 is shaping up to be the one connector to rule them all, with word that the new USB-C port will support up to 16K resolution video among other things. The DisplayPort Alt Mode v2.0 will be able to drive a single 16K display – were you able to find such a thing – the VESA has confirmed, courtesy of the new high-speed interconnect.

USB4 is expected to head to markets in 2021, offering a super-high-speed alternative to Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3. It’ll support up to 40 Gbps data transfers, and be backward compatible with USB 3.2, 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3 as well.

One of the benefits – along with double the dual-lane speed that USB 3.2 offers – is the potential for driving a far more potent display. The USB Promoter Group had already talked about external GPUs, multiple Ultra HD panels, and daisy-chaining screens together. Now the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) is wading in with more specifics.

It’s making the DisplayPort Alt Mode version 2.0 interoperable with the USB4 specification. That means it’ll support all the features of DisplayPort 2.0, through the same USB Type-C connector. By tapping into all four of the high-speed lanes, it means a whopping 80 Gigabits per second for video.

That could mean an 8K 7680 x 4320 screen with a 60 Hz refresh rate, with full-color 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR resolution uncompressed. If you need even more pixels, it would also support a 16K (15360×8460) 60 Hz display with 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR resolution with compression.

Alternatively, DisplayPort Alt Mode can be a generous neighbor and share the bandwidth. Even with two of the lanes, that means 40 Gbps for video, with the remainder saved for simultaneous SuperSpeed USB for data.

It’s another step closer to the idea of a single cable that delivers everything for your desktop. You could daisy-chain two 8K displays, for example, or use it to for power, data, and video for a head-mounted display like a VR or AR headset. The first USB4 devices are expected to reach shelves in 2021.

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