The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) announced Monday its forthcoming DisplayPort 2.1 specification, developed to provide greater alignment with USB Type-C and USB4 while adding new features for more efficient DisplayPort tunneling over USB4.

Tunneling is a feature introduced to USB4 (introduced in 2019) that comes from the port’s Thunderbolt 3 integration. Tunneling allows multiple protocols, including USB, DisplayPort and PCIe, to all operate at the same time.

USB4 can share a single high-speed link with multiple end-device types dynamically, best serving each transfer by data type and application. USB4 requires USB-C connectors, and USB PD for power delivery. USB4 products must support 20 Gbit/s throughput and can support 40 Gbit/s throughput, but tunneling enables even nominal 20 Gbit/s to achieve higher effective data rates in USB4, compared to USB 3.2, when sending mixed data.

VESA said the latest version of the DisplayPort specification will be backward compatible with and supersedes the previous version of DisplayPort (DisplayPort 2.0).

DisplayPort is a digital connector standard developed by VESA primarily for the PC/IT industry. It has occasionally appeared on consumer television sets but is found more commonly as a cable link between PC’s and monitors.

“VESA has been working closely with member companies to ensure that products supporting DisplayPort 2.0 would actually meet the newer, more demanding DisplayPort 2.1 spec,” the association announced. “Due to this effort, all previously certified DisplayPort 2.0 products including UHBR (Ultra-high Bit Rate) capable products – whether GPUs, docking station chips, monitor scalar chips, PHY repeater chips such as re-timers, or DP40/DP80 cables (including both passive and active, and using full-size DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort or USB Type-C connectors) – have already been certified to the stricter DisplayPort 2.1 spec.”

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The Association said the new spec, continues to meet the goal of establishing a robust, visual experience, “whether across a native DisplayPort cable, via DisplayPort Alt Mode (DisplayPort over the USB Type-C connector), or tunneled through the USB4 link.”

DisplayPort 2.1 tightens its alignment with the USB Type-C and USB4 PHY specification. DisplayPort 2.1 also adds a new DisplayPort bandwidth management feature to enable DisplayPort tunneling to coexist with other I/O data traffic more efficiently over the USB4 link, the announcement said.

The increased efficiency comes on top of mandated support for VESA’s visually lossless Display Stream Compression (DSC) codec and VESA’s Panel Replay capability, the announcement said.

DSC bitstream support can reduce DisplayPort transport bandwidth in excess of 67% without visual artifacts, while VESA’s Panel Replay capability can reduce DisplayPort tunneling packet transport bandwidth in excess of 99% when Panel Replay operation is taking place.

“Achieving greater alignment between DisplayPort and USB on a common PHY has been a particularly important effort within VESA given the significant overlap in use case models between the DisplayPort and USB4 ecosystems,” stated Alan Kobayashi, VESA Board Chair and VESA DisplayPort Task Group Chair. “DisplayPort 2.1 brings DisplayPort into convergence with USB4 PHY specifications to ensure the highest video performance across a broad range of consumer products. Display transport through DisplayPort, with its higher bit rates and proven visual quality of DSC compression even for HDR content, offers ample bandwidth for the needs of virtually every practical application. Features such as driving multiple displays over a single cable, or enabling multiple functions on a single port like video, power and data transfer, no longer require any compromise in video format choice.”

VESA said DisplayPort 2.1 also updates the DisplayPort cable specification to provide greater robustness and enhancements to full-size and Mini DisplayPort cable configurations to improve connectivity and longer cable lengths (beyond two meters for DP40 cables and beyond one meter for DP80 cables) without diminishing UHBR performance.

VESA certified DP40 cables support up to the UHBR10 link rate (10 Gbps), with four lanes, providing a maximum throughput of 40 Gbps, while VESA certified DP80 cables support up to the UHBR20 link rate (20 Gbps), with four lanes, providing a maximum throughput of 80 Gbps.

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By Greg Tarr

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