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Everything You Need to Know About DisplayPort 2.1

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If you’re into high-frame rate 4K or 8K graphics, you need a cable and port to handle the massive amount of data sent from your PC to your monitor. This is where VESA’s DisplayPort 2.1 comes in.

It features capabilities that let you enjoy next-generation graphics on the latest displays. But what’s exactly new with DP 2.1? And how does it compare to HDMI 2.1?

What’s New With DisplayPort 2.1?

Months after VESA created the UHBR certification for DisplayPort 2.0 in February 2022, the group is releasing its latest version—DisplayPort 2.1. In the VESA press release, the group said it is “backward compatible with and supersedes the previous version of DisplayPort (DisplayPort 2.0).

That’s because DisplayPort 2.1 does make any physical changes to its ports and cables. Instead, it focuses on improving DisplayPort over USB Type-C (DisplayPort Alt Mode) and USB4 compatibility. USB-C and USB4 are different standards made by the USB Implementers Forum—both of which are expected to be used in the coming years by most devices.

That means any device or product that previously supported DisplayPort 2.0 also supports the DisplayPort 2.1 standard. However, VESA also clarified with Ars Technica that, moving forward, manufacturers must meet the requirements for DisplayPort 2.1 to be certified for it.

DisplayPort 2.1 also adds bandwidth management and mandated support for VESA’s Display Stream Compression (DSC) and Panel Replay technologies. Furthermore, DisplayPort 2.1 certification requires DP40 and DP80 cables to operate at total capacity at lengths beyond 2m (6.6 ft) and 1m (3.3 ft), respectively.

Although these additions do not increase the standard’s maximum resolution and refresh rates, these improvements make the Display standard more efficient when run via USB. Given the increasing ubiquity of this port, it just makes sense for VESA to want to make their standards run well with it.

DisplayPort 2.1 vs. HDMI 2.1

Although VESA’s latest release doesn’t make many changes for DisplayPort 2.0, how does it compare against the latest version of the competing HDMI standard?

DisplayPort 2.1 (DP80) DisplayPort 2.1 (DP40) HDMI 2.1
Maximum Total Bandwidth 80 Gbit/s 40 Gbit/s 48 Gbit/s
Data channels 4 4 4
Maximum Passive Length 1m 2m 3 to 5m
Maximum Refresh Rate (4K/10-bit color) 267 142 153

The Future of Display Transmission

DisplayPort 2.1 allows VESA’s standard to have better compatibility with USB. As many devices use USB-C for data and power transmission simultaneously, it just makes sense for VESA to optimize its standards for that. Doing so can ensure its users get the best possible experience, even if using DisplayPort via their USB-C ports.

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