You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Thin: A Case for DisplayPort
Many of my company’s latest display products, including architectural video walls and new 4K LCD displays, as well as a new image-processing system, utilize DisplayPort inputs. Adding to the range of digital and analog inputs available across the product line, DisplayPort has a number of advantages that are attracting equipment manufacturers, like Planar, to act.
And we’re not alone in the adoption of DisplayPort. According to the market analyst firm IDC, DisplayPort penetration will experience a compound annual growth rate of 106 percent between 2009 and 2014. DisplayPort is estimated to be on 95 percent of commercial notebook computers in 2014.
So, why is DisplayPort capturing this kind of attention? I asked some of Planar’s product and engineering team to discuss the benefits of DisplayPort.
Marques Girardelli, manager of electronic platforms, suggested a number of reasons that DisplayPort is gaining ground, at least from a technical perspective. “Locking connectors, support for dual-mode, multistream and scalable bandwidth transport all set DisplayPort apart,” he said. “The big driver for us has been its higher bandwidth.”
DisplayPort 1.2 supports up to 720 MHz, which is more than enough bandwidth to support 4K resolution at 60 Hz with 10-bit color — something previously unachievable with HDMI, as the 1.4b standard limits 4K content to 30 Hz and 8-bit. “In the future, Planar will be able to take advantage of additional features of DisplayPort, like powering accessories and even smaller connectors.” The Lightning connector on the iPhone 5, for instance, was made possible by DisplayPort’s architecture. Ultimately, rich media on thin devices require many of the features of DisplayPort.
But DisplayPort is not without its challenges, especially as the market is in transition. “The downsides to DisplayPort today are easy to overcome with planning,” said Peter Lawrence, product manager for Planar Mosaic. “The cable lengths for DisplayPort are more limited than HDMI, which is why products like Mosaic allow source looping on the videowall, to limit the run length and installation complexity, and there are a growing number of DisplayPort extender options.”
Patrick Lagarrigue, electronic engineer at Planar’s Albi, France, office told me, “DisplayPort signals automatically adapt to cable lengths, which make set-up much easier than with DVI or HDMI.”
DisplayPort is a more advanced connector type, which can make it difficult to convert from HDMI or DVI. “If you are using HDMI or DVI out, you need to use an active adapter,” Lawrence explained. “We have helped many customers identify active adapters to use with their favorite digital signage players that do not yet have DisplayPort outputs.”
Ultimately, it is the positive momentum in the market that is driving further adoption. “The PC industry is adopting the standard rapidly,” said Steve Seminario, our senior director of product management. “We are seeing it in more and more output devices and nearly every player or PC company has a roadmap to include it in the future.” Lawrence added, “We are encouraging customers to adopt DisplayPort because using it for HDMI or DVI devices requires just a passive cable while you future-proof your computing investment. As new products using DisplayPort arrive on the market, you can enjoy the new features and bandwidth made possible with the new standard.”
How many DisplayPort connections are you making on AV projects today?