As we talked among the various people that we know across the industry we stumbled upon some people that gave us some preliminary details about DisplayPort 1.3. Many of you may know DisplayPort as the cable that powers your Thunderbolt devices or the connector that allows you to power that 4K monster of a display that you’ve got. All of that is thanks to DisplayPort 1.2 and it doesn’t look to be slowing with companies like Samsung, Panasonic and LG planning to use DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity in their 4K TVs. As we mentioned before, HDMI 2.0 was only announced as a standard in September and sort-of-maybe caught up with DisplayPort 1.2 which is actually a 4 year old standard. Now, we’ve got information about the new DisplayPort 1.3 standard, with lots of new features and improvements over 1.2.

Back in January of this year, VESA announced the Display Stream Compression Standard which set in motion the necessary companies to help ratify the standard, hopefully by the end of this year. Realistically, we will probably see it announced before DisplayPort 1.3 or at the same time. Unlike other image or video compression standards, the Display Stream Compression Standard aims for a lower compression ratio and emphasizes visually loss-less performance, low latency and high data throughput. The expectation is that Display Stream will be visually losses with varying compression ratios depending on the resolution, with mobile getting better compression. The Display Stream compression standard will be used in DisplayPort 1.3 since it is a Low Latency, Zero Artifact compression algorithm. Display Stream Compression is already being used in mobile, but will be used in DP 1.3 because we?re reaching the limitations of copper bandwidth. But the ultimate goal of DisplayPort 1.3 is to support 8K resolution, which will either be 7680 × 4320 (16:9) (33.1 megapixels) or 8192 × 4320 (~17:9) (35.3 megapixels).

With DisplayPort 1.3 the bit-rate will go from 5.4 Gbps in DP 1.2 to 8.1 Gbps per channel in DP 1.3. DisplayPort 1.3 will be HBR3 (High Bit Rate x 3) All standard DisplayPort cables support RBR, HBR (High Bit Rate), and HBR2 (High Bit Rate 2), which can support 4K at 60Hz, or up to four 1080p displays using multi-stream. HBR 3 is merely an continuation of that. HBR is merely 2.7 Gbps, HBR2 is 5.4 Gbps and HBR3 is 8.1 Gbps per channel. Do note, that 8.1 is not double 5.4, which was what improvement was seen going from 1.1 to 1.2. This is purely due to the limitations of copper and the length of the traces. What this results in, is a cable with a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps. With overhead removed, we’dl probably see something closer to 29 Gbps, but we won’t know the final figures until the standard is announced.

Right now, with DisplayPort 1.2 we are using all the bandwidth for 4K displays, which is something that was thought about way back when DisplayPort was created. Now, with DisplayPort 1.3 companies want to be able to power two 4K displays (or 4K 3D) or even one 8K display with a single cable. 8K is 4x as many pixels as 4K, and you simply have to use compression in order to be able to accomplish 8K at a reasonable bandwidth. In order to do 8K, they will only be able to support just under 12 bits per pixel. DP 1.2 will continue to be an ongoing brand for all of the new 4K stuff coming in late 2013 and 2014, but DP 1.3 will be seen as a future standard to work towards.

Working through the channel models, it is still not known whether or not they will be able to keep the same cable or connector or whether they will need to use a repeater due to the limitations of copper. More likely than not, for certain lengths you will probably be able to keep the same cable and for longer lengths, a repeater may be necessary. Those parameters are still yet unknown. They are looking at a MicroDP connector as well for smaller form factors.

In order to get 8K, have to push the bandwidth up and increase compression and they will also start to offer data connectivity, something they tried and failed to do in DisplayPort 1.2. They have an aux channel and other data channels. DP 1.3 will have a packet switching version similar to what TI had done with Dockport. They are also planning on adding new power options in order to deliver more power to devices in order to be able to charge and power a device while operating it. Much like MHL, MyDP and Dockport already do. They will also have the ability to bring touch data through the aux channels as well. This should enable for more elegant touch solutions and lower BOM costs on mobile devices. Also, with eDP 1.4 they also have a PSR (Panel Self-Refresh) and partial update, which allows for the GPU to be shut off for mobile applications in order to help manage power consumption.

All in all, if all of these features get implemented in the DisplayPort 1.3 standard, we are going to be in for a world of awesome. This will not only enable some great display resolutions, but solve a lot of problems that DisplayPort 1.2 didn’t address. I have always been a champion of DisplayPort and its overall utility and usefulness, and since the HDMI 2.0 update, it proves that the working group style of standards really results in a better more forward-thinking standard. Most of the HDMI 2.0 improvements are never going to be utilized by consumers, while DisplayPort, which was once billed as a professional display standard looks to be far more beneficial for consumers and professionals. The DisplayPort 1.3 standard is likely to be announced in Q2 2014 and we probably won’t see devices utilizing it until 2015.