Lately, there have been two rushes in display technologies – higher resolutions and higher refresh rates. Going for one at a time is attainable, but trying for both at the same time provides a serious challenge in terms of bandwidth.
The display connectivity protocols that exist are simply not powerful enough to support both of these advancements at once. We might be getting excited over being able to drive 4K at 60 Hz with the upcoming HDMI 2.0 devices, but I think we can do better than that, and the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) apparently agrees. VESA has just announced the DisplayPort 1.3 standard, which should theoretically be able to drive 4K displays at 120 Hz.
The DisplayPort 1.3 standard increases the maximum bandwidth to a staggering 32.4 Gb/s, which not only offers support for 4K at 120 Hz but can also be used to daisy-chain two 4K 60 Hz DisplayPort 1.3-enabled monitors. Still not impressed? It will also allow you to run a 5K monitor over a single DisplayPort cable. So far, we've only seen one of those monitors from Dell, although we're not sure whether it comes with DisplayPort 1.3 support. Apple might also have a 5K display in the works. We've reached out to Dell for an answer, and we'll let you know when we hear back.
In order to ensure that the standard is a little more future-proof, VESA has also given it native support for the 4:2:0 sampling method. With this compression, you'll be able to drive a future 8K display from what will then be an antiquated DisplayPort 1.3 output. This is similar to what Nvidia has done in order to achieve 4K at 60 Hz over an HDMI 1.4 interface.
When we reached out to VESA to ask when we'd be seeing DisplayPort 1.3-enabled devices hit the market, we were told that it would happen throughout 2015. Hopefully, the upcoming GTX 980 and GTX 970 graphics cards have DisplayPort 1.3 interfaces, because otherwise it will be a long wait before this announcement becomes relevant. VESA has made the DisplayPort 1.3 standard available for free to all members of the association.