The LG UltraFine Display’s 5K screen is something to behold, but the Video Electronics Standards Association, better known as VESA, announced its early certification program for interfaces using the DisplayPort standard that can drive 8K video resolution. Not to be outdone, the HDMI Forum also today announced HDMI spec 2.1, which can drive 8K resolutions as well.

While the promise of 8K and higher sounds interesting, it’s a relatively long way off in the mainstream consumer space. However, there are some more practical applications that DisplayPort’s High Bit Rate 3 (HBR3) will allow for, which might be of special interest to MacBook users.


One of the biggest takeaways is that HBR3 enables support of 4K at 60Hz using only two DisplayPort lanes. This means that DisplayPort Alt Mode via the USB-C interface can provide full 4K resolution at 60Hz, and still have two high-speed lanes remaining for SuperSpeed USB operation.

Why is this of note? Take the recently released LG UltraFine 4K Display, for example. That display takes advantage of DisplayPort Alt Mode, but the remaining downstream USB ports are forced to use antiquated USB 2.0 due to the lack of bandwidth. HBR3 would solve such an issue.

To be fair, this isn’t exactly new, as DisplayPort 1.3, which was ratified in September 2014, also includes HBR3. VESA thereafter rolled HBR3 into DisplayPort 1.4. Unfortunately the Thunderbolt 3-enabled MacBook Pros and the 12-inch MacBook still rely on the HBR2-laden DisplayPort 1.2 for external display connectivity.

DisplayPort’s HBR3 data rate supports a total bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps when using all four lanes in the DisplayPort or USB Type-C connector, at 8.1 Gbps per lane. VESA states that this provides a combined audio/video payload data rate of 25.92 Gbps from the source to the display device, a 50 percent increase in bandwidth compared to DisplayPort-enabled that use HBR2 in DisplayPort version 1.2.

DisplayPort 1.4, which was published early last year, includes additional notable features as well. Such features include High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 8K video across the USB-C connector, and 8Kp60Hz / 4Kp120Hz resolutions with HDR deep color.


Sharp’s 27-inch 8K display revealed in Japan last year

HDMI 2.1

The HDMI Forum today announced the follow-up to the HDMI 2.0b spec, appropriately titled HDMI 2.1.

The HDMI 2.1 spec supports 8K resolutions at 60Hz, and 4K resolutions up to 120Hz thanks to a new 48Gbps cable. The cable is backwards compatible with earlier versions of the HDMI specification and can be used with existing HDMI devices.

8K video with dynamic HDR is also supported by means of the new cable. The HDMI Forum explains that Dynamic HDR ensures every moment of a video is displayed at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast, and wider color gamuts—on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.


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