VESA’s update to DisplayPort 2.1a will allow the use of longer passive cables to connect to monitors, but Mac users won’t benefit from the change just yet.
The standard, announced by the Video Electronics Standards Association at CES 2024, is an update that chiefly affects the length of cables that can officially be used by DisplayPort. With a change in specification, users can potentially use cables that are up to two meters long (6.5 feet) in their computing setup.
Specifically, the change applies to the DP40 UHBR cable specification, which is replaced by a new DP54 UHBR version. Under the new version, it enables up to four-lane UHBR13.5 link rate support, allowing a maximum throughput of 54Gbps over a two-meter passive cable.
With this addition, DisplayPort 2.1a effectively doubles the passive cable length for UHBR13.5 GPU to display connections, namely from the DisplayPort connection to a display. Previously, UHBR13.5 was available only with DP80 UHBR cables at up to 1 meter in length.
For end users, this ultimately means being able to locate their monitors further away from the video source, or at least to have more cable length so that they can be routed properly for a clearer workspace.
Monitors connected via UHBR13.5 can offer resolution and refresh rate combinations as high as 8K2K at 240Hz or 8K4K at 120Hz using the four lanes.
Though VESA is going beyond the DP40 cable spec, it says existing DP40 cables that have shipped to date will be compliant with the DP54 specification. Devices that support UHBR20 link rates will continue to be supported by DP80 UHBR cables.
“With the latest update to DisplayPort, the UHBR13.5 cable spec is now purpose built to provide both UHBR10 and UHBR13.5 monitors and graphics cards with a longer passive cable,” said VESA compliance program manager James Choate. “Consumers are no longer limited to connecting UHBR13.5 sink and source devices with a one-meter DP80 cable, which provides more bandwidth support than what their hardware needs and, in some cases, might be too short for their setup, for example with ultra-wide curved displays.”
For Mac users, the new standard won’t make much of a difference for current-gen models. Thunderbolt 5, which offers 80Gbps of bandwidth and support for DisplayPort 2.1, will probably allow for support for DisplayPort 2.1a, which future Mac releases should be able to take advantage of.
VESA’s CES announcements also included a new Automotive Extension specification protocol. The specification introduces a standardized way to verify data transferred from a GPU was received by the display in the same way it was sent, to eliminate noise injection or errors.
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