DisplayPort’s Multi-Monitor Feature Saves Power and Money

DisplayPort’s killer feature may be its ability to support multi-display monitors from a single digital output port and provide full display performance with zero latency, while consuming less power and costing less than other multi-monitor solutions.

By Ji Park and Henry Zeng, IDT

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Video/Imaging DesignWire
(11/13/2009 4:00:37 PM)

Benefits vs. Other Solutions
So what are some key benefits compared with existing conventional multi-monitor display implementations? To start, the DisplayPort implementation can be a full hardware implementation. So monitors, motherboards, docking stations and adapters can simply be true, easy-to-use, plug-and-play systems. No change is required on the source device (GPU/display driver) and it can easily work with all DisplayPort-enabled PCs (be it a notebook and desktop). Another key feature of the DisplayPort multi-monitor solution is that, since the solution is achieved purely through hardware, no Microsoft WHQL certifications are needed.

In addition, because the DisplayPort-based implementation is a standards-based protocol that is compliant and compatible to DisplayPort v1.1a, VESA Direct Drive Monitor, HDCP v1.3 and EDID v1.4, there is broader industry support with full interoperability compared with some proprietary-based implementations based on USB. A single-source implementation is not an industry standard and presents challenges when it comes to broad industry adoption. In addition, cost-effectiveness can only be achieved through open market competition.

Another key feature of DisplayPort-enabled multi-monitor display solutions is that some system solutions can run on the captive power of the DisplayPort cable, which is based on the standard. Since the DisplayPort cable can carry a 1.5 W, various adapters to displays can be run on captive power as opposed to needing a separate AC power source to run the device. If you compare this to any single multi-head graphics card setup or multiple graphics card solution that can consume more than 100 W, the power savings with the DisplayPort solution are significant.

As the need for higher resolution monitors grows and greater numbers of higher resolution monitors are needed for multi-monitor displays, the DisplayPort implementation can scale to be extensible with upcoming DisplayPort 1.2 enhancements. The key contributor to achieving this higher resolution support is the doubling of the bandwidth to 21.6 Gbps. This will allow higher resolution multi-monitor multi-stream video/audio data in a multi-display environment.

Lastly, with any new technology, there must be a smooth transition to support legacy displays. Because of the abundance of various translating and bridging solutions from DisplayPort, all legacy displays can still be effectively used with new DisplayPort-enabled solutions to support multi-monitor display solutions. For example, a hub with the translating function built in can bridge the gap to support DisplayPort-enabled PCs from legacy monitors with DVI, HDMI or VGA.

Summary
DisplayPort’s killer app is the ability to support multi-displays more efficiently and cost effectively, without latency that has no display application limitations from a single digital output port. This unique and universal need has been unmet and unresolved until now. DisplayPort Technology enables this need to be fulfilled.

About the authors:
Ji Park is the vice president and general manager of the IDT Video and Display Operation. He holds his MBA degree from University of Dallas and a BSEE from University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at ji.park@idt.com

Henry Zeng is the Director of Application Engineering and Technical Marketing for the Video and Display Operations group at Integrated Device Technology. Mr. Zeng has more than 20 years of experience dealing with display, graphics control and video processors. He holds a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from Fudan University, China and a Master of Computer Science degree from Beijing University, China.

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