DisplayPort

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There’s a new video standard coming. It’s called DisplayPort.

There’s been a few comments elsewhere about some of the features on this, most notably its ability to accommodate DRM standards, but there is a more fundamental change which hasn’t gotten attention.

From the article linked above:

“Picture quality is improved with DisplayPort, VESA member Bill Lempesis said, because the specification allows for higher bandwidth and refreshes images instead of reloading them, which makes for better performance on the screen.”

Current PC video technology works by drawing an entire new picture seventy, eighty, whatever times a second. In many situations (i.e., the video image changes little or not at all), this is a tremendous waste of video resources.

If video worked on the principle of telling the pixels “stay the way you are until we tell you otherwise” rather than having to tell pixels “be blue” close to a hundred times a second, this would (usually) free up GPUs to do other, more constructive things.

What a video card would need to do is figure out what pixels needed to be changed between set intervals, then send out commands to change those pixels.

This certainly could change the parameters of “FPS” dramatically, since entire “frames” will no longer be sent.

The issue is not whether or not it will make video better. Of course it will. The issue is whether or not current video cards and/or monitors could handle this different approach.

As one critic quoted in the article put it, “With DisplayPort, there are going to be problems of adapting to legacy connections.” He goes on to point out that DisplayPort “would involve redesigning monitors, as well as the computers they may be plugged into.”

This is not too encouraging for those thinking about buying video cards and monitors who want them to last a while.

The companies responsible for drafting this new standard are: ATI Technologies, Dell, Genesis Microchip, Hewlett-Packard, Molex Incorporated, Nvidia, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Tyco Electronics. They recently sent their draft proposal over to VESA for approval.

Unfortunately, the draft proposal isn’t publicly available yet, so we can’t determine for ourselves how compatible or incompatible this new standard would be with current equipment.

I greatly doubt this will be a situation in which current equipment will fail to work; there will be hell to pay is there isn’t some backward compatibility.

However, if you’re thinking about laying out a bunch for a video card thinking it will last you two-three years, or a bunch more for a monitor thinking it will last you five or more, well, this ought to make you think twice.

Ed

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