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A Guide To DisplayPort Connectivity Solutions

A Guide To DisplayPort Connectivity Solutions

DisplayPort is a digital display interface standard developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). It’s specifically designed for the transfer of video, audio, and data between a source and sink. DisplayPort has replaced LVDS on essentially all computers because of its rich feature set and its compatibility with HDMI and HDCP technologies. DisplayPort was included in about 1-in-20 of the commercial desktop and 1-in-50 laptops as of 2009. Today, DisplayPort is found on more than 95% of all tablet, laptop, desktop and workstation computers. Where we used to see a VGA connector, today we see DisplayPort.

Although DisplayPort has much of the same functionality as HDMI, it is a complementary connection. In other words, both DisplayPort and HDMI have plenty of room to coexist in the A/V ecosystem. DisplayPort can emit an HDMI signal through the use of an adapter (see DP++ below), and it can support digital video up to UltraHD (4K) resolution. Like HMDI, DisplayPort supports fully embedded digital audio for surround sound applications and is fully compliant with HDCP content protection. An even more important feature is the ability of DisplayPort to support multi-monitor MST (multi-stream transport) where a single output on the computer can deliver as many as four discrete video feeds.

There are a few variations of DisplayPort in use today. Of primary interest is the difference between DisplayPort 1.1 and DisplayPort 1.2, also known as “dual mode” DisplayPort. There are no differences in the cable and connector topology per se, but there is one important difference in performance. DisplayPort dual mode (DP++) has the ability to leverage the power of the host computer to output a signal in a true HDMI format. That means that devices that support DP++, and are so marked, can use a cable with a DP connector on one end, and an HDMI connector on the other. DisplayPort 1.1 devices require an active device to make this conversion.

The newest version of DisplayPort is DP1.3. It was released in 2014 and will become more important as devices move from high definition to ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K performance levels. At this point in time the distinction isn’t critical in selecting desktop connectivity solutions, but rest assured we’ll be covering DP1.3 in depth when the time comes.

For a number of technical reasons, DisplayPort connectivity is limited to about 10-meters maximum run length. Beyond that, the signal must be converted to another medium for successful connection such as using adapter dongles and category cables or modems and fiber cables. Let’s take a closer look at some of the DisplayPort solutions available for your installation.

DisplayPort Cables

Stock DisplayPort cables come in lengths from 3-feet to 35-feet. There is no difference between DP1.1 and 1.2 cables and all the cables listed can be used for either application.

DisplayPort M/M cables in lengths of 3 (54400), 6 (54401) and 10-feet (54402) all feature 4K UltraHD capability and leverage 32 AWG conductors for a flexible, high-performance link. To better match your desktop environment, these cables are also available in white (54410, 54411, 54412)

15-foot DisplayPort M/M interconnects (54403) feature 30 AWG construction and support up to 1920 x 1080 performance. 25 and 35-foot interconnects (54404, 54405) feature 28 AWG construction and support up to 1920 x 1080 performance. 15 to 35-foot cables are only available in black.

Although it looks quite different, Mini-DisplayPort is just a different form factor and has identical properties to full sized M/M DisplayPort links. Mini-DisplayPort is often used on laptop and tablet computers because of its smaller size and profile. Adapters are available for Mini-DisplayPort to full sized DisplayPort in both black (54313) and white (54314). Cables with Mini-DisplayPort on one end and full sized DisplayPort on the other are also available in 3, 6 and 10-foot lengths in both black or white (54300-302, 54297-299). Finally, cables that are Mini-DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort are available in white in lengths of 3, 6 and 10-feet (54410-412)

DisplayPort Extenders

When the project requires links greater than 35-feet, active solutions must be employed. HDBaseT is an IEEE standard technology that can extend digital video signals up to 328-feet (100 meters) by using transmit and receive electronics with a category cable as the link in between. This also give you the option of running DisplayPort in a plenum environment by using CMP or FT6 rated Cat6 or Cat5e. For best results, use solid-core category cable for all digital AV applications.

Depending on the project, you can select from a DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort configuration (29303) or a DisplayPort-to-HDMI configuration (29304). Performance is identical and this technology is independent of DisplayPort dual mode capability, so it works with any DisplayPort device.

DisplayPort Dongles and Converters

Dongles that convert DisplayPort to analog VGA, digital DVI-D, HDMI and even Ethernet are all readily available, often in a choice of black or white to match your desktop environment. The Ethernet dongle is also sold as part of a special package of three (one each VGA, HDMI, Ethernet) for Microsoft’s powerful Surface tablet, but will work with any device using advanced DisplayPort technology.