K monitors are only barely beginning to see adoption but VESA is forging ahead with DisplayPort version 1.3, which will offer up to 32.4Gbps of single-link bandwidth. Even after allowing for bandwidth overhead, the new standard will deliver about 25.92Gbps, or nearly double HDMI 2.0’s best available bandwidth. This will be more than enough for 4K @ 60 fps, and it will also support 5K displays as well.
Here’s a quick rundown of DisplayPort 1.3’s capabilities:
Dual 4K monitors on a single DP 1.3 cable
One 8K monitor
One 4K monitor @ 60 fps with simultaneous support for full-speed USB 3.0
Theoretically, DisplayPort also offers better support for high color applications at high resolutions. This would be a non-standard operating mode, and getting a Windows desktop into 10-bit color mode or higher requires specialized video cards and software support — but HDMI 2.0 tops out at 48 bits per pixel at 4096×2160 @ 60 fps. This is the sort of feature that would only matter for video editing professionals, but could be of interest to that group.
DisplayPort 1.3 will continue to support the variable refresh rate concept AMD refers to as FreeSync, but no word on when we’ll see that feature debuting in AMD GPUs. The company announced with the Tonga launch that not all Radeon cards would be FreeSync-capable when the feature launches.
Finally, VESA is also pushing the idea of DisplayPort 1.3 as a solution for 5K video , despite the fact that 5K is anything but standardized right now.
When will GPUs support it?
We don’t expect to see DP 1.3 support baked in to any GPUs in the near future. HDMI 2.0 has been out for over a year, and neither AMD or Nvidia supports it yet — though that could change in the very near future. Even so, we expect some lag — AMD has historically been more aggressive than Nvidia with DisplayPort, but has yet to announce plans for DP 1.3 — the company’s just-launched Tonga GPU sticks with DP 1.2.
AMD might refresh its products more quickly depending on what Apple intends to do with the Mac Pro — that system relies heavily on Thunderbolt for connectivity, and DisplayPort 1.3 offers more options for transferring high speed data across the Thunderbolt bus. It’s not impossible that GCN 2.0 could add DisplayPort 1.3 early in the cycle — but without any monitors to support the standard and no word on when GCN 2.0 might actually ship, don’t expect near-term support.