Retina Displays: Doing the Bandwidth Math **Updated**

The Retina Push


Apple's Retina displays have been a real step forward in the laptop market, as they were in the phone and tablet market. Not only is the push for pixel-dense displays a good thing for Apple products, but also for the industry that will try to catch up. The Chromebook Pixel has been released, and I am certain that Samsung will not be far behind in the coming months. The MBA seems to be fitted for a Retina update as well. But one thing will be for sure, all of these displays will be headed for laptop displays, and not desktop monitors. Where are the desktop retina displays?

Hi-DPI for the DesktopBigpicture_2x_medium

My hope is for the Retina push to extend to desktop monitors, hopefully with a 5120x2880 retina cinema display. After using a Retina Macbook Pro, I have a hard time going to use my 1080p external monitor, or any other display for that matter. In addition, a display like that would make a great pair with a new Mac Pro. That dynamic duo along with some updates to Final Cut, could regain some ground for Apple in the creative market. Additionally, a Mac Pro, or a high end iMac would be required for the graphics needed to run the display smoothly.

Why Has It Not Happened Yet?


One word: Bandwidth.

Current Thunderbolt Bandwith: 10Gb/s

Required Retina Bandwidth: 5120*2880*24*60 = 21.2 GB/s :(

As you can see, a 5120x2880 display requires a massive bandwidth boost from Thunderbolt 1.0. In order to create a display like such Apple can:

  • Sacrifice on the resolution, 60FPS, or 24 bit color
  • Thunderbolt 2.0 revision with more bandwidth
  • New proprietary connector (not likely)

Out of all the options, the first and second seem to be the most likely. However, Apple could surprise us with anything. I am just drooling over the thought of that many pixels at my disposal! Is anyone else looking forward to a desktop Retina display? Comments on the bandwidth math/errors? Does anyone have any info on the next revision of Thunderbolt. Do you think a new Mac Pro will coincide with the display?


Thunderbolt 2 is official and more info is available here. The best part is that it now supports DP 1.2, which has an official bandwidth of, wait for it, 21.6 GB/s. That is just enough for a 5120x2880 display. The timing is way too good along with the rumors to be coincidental! A retina desktop display is imminent. The question is when!