The next generation of USB connectors might extinguish the need for dedicated display ports. The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) recently announced that DisplayPort technology will allow the upcoming Type-C USB connectors to relay audio and video signals, with the potential to drive monitor resolutions of up to 5K.
drive monitor resolutions of up to 5K
This is accomplished through the Alternate Mode extension detailed in the USB Power Delivery 2.0 specification, which permits non-USB signals to be sent over the connector. The DisplayPort Alt Mode will be able to use one, two, or four of the Type-C's USB SuperSpeed lanes to transmit DisplayPort signals, while still allowing data and power to be transferred. AnandTech writes this creates room for devices that can use this functionality in "a fashion similar to ThunderBolt" but with "the closer co-operation of the USB-IF and the superior Type-C physical layer." Coupled with its ability to transfer high-wattage power, the Type-C could potentially become a true single cable solution.
According to a press release from VESA, it will even be possible for devices supporting DisplayPort Alt Mode to drive a HDMI, DVI or VGA display through the use of appropriate adaptors. The feature could also prove advantageous for space-starved laptops and tablets that could eschew dedicated video ports for the new multipurpose USB. Unlike Apple's Lightning connectors, however, the new connectors aren't on the market just yet, but production for the reversible USB connectors looks to be imminent with the completion of the Type-C specification last month.