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Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 04:50 pm PT (07:50 pm ET)

Apple's mini connector set to be part of DisplayPort standard

After taking a gamble on the acceptance of Mini DisplayPort as a connection for computer screens, Apple is about to be rewarded as its technology is now expected to become part of an industry-wide format that also includes extremely high resolutions and multiple displays on a single link.

The Video Electronics Standards Association, or VESA, said last week as CES began that DisplayPort 1.2 should include Mini DisplayPort as part of the DisplayPort 1.2 specification.

Before this, Apple has had to license its technology itself and made the standard free as an incentive for rapid adoption from vendors constrained by the regular DisplayPort connector.

It's not known whether the officially approved Mini DisplayPort will involve the full range of features from 1.2, but it will let any company building a computer or graphics card adopt the port with the blessing of the standards group and know that it will work with other 1.2-supporting hardware.

In the meantime, those who use at least the full-size standard will have options that previously haven't existed in computer displays without special tricks. By offering twice as much bandwidth between the graphics hardware and the display, 1.2 will up the maximum resolution for a single computer display from the 2560x1600 found in the 30-inch Cinema Display and most other large monitors to a much larger 3840x2160, even with 30-bit depth that allows one billion colors.

Mini DisplayPort vs DVI

Mini DisplayPort versus DVI; regular DisplayPort is significantly larger than Apple's offering.


Depending on the color and frame rate, the DisplayPort refresh will also permit two 2560x1600 displays to run from just a single connection or as many as four 1920x1200 displays; a sufficiently fast video chipset could drive multiple views from one port as a result.

Expanding further still, the standard enables a single display to run at a much faster 120Hz frame rate or else to create a stereoscopic 3D effect, usually viewable through special glasses.

Whether Apple embraces these aspects or not, its actual implementation will take some time: VESA doesn't publish its final DisplayPort 1.2 specifications until the middle of this year and thus makes it the earliest practical time that third parties can start making their own compatible hardware, even if Mini DisplayPort by itself is available early and should be present on all future Macs.