A new DisplayPort 2.1 specification has been released—and, if the authors are doing their job right, your devices may already have been upgraded.
Essentially, DisplayPort 2.1 is a bit like Thunderbolt 4—instead of a fundamental change or upgrade to the specification, the “new” specification is simply a less permissive version of the DisplayPort 2.0 specification. Both DisplayPort 2.0 and 2.1 serve as an alternative to HDMI, the other popular video interface on PCs.
The only real change is that the more restrictive DisplayPort 2.1 specification more tightly aligns with both USB-C and USB4, which will enable manufacturers to design a common physical-layer chip, or PHY, that will combine DisplayPort and USB4. DisplayPort 2.1 adds a new DisplayPort bandwidth management feature to enable DisplayPort tunneling to coexist with other I/O data traffic more efficiently over the USB4 link. Finally, DisplayPort 2.1 mandates support for Display Stream Compression, which, as the name implies, can allow the data passing over the cable to be compressed without visual artifacts.
The effect on your hardware will likely be surprisingly minimal. “All previously certified DisplayPort 2.0 products including UHBR (Ultra-high Bit Rate) capable products—whether GPUs, docking station chips, monitor scalar chips, PHY repeater chips such as re-timers, or DP40/DP80 cables (including both passive and active, and using full-size DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort or USB Type-C connectors)—have already been certified to the stricter DisplayPort 2.1 spec,” DisplayPort author the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) said in a press release.
Essentially, that means that if you already own a GPU with a DisplayPort 2.0 output, or a Thunderbolt dock that can accommodate DP 2.0 over the USB-C cable—well, now you own DisplayPort 2.1 hardware instead. VESA certainly seems to imply that it’s already done the ground work to ensure that nothing slips outside the bounds of the specification.
That should mean that DP 2.1 is a “free” upgrade: something that improves your PC, without the need to buy or configure anything. Who doesn’t like that?