Wednesday March 2, 2016 7:58 am PST by Eric Slivka
The Video Electronics Standards Association yesterday formally announced its new DisplayPort 1.4 standard, setting the stage for improved video quality and color for external display connections over both DisplayPort and USB-C connectors.
Rather than an increase in actual bandwidth, the improvements in DisplayPort 1.4 come due to improved compression, taking advantage of VESA's new Display Stream Compression 1.2 standard to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video up to either 8K resolution at 60 Hz or 4K resolution at 120 Hz.
DSC version 1.2 transport enables up to 3:1 compression ratio and has been deemed, through VESA membership testing, to be visually lossless. Together with other new capabilities, this makes the latest version of DP ideally suited for implementation in high-end electronic products demanding premier sound and image quality.
In addition to video-related improvements, DisplayPort 1.4 also expands audio capabilities with support for 32 channels, 1536kHz sample rates, and broader support for "all known" audio formats.
The approval of DisplayPort 1.4 comes even though consumers are still awaiting the arrival of devices supporting the previous DisplayPort 1.3 standard. Intel had been expected to support DisplayPort 1.3 in its current Skylake generation of chips, but the company instead opted to offer dual DisplayPort 1.2 support. As we detailed earlier this year, the lack of DisplayPort 1.3 support in Skylake could lead Apple to hold off on releasing a new 5K Thunderbolt Display until next year when chips supporting the standard become available.
Intel hasn't laid out its DisplayPort support plans beyond Skylake, so it's unknown whether the company will first move to DisplayPort 1.3 or if it can jump straight to the new DisplayPort 1.4 standard. Either way, we're unlikely to see Macs supporting DisplayPort 1.4 until 2017 at the earliest.
Friday January 15, 2016 1:43 pm PST by Joe Rossignol
It is approaching five years since Apple began shipping the Thunderbolt Display in September 2011, leading many to wonder when the monitor will receive a long-anticipated update, if ever.
Apple could have refreshed the Thunderbolt Display with USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2 and a tapered iMac-style design as early as 2013, but it has chosen not to do that. The company continues to sell the 2011 27" model with USB 2.0 and first-generation Thunderbolt ports for $999.
So, what has been the holdup? The answer likely lies in supply chain considerations and connectivity.
4K Thunderbolt Display
Many have been long hoping that Apple would release a 4K Thunderbolt Display, considering that the latest Macs, and most models refreshed since late 2013, can be used with at least one 4K display.
But, typically, standalone Apple displays have shared the same screens as iMacs. Since Apple skipped over a 4K 27" iMac, Apple would have to source a separate screen to release a 4K Thunderbolt Display, and the product may be too niche for that to be worthwhile.
Meanwhile, with Thunderbolt 3 rolling out this year, it seems unlikely that Apple will bother with a refreshed non-4K Thunderbolt Display in the interim. So, as time goes on, the more likely possibility is that Apple will eventually release a much improved 5K Thunderbolt Display.
5K Thunderbolt Display
5K displays have an incredible 14.7 million pixels, resulting in sharper and crisper images, but they remain expensive. 5K models from Dell and HP retail for between $1,649 and $1,999, while Apple's all-in-one 5K iMac starts at $1,799, but cannot be used in target display mode.
Apple already sells a 27" Retina 5K iMac, and its screen could be the basis for a corresponding 5K Thunderbolt Display. The display could share the same 5,120×2,880 resolution, USB Type-C ports for connecting Thunderbolt 3 peripherals and possibly an ultra-thin design like the newest iMacs. But no current Macs could drive such a 5K display over a single cable.
Apple won't release the first Macs with Intel's new Skylake chips and Thunderbolt 3 support until later in 2016, and only those models will be able to drive a 5K display at 60Hz over one cable. While that makes a 5K Thunderbolt Display a possibility in 2016, Apple has good reason to wait until at least 2017.
Intel's Skylake processors for Mac notebooks, launching in early 2016, and Kaby Lake processors, expected to launch in the first half of 2017, will not be able to drive a 5K Thunderbolt Display over Single-Stream Transport (SST). The underlying issue is that both processor lineups lack support for DisplayPort 1.3.
Instead, the display would sync two channels over Multi-Stream Transport (MST), which can cause some performance issues. That means Apple may wait until at least Cannon Lake chipset (which promise SST 5K support) in the second half of 2017, before releasing a 5K Thunderbolt Display.
Because external displays are a relatively small market for Apple, it's possible Apple never plans to introduce an updated Thunderbolt Display. If a new model is in the company's plans, Apple will likely wait to introduce a 5K display until 2017 when most Macs can easily support it in order to maximize supply chain efficiency.
Monday April 13, 2015 8:03 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
With the release of OS X 10.10.3 last Wednesday, Apple has expanded support for high-resolution 4K and even 5K external displays (via 9to5Mac). Most notably, OS X 10.10.3 enables the Retina 5K iMac and 2013 Mac Pro to drive Dell's UP2715K 27-inch 5K display released late last year. The display requires more bandwidth than is currently supported over a current single DisplayPort/Thunderbolt cable, so it uses a dual-cable solution taking up two ports on the user's machine.
This bandwidth issue for the current DisplayPort standard has been seen as a major roadblock keeping Apple from releasing a standalone 5K Thunderbolt Display. With the Retina iMac, Apple has been able to build custom internal components to drive the massive display, but for external displays, a dual-cable solution such as that used by Dell has been considered by many to be "un-Apple like."
As a result, Apple has been widely expected to wait until the release of Intel's Skylake platform with DisplayPort 1.3 support later this year before releasing an external 5K Thunderbolt Display that will function over a single cable. Whether the inclusion of support for Dell's dual-cable solution in OS X 10.10.3 is a sign Apple may be willing to adopt that arrangement for its own display and perhaps release it earlier is, however, unclear.
Beyond 5K displays, OS X 10.10.3 has also expanded support for 4K displays to include "most single-stream 4K (3840x2160) displays" at 60 Hz, expanding beyond the previous support of only Multi-Stream Transport displays introduced in late updates to Mavericks. The new 4K display support will function with most of the Mac line, from the 27-inch iMac to the brand-new Retina MacBook. However, only the Mac Pro and iMac will support full 4096x2160 resolution at 60Hz.
With OS X Yosemite v10.10.3, most single-stream 4K (3840x2160) displays are supported at 60Hz operation on the following Mac computers:
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013)
- iMac (27-inch, Late 2013 and later)
- Mac mini (Late 2014)
- MacBook Air (Early 2015)
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
As for the new 12-inch MacBook, the laptop will be able to support displays and rates of 3840x2160 at a 30 Hz refresh rate and 4096x2160 at a 24 Hz refresh rate. MacBook users wanting to use such a display will, of course, need to use Apple's USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter to do so.
Friday October 17, 2014 1:51 pm PDT by Eric Slivka
At Apple's introduction of the new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, Phil Schiller noted that the machine's $2499 starting price compares favorably with some of the higher-end 4K displays on the market today for closer to $3000, leading some to wonder whether it would be feasible to use the iMac as an external display for something like a Mac Pro.
For a number of years, iMacs have supported a feature known as target display mode, which allows them to serve as external displays for other computers, but as pointed out by TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino yesterday, the new Retina 5K iMac does not support this mode.
The probable reason for this is also likely the reason why Apple did not announce a standalone Retina Thunderbolt Display yesterday: bandwidth limitations. The current DisplayPort 1.2 specification used over Thunderbolt 2 on Apple's latest Macs simply isn't capable of handling the bandwidth necessary for 5K video over a single cable.
As a result, no current Mac, including the Mac Pro and Retina MacBook Pro models that do support 4K displays, can currently drive a 5K external display. Technically, Apple could allow another Mac to output video at a lower resolution and have the Retina iMac scale the content up to fit its display, but this would not be ideal and Apple has apparently elected not to support it as an option.
As noted by Marco Arment, simple plug-and-play support for 5K external displays over a single cable will need the new DisplayPort 1.3 standard, but that won't be an option until Intel's Skylake platform, the successor to the upcoming Broadwell family, is launched.
Doing it right will require waiting until DisplayPort 1.3 in Thunderbolt 3 on Broadwell’s successor, Skylake, which isn’t supposed to come out for at least another year — and Intel is even worse at estimating ship dates than I am, so it’s likely to be longer. [...]
I’d estimate — granted, I’m wrong a lot — that Apple won’t ship a standalone 5K display until at least 2016, and it won’t work with any of today’s Macs, including the 2013 Mac Pro.
Arment points out that Dell's upcoming 5K display uses dual DisplayPort 1.2 cables for connectivity but that no current Macs appear to support the setup and even if they did performance would likely not be ideal.
Another potential product on the horizon is a Retina 21.5-inch iMac likely at 3840 x 2160 pixels, although it is unclear when Apple plans to launch such a machine. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts a second half of 2015 launch for the machine in a similar pattern to that seen with the MacBook Pro, where the larger 15-inch model received a Retina display option a number of months before the 13-inch model followed suit.
Monday September 29, 2014 6:44 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Following several recent reports on Apple's long-rumored ultra-thin 12-inch notebook, Jack March is now reporting that Apple is indeed working on a 27-inch "5K" Retina iMac with a resolution of 5120 x 2880. According to the report, which MacRumors has reason to believe is based on legitimate information, the machine could launch as soon as next month.
A source familiar with Apple’s plans tells me that Apple is indeed planning to launch a Retina iMac at their next press event, however the 27″ Model will be the only model that gets this feature. The source says the new 27″ iMac will use a 5120 x 2880 panel as leaked in the OSX Yosemite code a few months ago. This resolution is double the current resolution of the 27″ iMac which is 2560×1440.
This new 27-inch Retina iMac would continue to use Haswell processors, topping out at the 4.0 GHz Core i7-4790K, as Intel's next-generation Broadwell processors will not be ready until possibly the middle of next year. The report also claims Apple will be switching to AMD graphics for this new iMac, while the overall design and port configuration would remain the same as the current model.
The report's sources suggest the move to Retina will be limited to the larger 27-inch iMac at this time, with the 21.5-inch model continuing to use the current 1920 x 1080 display.
Rumors of a 27-inch Retina display or iMac from Apple have been circulating for some time, but have picked up steam in recent weeks with a specific claim of a 5K Apple display launching before the end of the year, as well as Dell's own announcement of such a display. With finalization of the DisplayPort 1.3 specification, connectivity will also become easier as that standard rolls out, allowing for single-cable uncompressed video at 5K resolutions.
Update 6:46 AM: 9to5Mac is hearing similar information about Retina iMacs being in "late testing stages" at Apple.
Update 9:00 AM: Re/code's John Paczkowski is also hearing similar word.
Update 10:22 AM: Paczkowski has now included a blurb on the topic in his latest column, quoting a source saying "expect a fall release."
Monday September 15, 2014 10:34 am PDT by Eric Slivka
With Dell having announced its upcoming 5120 x 2880 "5K" display that would be the equivalent of a Retina 27-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display and Apple rumored to be launching its own such display later this year, connectivity options for such displays have now taken a significant step forward with today's official release of the DisplayPort 1.3 specification by the Video Electronics Standards Association (via 9to5Mac).
The new standard offers a 50 percent increase in bandwidth to 32.4 Gbps, or 25.92 Gbps of uncompressed video data once overhead is accounted for.
The increased bandwidth enables higher resolution monitors, including recently announced 5K monitors (with pixel resolutions of 5120 x 2880) using a single DisplayPort cable, without the use of compression. It will also enable higher resolutions when driving multiple monitors through a single connection using DisplayPort’s Multi-Stream feature, such as the use of two 4K UHD monitors, each with a pixel resolution of 3840 x 2160, when using VESA Coordinated Video Timing.
Apple has been rumored for some time to be working on Retina iMacs and displays, but connectivity bottlenecks have been one of the factors slowing progress in that area.
The previous DisplayPort 1.2a standard offered enough bandwidth to support 4K displays without compression, but pushing resolutions to 5K has presented difficulties for connectivity. With the new DisplayPort 1.3 standard, which will presumably be built into future Thunderbolt implementations, computer manufacturers such as Apple will be able to fully support the new high-resolution displays set to hit the market in the coming months.
Friday September 12, 2014 3:10 am PDT by Richard Padilla
Apple may launch a new ultra-high definition 27-inch monitor later this year, according to LCD market research firm WitsView (via Digitimes). The firm claims that the display will boast a 5120 x 2880 resolution, which would be significantly higher than the 2560 x 1440 resolution found on the current Apple Thunderbolt Display.
However, it is unknown as to how exactly Apple would power such a high resolution display with the current DisplayPort 1.2 standard used in Thunderbolt 2. A number of Apple's computers including the Mac Pro (late 2013), 27-inch iMac (late 2013), and Retina MacBook Pro (late 2013 and mid 2014) are able to power 4K displays with one Thunderbolt port, but can only do so at designated refresh rates.
It is more likely that Apple would release a new monitor with a "Cinema 4K" resolution of 4096 x 2160, which is the maximum supported resolution by the DisplayPort 1.2 standard. Such a monitor would also be able to take advantage of the 20 Gbps data transfer rate of Thunderbolt 2 to stabilize performance at a high resolution.
An 27-inch 5K ultra high-definition monitor from Apple would also come after Dell's 5K display, which was announced last month and boast a 5120 x 2880 resolution at 218 pixels per inch. It is also unknown as to what technology Dell with use to power the monitor, although AnandTech speculates that the company may use Multi-Stream Transport (MST) to stitch together two 2560 x 2880 panels in order to provide 5120 pixels horizontally.
Apple's Thunderbolt Display debuted nearly three years ago, although it is hard to predict when the company will unveil a new monitor based the erratic upgrade cycle of past displays. In addition to a higher-resolution screen, a new Apple display would also likely feature an iMac-like design and USB 3.0.
Friday September 5, 2014 8:04 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
Dell yesterday unveiled its new $2500 27-inch 5K monitor (UP2715K) that boasts an impressive 5120 x 2880 resolution at 218 pixels per inch. This ultra-high resolution places the monitor on par with Apple's Retina MacBook Pro, which has a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch, and would be the equivalent of a Retina 27-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display.
Dell does not detail the technology powering the monitor, but AnandTechbelieves the company is using Multi-Stream Transport (MST) to stitch together two 2560 x 2880 panels in order to provide 5120 pixels horizontally. Dell demoed the monitor to Maximum PC using a 5K H.265 video streamed from a workstation-class NVIDIA Quadro K5000 video card.
As outlined in our display roundup, customers have been looking toward a higher-resolution large display from Apple for some time, whether it be a true Retina version of the existing display or a somewhat lower resolution 4K display, particularly since Apple has been touting the 4K capabilities of the new Mac Pro. Rumors of Retina iMacs date back to 2012, but the machines have yet to appear, likely due to both cost and technological constraints.
With Dell listing its display at $2500, it is clear pricing remains a challenge for Apple's ambitions to launch Retina iMacs and standalone displays. Standalone displays may stand a better chance, as Apple has historically been willing to develop expensive large-screen displays priced in the thousands of dollars for its pro-level customers. An iMac almost certainly priced well north of $3000 could be a difficult proposition, however, so Apple may yet need more time for prices to come down before such a machine becomes commercially feasible.
Besides its impressive resolution, Dell's monitor ships with Dell's PremierColor technology and an edge-to-edge glass that includes both anti-smudge and anti-reflective properties. Also included in the display is an integrated media reader, six USB ports and 16W Harmon Kardon speakers. Video out support includes dual DisplayPort 1.2 ports for 5K video and a miniDisplayPort for 4K operation.
Dell's UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K monitor will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.
Wednesday July 23, 2014 10:47 am PDT by Juli Clover
Following an earlier report on the launch of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, 9to5Mac has released a second report with details on OS X Yosemite and Apple's fall Mac plans. As has been previously mentioned, OS X Yosemite will launch in October, following iOS 8's September release alongside the iPhone 6.
The final Yosemite Developer Preview is expected to be seeded to developers on September 29, with a final golden master build coming around October 10, which suggests a late-October public launch date for Yosemite.
October will also see the potential introduction of the iWatch, as has been widely rumored, and Apple may also be planning to unveil several new products designed to promote Yosemite, including a smaller 12-inch MacBook with a high-resolution display and a new desktop computer, which may be an iMac or a standalone monitor with a 4K resolution screen.
Along with providing a few details on the desktop Retina machine, 9to5Mac's report echoes several details on the 12-inch MacBook previously shared by rumor sites, suggesting it will have a Retina display and a "thinner and slightly lighter aluminum body."
Apple believes that this new Retina MacBook will be a significant step forward in the laptop industry, and it is currently unclear if Apple will label this machine as a smaller MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Air, or as an entirely new line.
While it is possible Apple will market the aforementioned 4K desktop as a "Retina" machine, the technology for true pixel-doubling of the current 27-inch iMac and Thunderbolt Display's 2560 x 1440 resolution is not ready for market.
9to5Mac's sources indicate the 12-inch Retina MacBook and the iMac are on pace to ship in late in the third quarter or in the fourth quarter, but could be pushed back to early 2015, which is in line with recent rumors about the 12-inch Retina MacBook. A report has suggested the notebook's launch will be pushed back due to continued Broadwell delays.
Rumors have also long focused on a possible Retina iMac and/or a 4K display, and back in June, hints of a Retina iMac were found in the OS X Yosemite beta. Less has been said about a potential 4K display in recent months, but an update to Apple's Thunderbolt Display is long overdue.
Along with new Macs, Yosemite's introduction may also include updates to both iMovie and Final Cut Pro to improve support for video captured with 4K cameras.
Thursday March 6, 2014 9:55 pm PST by Richard Padilla
Just released earlier tonight, Apple's OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 beta appears to have built-in support that enables all compatible 4K displays to be set at a "Retina" resolution, with an option for 60Hz output. The compatibility was first discovered by Twitter user @KhaosT, and was tested with both the Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro and redesigned Mac Pro in conjunction with Dell's UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD Monitor.
To this point, OS X compatibility with 4K displays has been known to be somewhat erratic, as AnandTech revealed in December that Sharp's 32'' 4K display supported only one scaled resolution at 2560 x 1440. Furthermore, it was discovered that Apple had chosen to render text, menu and UI elements in the same manner as the Retina MacBook Pro, resulting in small and difficult to read on-screen elements on a 4K display. Various other 4K monitors were also found to be not properly supported.
Native support for 4K displays could also indicate that Apple is gearing up to release a higher-resolution Thunderbolt Display, as Apple last refreshed the monitor over two years ago. A number of other companies also introduced more affordable 4K displays at CES 2014 in January, with options from the likes of Lenovo, Asus, Seiki, and LG expected to hit the market throughout this year.
Wednesday January 8, 2014 6:27 am PST by Eric Slivka
Last month, Dell announced several new "4K" displays for its lineup, including a teaser for an upcoming 28-inch model to be priced at "under $1000". While the pricing range was considered a breakthrough at the time, several other display manufacturers announced their own offerings at CES this week with pricing in the $800 range.
But as highlighted by Forbes, Dell has now revealed that its display will be launching on January 23 with an even lower price of $699.
The P2815Q will have a full 3840 x 2160 4K resolution and launch globally on January 23. Dell hasn’t yet discussed things like refresh rate or range of inputs (I’m sure DisplayPort is a given), but they do promise the same “screen performance” as the new UltraSharp 32 and UltraSharp 24 Ultra HD monitors. That’s certainly encouraging since their UltraSharp line is normally a cut above when it comes to professional displays.
The monitor will even include the ability to pivot to portrait mode as well as a range of adjustable viewing heights and angles. They’ll be selling accessories too, like a stereo sound bar and monitor arm.
Plunging prices for 4K/Ultra HD displays come just as Apple has launched its new Mac Pro, with its dual graphics cards capable of supporting up to three such displays simultaneously. The latest version of Apple's Retina MacBook Pro is also capable of driving a 4K display, taking advantage of the new Thunderbolt 2 standard to handle the throughput.
Many had hoped that Apple would release its own 4K/Ultra HD display alongside the Mac Pro, but the company did not do so, instead offering Mac Pro and MacBook Pro customers the option of adding on a $3600 32-inch Sharp Ultra HD display.
Tuesday January 7, 2014 11:49 am PST by Jordan Golson
A number of companies introduced new 4K display options at CES this week, and, though some 4K monitors have seen early teething pains with the new Mac Pro, the new displays are expected to be compatible with Apple's new pro machine.
4K displays saw significant price drops in 2013 with a number of models introduced in recent months but these new options are, for the most part, significantly cheaper than currently available 4K monitors.
Lenovo debuted its ThinkVision Pro2840m, a 28" 4K display aimed at professionals with a 3840x2160 resolution. The monitor should be available in April for $800.
Asus also has a 3840x2160 display available, a 28-inch panel called the PB287Q, priced at $800. It will be available in the second quarter of 2014.
Finally, Seiki confirmed to MacRumors that it will announce a new 28" 4K display tomorrow, likely a budget-option as the company currently has a 39-inch 4K television available for just $500, significantly cheaper than similar alternatives.
LG's new ultra-widescreen non-4K displays
LG previously announced a 4K display, the 31-inch 31MU95, that is wider than most other options using a 19:10 ratio widescreen panel at 4096x2160, whereas the most other 4K displays use a 16:9 ratio. LG will also offer 34-inch and 29-inch options with much wider 21:9 screens at lower, non-4K resolutions. Those panels should be announced later this week at CES.
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