Each and every time there’s an increase in resolution we end up hearing the same arguments about why we should steer clear. Over time this arguments fall silent as reluctant acceptance by ‘traditionalists’ takes place. There may well be some merit, however, in the discussion around whether we really need 16K. Or is there? But that question will be thrown to the fore with the introduction of DisplayPort 2.0 by the Video Electronics Standards Association.
The new standard has full compatibility with the new USB4 specification, as well as providing for the full features of DisplayPort 2.0 via a USB Type-C connector. What does this mean in practice?
Well for starters it means the cable is capable of piping through up to 80 Gigabits per second of video data using all four high-speed lanes, or up to 40 Gbps with simultaneous USB data delivery.
Where does 16K come into this?
The massive data increase, quite obviously, gives benefits across the board. Part of the development of the DisplayPort 2.0 standard was to take into considering what the future performance of displays might be, including moving beyond 8K. Additionally the ability to display HDR at higher resolutions and higher refresh rates feature prominently in the new standard.
This is good news for people who use VR headsets or augmented reality. The standard features the 128b/132b channel coding, shared with USB4 meaning it can deliver 77.37 Gbps across four lanes. Display wise it means that you could drive an 8K display (7680×4320) with a 60Hz refresh rate and 30-bit per pixel 4:4:4 HDR colour resolution and precision uncompressed. That in itself is pretty impressive on its own. However it also means that with compression a 16K display (15360×8460) could be driven with the same colour precision and bit depth.
Do we need 16K?
That’s actually the wrong question to ask. Nobody actually needs a new resolution. The question to ask if it it is better to have 16K? Empirically, having higher resolution is always better, even if you have no intention of outputting the final video at that size.
A few years back Michael Cioni, who was senior VP of Innovation at Panavision at the time, along with other industry luminaries, posited the notion, backed up by solid science, that 16K was the perfect resolution.
Ultra high resolutions like 16K are not about having more detail, but, ironically they are about more ‘smoothness’. Whether that’s enough advantage to give tangibly more ‘smoothness’ than 8K is another matter.
16K also faces another hurdle, much more of an obstacle than general acceptance, and that’s physics. The technology to display 16K will arrive pretty quickly. But the technology to capture it will be much slower to arrive. Already cramming 8K with of photo sites onto even a full-frame sensor is pushing things.
In order to capture that data at, say 60fps while managing to capture enough light and minimal noise is going to be a tough ask of sensor manufacturers. You could increase the sensor size, but then you’d end up with a corresponding size and weight increase in lenses.
But with 8K video now being possible on a tiny smartphone chip, maybe we are underestimating manufacturers abilities to extract performance from what initially seems like a physically impossible scenario!
For a more detailed overview of the new standard, head on over to AnandTech for a deep dive.