14 January 2014, Comments: 0

 January 2014         Ian Chiu

USB video has come a long way since its inception and DisplayLink has always been at the forefront of this category. With USB 3.0 finally overcoming the bandwidth bottleneck and power limitations, DisplayLink went on to add dual-head HD (2k) outputs; better lossless video compression; bus-powered capability for mobile monitors; and last but not least, HDCP 2.0 compatibility for protected content playback.

With all these incremental improvements, it’s only natural DisplayLink would get onto the 4k UHD bandwagon and its new DL-5500 is the answer. DisplayLink’s latest USB 3.0 video silicon is said to be capable of handling resolutions of up to 3840×2160 (or 8.3 megapixels) – 4 times that of 1080p – over a single USB 3.0 connection to HDMI 1.4. If you connect to a DisplayPort, resolution can be pushed even further to 4096×3072. In contrast, previous top-of-line chipset allows for a maximum resolution of 2560×1600 (16:10). It’s no small feat to compress 4k video and send it in real-time. That will likely have quite an impact on the CPU and GPU, the latter of which DisplayLink’s driver offloads to for heavy lifting like 3D rendering.

Even more impressive is that the same DL-5500 will also work on USB 2.0, thanks to the proven dynamic compression engine that squeeze video data down enough to still fit inside the much narrower bus limitations. But the fact is that you may have to tolerate frame drops more than you would like. As of this writing, there’s no product announced yet that brings the DL-5500 to retail market but we see how this will fit nicely together with USB Power Delivery and USB 3.1 specs.