DisplayLink, a company well established in the market of USB peripherals, has shown off a device at IDF that is capable of sending 4K 'Ultra HD' (3840 x 2160) video through both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. The feat is achieved through dynamic data compression on a chip developed by DisplayLink; a chip which is also capable of driving multiple 4K displays and providing other connectivity features.
Engadget saw the device in action, and claimed that 4K video sent through USB 3.0 is perfectly smooth. USB 2.0, with considerably lower bandwidth, is less perfect, with the device dropping frames occasionally, although Engadget still calls it "quite watchable".
Sending 4K video through USB 3.0 is no easy feat. Transmitting content with such a high resolution requires at least HDMI 1.4, which provides a maximum bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps: more than twice that of USB 3.0's throughput (5 Gbps). Even more impressive is how DisplayLink managed to get 4K compressed down to under 480 Mbit/s - the maximum throughput provided by USB 2.0 - without making the content completely unwatchable.
DisplayLink's new chip is also capable of sending 4K and 1080p content over wireless networks, with 1080p functioning over Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 4K over 802.11ad. The company is hoping the chip can be used to push 4K over the more widely available 802.11ac standard, but currently that's still in the works.
With the new devices, DisplayLink is aiming to provide 4K video output to systems that don't have native 4K output. They aren't saying when devices implementing the technology will be available, but hopefully it won't be too far away.
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