A few years ago, Apple switched to Thunderbolt 3 ports on its Macs, including iMacs, Mac Minis, and MacBooks. The do-it-all port developed by Intel features high data bandwidth of up to 40Gbps and has the reversible USB Type-C connector. For future Macs, Apple could upgrade to USB 4.0 ports, which could support monitors with resolutions as high as 8K and 16K.
Last year, USB-IF released the specifications for USB 4.0, which will succeed the USB 3.x standard. It is a convergence of Thunderbolt 3 and USB technologies, and it will support up to 40Gbps data bandwidth. It also supports data transfer, video output, audio output, and charging. Now, VESA has announced a new DisplayPort standard that allows devices to support 8K and 16K displays, and this technology would most probably be used in future Macs.
VESA is a technical standards association that governs the development of display technologies such as DisplayPort and DisplayHDR. Earlier today, the governing body released an updated DisplayPort Alt Mode 2.0 standard for devices that are equipped with USB 4.0 ports. This new standard allows compatible devices such as laptops and computers to support 8K and 16K displays, be it TVs or monitors. Needless to say, it would require a USB Type-C connector.
Devices that support DisplayPort AltMode 2.0 can output 8K video at 60Hz and full-color 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR as well as 16K video at 60Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR with compression. The standard uses up to 80Gbps data bandwidth using all four high-speed lanes in supported cables or 40Gbps with simultaneous SuperSpeed USB data delivery. The non-profit association expects first DisplayPort Alt Mode 2.0 devices to hit the market next year.
Other features of DisplayPort 2.0 include HDR, high refresh rate, and multiple display configurations. It also supports data transfer and up to 8-channel audio through a single cable. This makes it easier to hook up gaming consoles, laptops, PCs, smartphones, and tablets to supported AR/VR devices, monitors, and TVs. When it is released later this year, USB 4.0 will offer Thunderbolt-like capabilities to devices in a royalty-free manner, which means cheaper accessories.
Apple is expected to switch to USB 4.0 and DisplayPort 2.0 standards for all its future Macs in the coming years. So, we can expect future iMacs, iMac Pros, Mac Minis, Mac Pros, and MacBooks to feature USB 4.0 instead of Thunderbolt 3. Even future Pro Display XDR could feature the same port. USB 4.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices.
Moreover, since Apple is expected to switch to ARM-based processors for future Macs, it will be easier for the company to offer Thunderbolt-like capabilities to those devices without using Intel’s processors or chipsets and without paying Intel for royalties associated with the Thunderbolt 3 technologies. USB 4.0 accessories would be cheaper than Thunderbolt 3 accessories.
Moreover, since USB 4.0 and DisplayPort 2.0 technologies are not restricted to Intel’s processors and chipsets, Apple would also be open to using AMD processors in its future Macs.[Source: VESA]