The Truth About DisplayPort vs. HDMI

Lots of customers I talk to are interested in understanding the  differences between DisplayPort and HDMI display interfaces. Recently, I saw a PC World article from Tom Mainelli where he questioned the benefits of DisplayPort compared to HDMI.  That's why I wanted to take some time to share Dell's perspective on this. In our view, both interfaces will be increasingly important for PC users and will coexist to meet different product applications.

HDMI is intended as an external consumer electronics connection for HDTVs.  It is rapidly replacing S-Video and component video as the primary connection to TV sets.  HDMI appears on consumer monitors so that they can be connected to Blu-ray Disc players, game consoles, and other consumer electronics. This allows the monitor to be used as an entertainment display.  HDMI is also found on PCs to enable connectivity to HDTVs.

In contrast, DisplayPort is the digital interface for connecting flat-panel displays to computer systems. It will eventually replace VGA, DVI, and LVDS in IT equipment such as home and office PCs, projectors, monitors, and data center consoles.  HDMI is not designed to meet these internal and external IT connectivity requirements…it is an external consumer electronics interface.

HDMI is based on legacy CRT raster-scan architecture. DisplayPort is designed for modern flat-panel displays and PC chipsets. DisplayPort has a micro-packet architecture with low voltage signaling that  more easily enables networked displays.  In the future,  DisplayPort will also allow daisy chaining displays at full graphics performance, including 3D. and content protection.  Today's USB-based daisy-chaining solutions do not support high performance 3D graphics or protected content.  

HDMI has rules for how to implement and use the technology. Business and enterprise customers may not want to implement all of the consumer electronics features that are required in HDMI products. In contrast, DisplayPort is the display equivalent of Ethernet….anyone can implement it in any type of application. A VESA compliance program ensures interoperability for products featuring the "DisplayPort Certified" logo.

DisplayPort supports higher performance as a standard feature-every 6-foot cable supports 10.8 Gbps. With HDMI, high performance is optional and comes at a significant cost premium. DisplayPort has better support for projectors and enables cool ultra-thin monitors. It supports native fiber optic cable and offers latching connectors, features that are missing from HDMI.  Down the road, DisplayPort will allow multi-function monitors with a single cable delivering display, audio, and USB connectivity. It will also support multiple monitors on a single connector.

I know there's more to be said on this topic, and we plan to blog more about it in the future.  If you have any questions, concerns or comments please let us know here.

About the Author: Bruce Montag