HDMI & DisplayPort Cables

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HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)

An audio/video interface connection for transferring audio/video data  from an HDMI-compliant source device, such as a display controller, to a compatible computer monitor, video projector, digital television, or digital audio device. In nowadays HDMI is a digital replacement for analog video standards.

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HDMI connectors have 19 pins and are most commonly seen in three sizes: Type A (standard), Type C (mini), and Type D (micro). Of these, Type A is by far the most common. Most HDMI connectors use a friction lock, meaning that a tight fit keeps the plug mated to the socket, but some vendors have developed proprietary locking mechanisms designed to prevent the cable from pulling loose.

  • Standard HDMI Cable - Commonly found on TVs, projectors, set-top boxes, laptops, and games consoles. Provides sufficient bandwidth for only 720p and 1080i resolution video.
  • Mini HDMI Cable - Will be mainly found on some laptops and tablets.
  • Micro HDMI Cable - Found on devices like tablets and smartphones.

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Other features of standard HDMI Cable:

  • Standard HDMI Cable with Ethernet: Has the same bandwidth, but adds support for 100-mbps ethernet.
  • High Speed HDMI Cable: Provides more bandwidth, and can carry video with a resolution of 1080p or higher (up to 4096 by 2160, but at a maximum refresh rate of just 24Hz, which is fine for movies, but terrible for games). This type of cable can also handle 3D video.
  • High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet: Supports the same resolutions as High Speed HDMI Cable, as well as 3D, and adds support for 100-mbps Ethernet.

All four types of HDMI cables have a feature called the Audio Return Channel (ARC) that can send the audio from the TV tuner in your HDTV back to your AV receiver. The HDMI specification doesn't define a maximum cable length, nor does it state what type of material HDMI cables should be composed of. HDMI can handle a single video stream and a single audio stream, so it can drive only one display at a time. HDMI cables have integrated circuits embedded in the cable to amplify the signal. Active cables can be longer and thinner than passive cables (thinner cables are less likely to fail when forced to make hard bends).



The digital display interface primarily used to connect a video source to a display device such as a computer monitor, though it can also be used to carry audio, USB, and other forms of data. The DisplayPort was designed to replace VGA, DVI, and FPD-Link. DisplayPort is backwards compatible with VGA, DVI and HDMI through the use of passive and active adapters.
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A single DisplayPort interface can support up to four monitors at 1920-by-1200-pixel resolution each, or two monitors at 2560-by-1600-pixel resolution, with each display receiving independent audio and video streams. And since some GPUs can support multiple DisplayPort interfaces, you can daisy-chain compatible monitors to connect as many as six displays to one source.

The current version of DisplayPort 1.2, delivers enough bandwidth to carry video resolutions of up to 3840 by 2160 pixels at a refresh rate of 60Hz, and it supports all common 3D video formats. DisplayPort cables can also carry multichannel digital audio. On the other hand, DisplayPort can’t carry Ethernet data, and the standard doesn’t have an audio return channel. 

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With the addition of a simple adapter, a DisplayPort cable can connect a DisplayPort source to a VGA display (which is very useful when you need to connect your laptop to an older video projector). Adapters are also available to connect a DisplayPort source to a single-link DVI or HDMI display. HDMI cables can be connected to a DVI interface, but that’s it. A passive copper DisplayPort cable can support extremely high data rates (a video resolution of up to 3840 by 2160) over a length of 6.5 feet. If you want to run a passive copper DisplayPort cable as long as 50 feet, the standard says you'll be limited to 1080p resolution—but the spec is conservative, and in practice that 50-foot cable can carry enough data to support resolutions as high as 2560 by 1600 (sufficient for a 30-inch display). An active copper DisplayPort cable, which draws power from the DisplayPort connector to operate a signal amplifier embedded in the connector, can carry video with a resolution of 2560 by 1600 over a 65-foot cable. Finally, Fiber DisplayPort cables can be hundreds of feet long.

Thunderbolt is the brand name of a hardware interface developed by Intel that allows the connection of external peripherals to a computer. Thunderbolt 1 and 2 use the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP). Thunderbolt combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) into one serial signal, and additionally provides DC power, all in one cable. Up to six peripherals may be supported by one connector through various topologies.

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