The New DockPort Standard is here!

For several years now, gamers and users have had to deal with several bulky, annoying cables and connectors. Cables for power, data, and video - oh my! (Anyone else caught that Wizard of Oz reference? No, just me? Oh, ok.)

A while ago, video cables started including more, such as data. The DisplayPort cable included in it's AUX channel a passthrough for 720Mbps, enough for 150% of the bandwidth needed for USB 2.0 (480Mbps), that could be used for any number of purposes. It also included audio information, eliminating the need for separate audio cables. Of course, the same is also true with HDMI.

And recently, USB 3.1 was unveiled, showing itself capable of delivering up to 100W of power (5A, 20V). Now AMD has brought it all full circle, releasing a new standard which includes data (much like USB), video (like DisplayPort and HDMI), audio, and power (like the new USB 3.1). Older versions of USB included power, but was fairly limited. That limit ended up only being able to power fairly low-powered devices, like wireless cards, USB flash drives, and other such devices.

Now, AMD has teamed up with VESA once again (like they did with FreeSync becoming AdaptiveSync in DisplayPort 1.2a and a mandatory part of the 1.2a standard) to release DockPort.

DockPort was (or, rather, is) AMD's so-called Lightning Bolt - their obvious counter to Intel's Thunderbolt. Rather than make a proprietary standard, it'll be free. And judging from the not-so-widespread adoption of Thunderbolt thus far, and what Apple tried to do with Firewire (or IE1394 for the geek inside all of us... just me? oh, ok...).

DockPort is going to try to unify all these different cable standards. Instead of having USB, Firewire (who uses this still?!), HDMI, DisplayPort, eSATA, and so forth, it'll all have one single cable standard. However, as far as I can tell, it seems like this is a consumer-facing standard, meant for external cabling solutions. It isn't going to replace USB headers, internal SATA connectors, or internal power connectors anytime soon. But that's the beauty of it. It's going to be something to simplify the lives of millions of people around the world, and decrease the learning curve, allowing people to much more quickly learn about technology. (And for those who work in TechSupport, more easily diagnose issues.)

The idea of daisy-chaining devices still presents a problem, and the amount of bandwidth and the details about how DockPort will work are still a bit hazy. But this could present a whole new experience for gamers, consumers and content creators.

Don't like your screen? Swap it out, if it's modular, or just remove it for a seamless tablet experience, using the keyboard with dock as (wait for it...) a docking station. (Ta-daaaa? Oh my Gabe, I'm so cheesy. No hope for mankind...)

This could be a small revolution in it's own right. Having a single connector for everything makes things a lot easier for consumer and gamer alike. Moving forwards from here, the most obvious issue will be widespread adoption. If VESA can push companies to adopt DockPort rather than DisplayPort, and if AMD can include DockPort connectors on their graphics cards, and include DockPort to DisplayPort cables, it will serve two purposes. First, it'll fill the market with DockPort-ready devices. Second, it'll give consumers the option of what high-bandwidth cables can offer, and what having a computer experience with fewer cables will be like.

Basically, rather than the manufacturer-exclusive Thunderbolt, consumers can have a hardware agnostic experience that works on any PCIe-compatible motherboard, and one that doesn't have to be from a specific chipset, with a specific add-on card that's expensive and difficult, and so forth.

AMD is in a unique position, where they could really leverage their graphics card position to include high-bandwidth connectors. This would only help them secure their ties with Apple and Adobe, which is nothing to scoff at, given their adoption of industry-standard OpenCL for hardware acceleration, rather than the proprietary CUDA.

AMD could very well herald great changes the industry needs. But... we'll just have to see what AMD will do next with their next great standard.

Until next time, guys, have a good one! =)

EDIT: More links below.

Also, make sure to check AnandTech's great mini-article about DockPort here:


I heard about Lightening Bolt a while back, had it confused with Apple's Lightening and Intel Thunderbolt for quite a while lol, and thought it would be really interesting but then it sort of dropped off for a while but now it is back.

I really think this is going to be a great option for people who like the idea of Thunderbolt but don't necessarily need all that bandwidth. It seems to be really consumer focused. That, plus the openness of the standard, makes me think we will be seeing much more widespread adoption than Thunderbolt has seen. Especially since a new Thunderbolt will be coming out soon that isn't backwards compatible with the current generation.

Man, it would be nice it to not have the normal jumble of different cables.

Yeah tell me about it. I hate the different form factors of each standard too.

Went to plug a monitor into my computer using an HDMI cable. The GPU uses mini-HDMI. Why the fuck would you use that?

Printer uses USB Type B for some reason.

Mini USB on my one tablet micro on my other tablet.

It is so annoying.


Not really. If AMD decides to put DockPort connectors on the back of all their R9 and R7 300-series GPUs, and also provide a small rigid adapter from DockPort to DisplayPort 1.2a, they could solve all these issues easily.

Moreover, we wouldn't necessarily see the end of USB, because DockPort could give you a powered dock (ta-da!) that could include USB and more. No need for new peripherals, just a small dock on your table. It would help reduce cable clutter to your PC, and also make cable runs shorter. No need for gaming mice with 10 feet of cable, now just 3 feet could do just as easily. =)

I am struck by the fact that it looks like Amd is going to expand their product reach. Building a whole pc ecosystem. Pc and periphals?

Oh thank god, having HDMI, DVI-D, Display Port is so stupid, I just hope this has enough data throughput to support >4k@>60FPS, not having this will hold back intermidairy 6K and 8K screens that will undoubtably appear in a few years (I think we will see 4K screens down to 400USD in 2015). Its also time all those stupid standards like ESATA, Firewire just died, if you need firewire run it to an external firewire box....

Moving from 6 external connection standards (ignoring audio, networking PS/2 and thunderbolt) to 2 is a massive improvement, now they need to rework the sata standard, at the very least merge the power and data cables and bump the speed upto 10Gbps, they should probably rethink the sata standard completely, tieing it directly into the PCIe bus would be cool.

Speaking of 4K at around 400$, Intel agrees (or you were referring to what they said):

4K PLS 23.6" monitor for 399$ by the end of 2014 sounds amazing! Add that to DisplayPort 1.2a (meaning AdapativeSync/FreeSync) support out of the box, and we've got ourselves a real winner! =) I'd buy one yesterday!

Moreover, eSATA and Firewire to need to die. Agreed in full.

But now, I'd expect we're going to see three major connectors, not just two. One DockPort for video, data and power, which would be connected to your monitor. Your monitor would then serve as a USB hub for your other peripherals: after all, why include a DockPort connector on your mouse, or buy new mice and keyboards that use DockPort? It's a good standard, but there's no reason to have peripherals that can handle up to 100W of power in their cabling or even 20Gbps of data, if they're keyboards, mice and whatnot.

As for internal SATA, I agree entirely. Having a single, open standard would be epic. For power delivery, I think I'd like to see something like DockPort, but running entirely off the PCIe bus. Although I'd prefer to make sure internal cables aren't made to handle 100W of power. Maybe a lower-power version of DockPort, since no HDD, ODD or SSD should consume more than 20W of power each! (Although daisy-chaining devices could be interesting, parallel cables tried it, and the bandwidth limitations were atrocious, never mind that this is serial, meaning all the data would be shared across a single daisy-chain.)

I do believe that DockPort might only come out when DisplayPort 1.3 comes out. Remember that DisplayPort 1.3 should handle 8K@ 60Hz, or multiple 4K streams, or 4K @ 120Hz. You can check more about it here:

So in conclusion, assuming we see DisplayPort 1.3, USB 3.1, and 100W of power with data over PCIe using the bus (rather than emulated over USB or SATA or some other nonsense, as PLX recently tried to do) on a single cable, it should be amazing! Less cable management, more work. Simpler, easier, better. =)

The question is how will it become available to the masses? I'd love to see it included on every APU motherboard and every R9-series graphics card as default, and the R7 250X-series of GPUs and above. Maybe also include a small 60cm adapter cable from DockPort to DisplayPort for compatibility, but giving it to the public would rush the rollout of the new standard and give consumers a taste of how epic this is! =) Also, putting it inside a component with good voltage regulation (like a graphics card or a motherboard) would not only improve the quality of the internal components inside that are needed (giving their products more stability), it would also provide them with a reason as to why their systems consume more power. And how that can translate into more benefit to the customer, but power that isn't always being consumed if DockPort isn't being used. Power only when you need it, for what you need it.

Plus, given the extra voltage regulation, there would be no more need for external power bricks for monitors or laptops. The motherboard or GPU would do it for the monitor or TV in question. Meaning less stuff to worry about, which is always good. So overall, it's a great thing. I just hope we can actually see modular laptop screens come as a result from this. If so, it'll be epic! And heck, if we see 3 DockPort connectors replacing the DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI on the back of current connectors (and this will be more and more frequent as 4K is pushed to consumers more and more at more affordable prices), it'll really help us move away from the pinned connectors (D-Sub and DVI), and also lower-bandwidth connectors (HDMI).

I think we're still going to see HDMI in the future, and USB, but only because they're so common. I think USB is going to still be used for low-bandwidth and low-powered devices, but their power and data will run off a DockPort hub, while more power-hungry devices (like external video cards for monitors - for the love of Gaben, yes!) will use the power and data superiority of DockPort. HDMI will still likely be used in TVs, simply because HDMI is in bed with Hollywood, TV/Monitor manufacturers, and US-based cable companies (mainly because DRM nonsense). Control over the HDMI standard to push more DRM is something that won't go away from a technological standpoint, and would require political intervention, but given the socio-political stance, we're not going to see HDMI go away so soon. Also, given the amount of devices that run HDMI, we're still going to see it until consumers move away from it. Remember how long it took consumers to move away from non-HD TVs, or computer users to move away from D-Sub (15-pin analog, VGA) ? The same thing will happen once more.

We're just going to have more options for a little while, but eventually it'll all settle. New standards always crop up (like HD-DVD versus BluRay), but consumers make a choice and move on, not looking back. There's a transition, there always is. But at the end of it, we'll have more bandwidth, more power, more video horsepower, fewer cables, and (more importantly) fewer standard.

Cheers! (wow that was long... is there anyone still alive reading this?)

Both, I did see that article before posting, but when those $600 monitors came out I thought they would probably get down to $400 in 2015 and come 2016 maybe there will be some as low as $200. I think adoption is going to pick up fast, as wendel said its 4x full HD so no scaling issues, and there is alot of financial incentive for producers to make reasonably priced panels (i.e. being the first, i.e. all the upgrade sales). I also wouldn't be surprised if we get intermediary 6K panels sometime soon-after as 4K becomes mainstream (companies like to offer premium products).

As for the connection interfaces, what we have now is an absolute mess, going down to just dockport/usb 3.1C networking and audio on the back would be a good start, with as we are saying a redesigned, powered SATA standard that plugs somehow into the PCIE bus (even if indirectly, which might be optimal because then you can have load balancing instead of a 1:1 provision) would be pretty cool, as this would allow the optimal use of the bandwidth. Then I think dockport and USB should merge, and eventually create a single universal standard. I think the problem is that these other standards just wont want to die...

The problem is these connectors do not have very good ranges at high bandwidths, then we see something like thunderbolt where we have a fibre and copper version, which adds cost. Going with fibre is probably more expensive, its faster, you get more range, but then you loose your powered cable. So I think eventually we will see a fibre version, a copper version, and either a completely different standard, or a third variant of some kind used for internal devices. Preferably I would like them to have a fiber/copper hybrid that can be powered. No idea how much it would cost, but its probably better to have something like a USB interface that plugs into the PCIE bus, do so indirectly, that way you can load balance it, because the smallest increment of PCIE is one lane, you are going to run out of lanes, and PCIE 4.0 is about 2GBps per lane. And you can add a security layer, thunderbolt is vulnerable to attack because it plugs directly into the PCIE bus.

Vesa needs to pick a standard and run with it, they shouldn't have updated HDMI and Display port, or they should have never introduced this, this would force producers to adopt a single standard, which would be good for consumers as you only need one connection. They then should have designed adaptors for the other two, to ensure backwards compatability.

Yep. Overall, I think USB and DockPort should merge, and I think HDMI should kick the metaphorical bucket. I do think, though, that we should see a Low-Powered version of DockPort for mobile phones, laptops, and other devices, one where they don't actually supply the 100w capable. Having a lower-powered option would be much more reasonable for smaller devices, and knowing based on the connector what the maximum amount of power you can receive or transmit would help.

For example: DockPort 1.0a could be 100w, 1.0b could be 40w, and 1.0c could be up to 10w. That would give more flexibility to DockPort, and adapters would limit the total amount of power (but not bandwidth) the cable could deliver.

As for power and data on the same cable using copper and fiber, I think that's easily do-able. Fiber doesn't receive interference from copper, meaning the copper could deliver all the power (the same way a 50-foot extension power cable can), while the fiber could deliver all the data. We just need very low-latency electrical/optical converters at both ends, and that's been very tricky thus far from a scientific and engineering perspective.

Network cables will still exist for a long time. Althogh I think if we could somehow use DockPort as a network cable, a 40Gbps switch (DisplayPort 1.3 runs about 31Gbps, and USB 3.1 runs about 10Gbps) might be possible, and streaming using such an approach (imagine if your router could also serve as a switch for streaming without any loss of quality, or you could use that 40Gbps for any other type of data and not just video).

As for intermediary resolutions... well, not so sure. 1440p was one-third extra resolution vertically and horizontally. So a third extra beyond 4K (2160p) would be 2880p, or 5160 x 2880. Or it could be 5760 x 3240, or 3240p. That would be perfect 3x scaling of 1080p. Currently, though, 2160p is 2x perfect scaling of 1080p and perfect 3x scaling of 720p. So whether we're going to see 2880p or 3240p as the intermediary, high-end productivity resolution (for Apple, Dell and other devices), we'll have to wait and see. I'm hoping we see 3240p, though. It offers better scaling of 1080p, which is a big plus if we expect to see better scaling of games, consoles, streamed movies and more. After all, that helps push network speeds (ISPs) to do a better job (well, sort of... not in Canada, US or Australia), it helps push developers to create better compression algorithms (H.265 and Google's own, open VP9), and it pushes hardware companies to include ASIC devices for the rapid encoding and decoding of these data streams. =)