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: