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Professionals Should Stay Away from macOS Catalina for Six Months

See Caution on Upgrading to macOS Catalina — Could Cost You Money and Functionality.

Don’t break your workflow, don’t force upgrade costs—let the dusk settle on macOS Catalina—do not “upgrade”.

MacOS Mojave was a security and usability disaster for months. For now, stick with the right geography.


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Best Speech to Text App for Dictation, for Other Uses?

Readers might help me and help other readers decide what is the best speech to text app (dictation).

I want to save myself some typing, and be able to "write" while I hike or walk or am out and about when an idea pops into my head. Or to save the strain on arms and hands (typing).

I’d prefer a simple interface, I don’t need multi-language support and most important of all: it absolutely must work without any internet connection and in airplane mode. That’s because I anticipate usage frequently when I do not have internet.

Some things I might use it for:

  • Dictation for blog posts, articles (sometimes with technical words).
  • Dictation for editorial purposes.
  • Notes, reminders, how-to for myself or family.
  • Texting or emailing someone on iOS, where typing is incredibly tedious (I suspect that this purpose may require a different app).

Thanks! I will share useful comments.

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Caution on Upgrading to macOS Catalina — Could Cost You Money and Functionality

MPG strongly recommends NOT installing macOS Catalina, which is due out within weeks. Wait at least 3 months and probably more.

There is no reason to “upgrade” and make your life a hassle. Apple’s calendar driven releases have proven themselves to be untested bug-ridden messes for the past 4 or 5 releases. It’s a clear and compelling track record. You don’t need the hassle! Mojave did not one good thing for my work and workflow and to this day has continuing hassles—and I waited a full 6 months before installing it.

But wait—it gets much worse32-bit software will no longer run, see below.

Recommended software update settings

Turn off (uncheck/disable) the Install macOS updates preference. Otherwise, Apple may foist macOS Catalina on you one morning quite unexpectedly.

Turn off Download new updates when available: if you travel as I do, losing gigabytes of my cell phone data to unwanted and unimportant (and outright destructive) software updates is a major downer when things slow to 12KB/sec with AT&T (AT&T blatantly lies about throttled speed, it’s around 12K/sec not 128K as claimed, proven over a week of suffering through it).

32-bit software will no longer run

Apple just doesn’t 'get' the pain macOS Catalina will cause some of us.

This pattern of disregard for professional in the Mac user base is nothing new, unfortunately. Researchers, professionals, business people, custom software in R&D/science/universities, etc—lots of people out there are going to be VERY unhappy if upgrading to Catalina.

There is absolutely no good reason that 32-bit software has to be abandoned; it is purely a decision of Apple management. Apple provides BootCamp which can run Windows, but cannot support its own platform’s 32-bit software? This shows gross disrespect for its users. While a virtual machine can be used to run another version of macOS, that’s a hassle and a memory hog—and if so, Apple ought to provide the VM.

Significant upgrade costs

Upgrading to Catalina might prove costly $$$ to upgrade. In my case, I face a $500 cost to update software just for compatibility with no benefit to me—software crucial to my business (accounting). Just a friggin total waste of money when I could buy something useful.

Might be no update available

Or there might not be any update at all, so if the software matters to you—ooops!

In my case, a crucial piece of software I use for hours a day doesn’t have an upgrade to 64-bit version at all. Upgrading is thus a nightmare proposition as there is no good alternative, and moreover I am used to the software.

Major security bugs again perhaps?

The last two macOS releases had major security bugs and many other bugs. It took six months to stabilize the release.

  • There will be (as usual) changes that disrupt workflow, and rarely are these improvements.

In short, and especially if you are a professional, see your mental health professional if you feel an urge to upgrade.

Günther D writes:

I totally agree with you. I usually wait 6 months or sometimes even longer before installing a major OS upgrade (it applies to Windows as well). All based on experience since 1990 when I started using Mac professionally. ”If it works don't fix it”.

MPG: absolutely. My advice for any pro using a Mac on any reasonably recent macOS is to treat it like a toaster: keep using it for its value and avoid all major OS upgrades.

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Features Coming to IntegrityChecker java

Several changes are coming to IntegrityChecker (part of diglloydTools), but only the Java version, which is cross-platform (any OS that can run Java).

All users are encouraged to migrate to the Java version of IntegrityChecker. The native version will not be carried forward into macOS Catalina.

Get diglloydTools.

For IntegrityChecker java (icj) only...

Better file modification date verification

MacOS has a bug that truncate the file modification date/time. The issue becomes a noisy hassle when verifying files (warnings about changed file dates ). In IntegrityChecker java (icj), the following behavior will occur:

  • At present (before I publish the updated version), icj does not warn about the file dates because it only records the file modification date to the second.
  • Going forward, icj will record the file modification date to the millisecond, but how it is used will vary.
  • The file modification date will be compared to the millisecond if and only if both the actual file modification date has non-zero milliseconds, and the recorded file modification date in the hash file also has non-zero milliseconds. Otherwise, milliseconds are ignored. In this way, files that have non-zero millis will be strictly compared, which will be the case for the same type of file system, e.g., the original volume or a backup using the same file system.

Tracking of folders with no files, subfolders gone missing

IntegrityChecker has always been file-based—no files meant no hashing. This left open one ugly possibility which I rant into myself once: some kind of copying or backup error that prunes off folders.

The change will that now icj will record all subfolder names within a folder, whether or not there are also files in that folder. Warnings will be issued when subfolders go missing.

Summary of subfolder changes:
/Volumes/Scratch/test/junk/a/aa subfolders missing:
{2019-0704-TripPictures, 2019-0714-Birthday}
End summary of subfolder changes.

Better status and logging and summary results

The goal is an HTML summary report with appropriate linking and formatting to make the results more approachable and understandable. Possibly it will be updated in real-time as the operation progresses. This feature may start simple and then improve steadily.


A Java GUI may become available.

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Copying Files in macOS Can Truncate File Date/Time to One-Second Granularity

A user of IntegrityChecker reported that verification of backups was resulting in claims of changed file dates. Investigating, I found that copying files from an APFS file system to macOS Extended changes the file dates by truncating the time to the second (truncating, not rounding).

Since macOS Extended supports file times to the millisecond, there is no good explanation for this behavior other than yet one more macOS bug.

It’s a hassle to have files reported with changed dates when verifying data, so I’m making a few changes to IntegrityChecker java version (icj) to handle this situation better, such as not flagging a date change if the new date has a zero millisecond component.

Example of whacked file dates

I used the dgl finfo command to print out this information. It uses 'Carbon' APIs.

This example from one file for brevity; it happens for all files I tested (thousands).

Original on APFS volume

DataFork:         53529, 57344, closed
CreationDate      2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359873 0.3641260759.57184
ContentModDate    2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359877 0.3641260759.57444

Copy on another APFS volume

DataFork:         53529, 57344, closed
CreationDate      2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359873 0.3641260759.57184
ContentModDate    2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359877 0.3641260759.57444

Copy on macOS Extended volume

DataFork:         53529, 57344, closed
CreationDate      2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359000 0.3641260759.0  <== millis truncated
ContentModDate    2019-05-20 22:19:19.80359000 0.3641260759.0

Simon N writes:

Are you sure HFS+ supports milliseconds? As far as I know, the date resolution on HFS+ is 1s, so it seems to be inevitable that the milliseconds from APFS-originating files get cut off. One might argue Apple could have implemented rounding instead of truncating, but the outcome would (essentially) be the same.

MPG: I see that Wikipedia shows "Date resolution" as "1s", so perhaps my assumptions are invalid.

Because macOS Extended (HFS Plus) uses a 48 bit number for date/time (16 bit each for High/Low/Fraction), I had assumed that non-zero values in the fraction part of the number were milliseconds.

Since many files have non-zero values in the fraction part, it only made sense that this represents milliseconds. But if the file system only does time to the second, then these values are essentially garbage, or being used for oddball purposes by Apple.

Upgrade the memory of your 2019 iMac up to 128GB

Apple Support Cost My Client Dearly

Consult with Lloyd on a robust backup and recovery strategy.

It took me four hours to diagnose and cure problems caused by Apple Tech Support for a consulting client of mine, who had called Apple after a power failure.

In a nutshell:

  • After a power failure, the iMac 5K would no longer boot.
  • Apple support failed to diagnose the problem: I found file system damage to the boot volume (APFS) on the internal iMac 5K SSD. It was non-repairable by Disk Utility. So much for APFS being resilient in the face of power failures.
  • Apple support left the client with a damaged file system on the internal SSD boot drive; the internal SSD remained unbootable and unused and useless.
  • Support directed the client to reinstall macOS, but reinstall of macOS occurred onto an old and slow USB3 hard drive. The install converted the hard drive to APFS (horrible performance on hard drives). When I got there the speed was horrible, with the hard drive making constant noise as APFS banged the drive heads around mercilessly with constant head-seeking.
  • The client lost some stuff because of this fiasco because Time Machine had not run for some days. Nothing major, but some stuff.
  • Adobe Lightroom was left unusable (could not find any files) since the macOS install shoveled everything into a subfolder on the hard drive which had been put into duty as the boot drive.

What a mess. The performance was so bad that hardly anything could be done without great patience. Ultimately I erased the internal SSD to create a clean file system, and got things back onto it and booting off it. I also set up the client with a better strategy should this happen again, with an external SSD for a boot clone, for fast bootable recovery.

A solid backup strategy is important—this client could have done a better job at it, but there need not have been such a godawful mess; Apple support screwed up at every step from what I can tell.

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How macOS Can Cause Data Loss: Spotlight Chooses on Backup (Clone) Volumes, Which User then Works on... Later Wiped Out by Backup

Yesterday I was writing some server code, but I had to run out for an errand. So I started a clone backup and left.

When I returned, I found my code was gone. I was baffled... what the hell happened?

It turns out that I had added a new backup drive, that macOS Spotlight had indexed that backup, and when I opened my source code files, Spotlight decided that instead of using the volume on which my original code resided, Spotlight would just willy-nilly show me files off the backup drive. So I had been editing my code on the backup drive.

The backup I had started had promptly wiped out all my work.

I’ve long loathed the “index by default” approach of Spotlight. Now I have a serious reason to dislike it—and this is not the first time I have suffered—today I spent half an hour debugging code... once again that was on my backup drive and therefore not compiling. Once I figured that out, I took the backup drives out of the Spotlight indexing but the damage had been done yet again (this time, my wasted time).

I don’t know any foolproof way to not encounter this nasty bug yet again—it’s a manual operation to remember to exclude a volume when adding or erasing one. A shell script using mdutil would work, if/whenI get time to do that.

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How to Show or Hide Hidden Files in macOS Finder

To show hidden files in macOS Finder, open Terminal and paste this line:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

To hide hidden files in macOS Finder (default behavior):

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

You will have to logout and login again for the change to take effect.

Update: much better solution from reader Don H:

I don’t know how far back MacOS supports this key combination, but in Mojave typing command-shift-. (period) toggles the visibility of hidden files instantly. Give it a try.

Sometimes cleanup jobs make showing hidden files useful (easy to find/delete), and sometimes seeing them is a nuisance. It’s OK to show and hide whenever needed. The Finder should just build this into the View menu, alas.

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OWC Upgrades the USB-C Travel Dock , Solves Hassles for Laptop Users with SD Card Reader, USB-A Ports, 100W Charging, HDMI Port

OWC has improved upon its original USB-C Travel Dock with an upgrade model utilization a built-in cable storage at bottom and a more robust design including up to 100W of power delivery.

Read about the new OWC USB-C Travel Dock and purchase for about $55.

  • 5 ports of connectivity: (2) USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, (1) HDMI, (1) SD card, (1) USB-C power pass through
  • Power options: bus powered or use existing USB-C power adapter
  • Charge while working: up to 100W pass-through power for a notebook or other devices
  • Neat and tidy: Built-in cable storage
  • Compatibility: notebooks, tablets, Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows and Chrome

The Travel Dock solves several issues on a MacBook Pro or MacBook/Air which would otherwise require dongle adapters. By attaching it to one of the Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports, the Travel Dock makes a lot possible:

  • Plug in up to two USB-A devices like a mouse or external drive
  • Read a digital camera SDXC card.
  • Connect a display.
  • Pass through charging power on the same port as all of this!

Desktop users can also use the USB-C Travel Dock. For example, a 2018 Mac mini lacks an SDXC card slot, and two extra USB-C ports are always handy. While MPG recommends the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock as preferable for desktop use, it costs more for its increased functionality (and requires AC power).

Weight (172 grams), but that is perhaps unavoidable for such a solidly-built item. Also I’d prefer beveled edges to the case, but even Apple doesn’t do that.

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Beware of Phishing — Fake Chase Bank

See previous security tips and previous phishing posts.

Back in February I showed one example of a fake Chase Bank phishing example. Below is another, just as badly done, but many people are fooled. See also:

What is phishing?

Phishing is an attempt to induce you to click on something that directs you to a fake web site containing malware. The truly unwary will then be persuaded to enter their banking credentials. Or it might just be that you get malware hijacking your machine (Mac users are not immune to this).

Nearly all phishing uses bait (and you’re the fish). Bait can be subtle, threatening or insulting. Don’t bite. All bait is designed to provoke a reaction: fear, anger, an appeal to your innate decency to help with or solve a problem, need to respond to your bank or whatever.

RULE: ***NEVER*** click on links or attachments in email!!!

Never means never unless you gain the technical competence to verify the email. Even so, that can sometimes take several minutes to be sure—and the more sophisticated the phishing, the easier it is to overlook a crucial detail.

Below, the attached screen shot shows a relatively crude attack but for most people.

Continues below...

Apple’s sloppy approach in Mail is unacceptable

Some of the parts of an email that would immediately flag the email as risky are in fact hidden. In other words, Apple puts you at risk to make emalis look neat and tidy.

Specifically, "Return-path:" is hidden by default (and sometimes “To:” also. See Apple Mail Security: Viewing Mail Headers. MPG considers it an unacceptable security issue—if you cannot see the obviously bogus header, you might not know the email is a phishing attack. Apple is irresponsible in not flagging such issues.

Why does Apple Mail EVER allow this level of exposure to risk? It is security malfeasance for an email program to present users with such risks.

Safari has active detection of malware sites, but Apple Mail blithely enables outgoing links, making them clickable and thus a serious risk.

It’s about time Apple fixed such sloppy security practices in Apple Mail. Users should not have to be aware of such risks—the risks should be eliminated. We get new emojis with every OS release with top billing in Apple press releases, but Apple cannot be bothered to fix a core Apple Mail security risk? Irresponsible Apple.

The proper first step that Apple should take is to disable all outgoing links in all emails so they are no longer clickable as links. Bonus points for showing the actual destination URL instead of the title. In terms of security, 99% of users would be well served by this. And would bitch and moan about the loss of convenience, but it is the smart thing to do by default.

Next, allow the user to downgrade the security from there, e.g., allow clickable links to (1) only sites previously visited and (2) known-good sites and (3) enable all sites as is allowed now for those who like to take the risk. A bonus feature would be to change the links so that clicking on one presents a dialog showing the actual destination URL and a rating as to safe, unsafe, unknown, then allow the user to take the risk by choice. I deem this a useful thing for technically skilled users, inadvisable for most.

Why hasn’t Apple fixed this extremely dangerous practice right in Apple Mail, and done it two years ago? My view is that the Apple Mail development team is a skeleton crew, because Apple Mail is rife with bugs.

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Awesome Deal on Fully Loaded Mid 2018 MacBook Pro — Save $2800 — WOW!

This is the machine I would have lusted over for myself earlier this year. Well, it doesn’t have the Vega 16 or Vega 20 GPU, but I discount the GPU as of much value for my work. The internal 4TB SSD solves all sorts of travel headaches for storage.

MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.9 GHz Intel-Core i9 six core, 32GB memory, 4TB SSD, Radeon Pro 560X

There is a newer model now, the key difference being that the 2019 model has a 2.4 GHz 8-core versus the 2.9 GHz six-core CPU.

View other great Apple MacBook Pro deals.

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

2018 Mac mini: Thunderbolt 3 Disconnects Drives Due to RF Inteference from WiFI Antenna Placement—OWC Tech Support Solves User’s Issue

That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when storage goes south is no fun, so serious users also use diglloydToolls IntegrityChecker. Whether it is hardware or software (more likely these days given Apple’s repeated issues), knowing your data is intact means freedom from worry

I discussed Thunderbolt 3 problem on the 2018 Mac mini before: see 2018 Mac mini has Thunderbolt 3 Compatibility Issues.

Christian B writes:

I thought you would appreciate a summary of the conclusion from a recent conversation with Joe (tech support) at OWC.

I contacted OWC after days of significant issues mounting my Drobo 5 and Time Machine volumes to my new Mac mini 2018. The Drobo's thunderbolt (TB) 2 cable was connected to the mini TB3 port using an adapter. Within minutes, both volumes would eject. The Drobo Dashboard could not find the Drobo even when I could see the volume on my monitor (before it would spontaneously eject for no apparent reason).

This was completely unexpected since the Drobo was working perfectly just minutes before on my 2013 27” iMac with High Sierra (and had been since 2013). After several failed attempts to fix the problem, I contacted Drobo support for help with what was then ‘obviously’ a software compatibility issue with Mojave (a conclusion drawn in part from the internet). Drobo support was NOT HELPFUL. They wouldn’t talk with me until after I signed up for ‘Drobo-Care.'

It seemed time to ditch the Drobo in favor of OWC’s Thunderbay system. I decided to speak with tech support before sales in order to understand the options before purchasing something.

Joe was very HELPFUL! He made clear that the problem was an Apple design flaw — the Thunderbolt 3 ports were too close to the WiFi antenna and the RF signal caused communication instability, leading to ejection. My only option was to move the point of connection of the Drobo's TB 2 cable to the mini.

After moving the TB2 connection to the TB3 port farthest away from the power input (and location of the wifi antenna) the Drobo mounted and I now have access to all of my photos (~ 6 TB). An important lesson learned after falling into the rabbit hole described above is that it was false economy on my part to rely on a single system for my photo storage and backups (Time Machine only).

A summary of your current recommendations for the configuration of the Thunderbay 4 system would be appreciated for the enthusiast, like me, with a lot of memories and a few prized photos. This assumes you may now have some comments in addition to what you have already posted on your MPG blog.

MPG: Kudos to OWC tech support (USA based) for taking the call and solving the issue for a competing product! I have recommended the OWC Thunderbay 4 as the best product of its kind* out there for some years now—I have five of them plus the OWC Thunderbay 6.

I have not seen this issue perhaps because I disable WiFi on my 2018 Mac mini, gigabit ethernet being a far superior solution. But it looks like my solution might be a better one than as noted above (plugging into a different port), since presumably with WiFi off, there is no RF interference. Plug a Cat 5 or Cat 6 ethernet cable into your WiFi router or a gigabit ethernet switch and enjoy the reliable and faster speed.

The design of the 2018 Mac mini is apparently flawed. I see it as another form-before-function design error (why does it have to be quit that small and tight?!). I am unhapy that as a buyer that I’m stuck with a Lemon. But at least for me, disabling WiFi and using gigabit ethernet is just fine as I currently use it. If it were moved where it is not near ethernet, then it becomes a problem.

* A product is the combination of hardware, software and support—OWC’s support is always free of charge.

Brian M writes:

I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I have been having issues with my 2018 Mac mini with GTechnology G-Drive Mobile Pro SSDs disconnecting constantly!

I contacted GTechnology support, and zero troubleshooting, just an email back saying, “we need to do a Return Merchandise for a defective drive”.

After reading this article, I bought a new Switch and hardwired the Mac Mini - viola no more random disconnects! I have to admit though, I’m rather, actually VERY disappointed in Apple for not catching such a huge issue in QA testing prior to release of the hardware.

MPG: it is indeed *amazing* that Apple apparently does NOT test a fully loaded Thunderbolt 3 bus (6 external devices) with every new machine for weeks at a time. Amazing for reasons of poor product testing, but also because getting a Thunderbolt 3 device certified is a demanding process for companies selling them.

Displayport™ 2.0 Video Standard Enabling Support for Beyond-8k Resolutions

Standards are critical so that new hardware can be developed that becomes available at reasonable prices over time. Now at last there is a standard for drool-worthy display resolutions for the ultimate in photo realism.

Having observed 8K video on a very large TV at close range two years ago at CES, I can attest to the stunning unprecedented visual impact it entails—immersion. Of course that was high-grade video input, and while Netflix video quality at 4K is enjoyable, it is frequently technically poor (lots of noise and compression artifacts). It will be years before quality 8K can be streamed.

See chart below—what’s not at all clear to me is how 77. Gbps bandwidth can be achieved with Thunderbolt 3, which has only 40 Gbps total bandwidth. Presumably this means a new Thunderbolt/USB-C standard to double the bandwidth and/or resorting to dedicated DisplayPort connectors.

It’s mainly about still photographs for me

Being able to gawk and immerse myself in full resolution photographs is sheer viewing pleasure that I’ve been waiting years for, with the iMac 5K being the best affordable experience at present. I will be waiting some years more since affordable hardware than can deliver 16K, let alone 8K is some years off—but the standard now enables 16K displays—awesome!

  • Apple iMac 5K 5120 X 2880 ~= 14.7 megapixels;
  • 6K Apple Pro Display XDR 6016 X 3384 ~= 20 megapixels;
  • 8K display 7680 X 4320 ~= 33 megapixels;
  • 10K display 10240 X 4320 ~= 33 megapixels up to 69 megapixels (10240 X 6820);
  • 16K display 15360 X 8460 ~= 130 megapixels.

All the conventional images I’ve ever taken with a 35mm camera can fit comfortably on a 10K display (10240 X 5400), and come reasonably close on an 8K display, in width at least.

So... not until 16K displays arrive is the challenge really solved.

DisplayPort 2.0 enables up to 3X increase in video bandwidth performance (max payload of 77.37 Gbps); new built-in features enable improved user experience, greater flexibility and improved power efficiency

SAN JOSE, Calif. – June 26, 2019 – The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA®) today announced that it has released version 2.0 of the DisplayPort™ (DP) audio/video standard. DP 2.0 is the first major update to the DisplayPort standard since March 2016, and provides up to a 3X increase in data bandwidth performance compared to the previous version of DisplayPort (DP 1.4a), as well as new capabilities to address the future performance requirements of traditional displays. These include beyond 8K resolutions, higher refresh rates and high dynamic range (HDR) support at higher resolutions, improved support for multiple display configurations, as well as improved user experience with augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) displays, including support for 4K-and-beyond VR resolutions.

The advantages of DP 2.0 are enjoyed across both the native DP connector as well as the USB Type-C connector, which carries the DP audio/video signal through DisplayPort Alt Mode. DP 2.0 is backward compatible with previous versions of DisplayPort and incorporates all of the key features of DP 1.4a, including support for visually lossless Display Stream Compression (DSC) with Forward Error Correction (FEC), HDR metadata transport, and other advanced features. The increased video bandwidth performance of DP 2.0 carried over the USB-C connector enables simultaneous higher-speed USB data transfer without compromising display performance. DP 2.0 leverages the Thunderbolt™ 3 physical interface (PHY) layer while maintaining the flexibility of DP protocol in order to boost the data bandwidth and promote convergence across industry-leading IO standards.

In addition, the new data rates of DP 2.0 come with a display stream data mapping protocol common to both single-stream transport and multi-stream transport. This common mapping further facilitates multi-stream transport support of DP 2.0 devices for a single DP port on the source device to drive multiple displays either via a docking station or daisy-chainable displays. First products incorporating DP 2.0 are projected to appear on the market by late 2020.

“DP 2.0 offers differentiated end-to-end user experiences, across a multitude of market segments, such as productivity and gaming, as well as wider end-to-end interoperability with various connectivity options. It sets a new paradigm for display interface specifications by providing scalability from power-efficient small form-factor displays, to high-resolution and high-refresh-rate large form-factor displays,” said Syed Athar Hussain, VESA Board Vice Chairman and Display Domain Senior Fellow, AMD.

“Intel’s contribution of the Thunderbolt™ PHY layer specification to VESA for use in DP 2.0 is a significant milestone making today’s simplest and most versatile port also the highest performing for display,” said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “By collaborating with VESA, we’re enabling common building block technologies to come together across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”

Higher-resolution Demands Mandate New Developments in Display Interfaces

Industry efforts are underway to push video broadcasting beyond 4K/Ultra HD resolutions, while 8K televisions and PC monitors are already beginning to hit the market. For example, the Japan Broadcasting Company (NHK) has announced plans to broadcast the 2020 Summer Olympics in 8K, and has already begun to broadcast 8K content to viewers.

At the same time, gaming platforms are pushing the envelope on immersive gameplay, driving demand for higher resolutions and video frame rates across PC, laptop, and mobile platforms, including smart phones and VR headsets. Further developments in display interfaces are needed to address these developments.

Tripling Data Bandwidth Performance

The previous version of DisplayPort, v1.4a, provided a maximum link bandwidth of 32.4 Gbps, with each of the four lanes running at a link rate of 8.1 Gbps/lane. With 8b/10b channel coding, that equates to a maximum payload of 25.92 Gbps. DP 2.0 increases the maximum link rate to up to 20 Gbps/lane and features more efficient 128b/132b channel coding, delivering a maximum payload of 77.37 Gbps – up to a three-fold increase compared to DP 1.4a. This means that DP 2.0 is the first standard to support 8K resolution (7680 x 4320) at 60 Hz refresh rate with full-color 4:4:4 resolution, including with 30 bits per pixel (bpp) for HDR-10 support.

Maximizing Gains on USB-C connector

The performance increases enabled by DP 2.0 are through both native DP connectors and the USB-C connector via DP Alt Mode. USB-C allows a single connector for USB data, video data and power. If simultaneous support of SuperSpeed USB data and video is needed, the significantly increased data rates enabled by DP 2.0 give users the ability to have power and SuperSpeed USB data at the same time as super-high-resolution video.

DP 2.0 Configuration Examples

With the increased bandwidth enabled by DP 2.0, VESA offers a high degree of versatility and configurations for higher display resolutions and refresh rates. In addition to the above-mentioned 8K resolution at 60 Hz with HDR support, DP 2.0 across the native DP connector or through USB-C as DisplayPort Alt Mode enables a variety of high-performance configurations:

Single display resolutions

One 16K (15360×8460) display @60Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC) One 10K (10240×4320) display @60Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)

Dual display resolutions

Two 8K (7680×4320) displays @120Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC) Two 4K (3840×2160) displays @144Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression)

Triple display resolutions

Three 10K (10240×4320) displays @60Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC) Three 4K (3840×2160) displays @90Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (no compression)

When using only two lanes on the USB-C connector via DP Alt Mode to allow for simultaneous SuperSpeed USB data and video, DP 2.0 can enable such configurations as:

Three 4K (3840×2160) displays @144Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC) Two 4Kx4K (4096×4096) displays (for AR/VR headsets) @120Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (with DSC) Three QHD (2560×1440) @120Hz and 24 bpp 4:4:4 (no compression) One 8K (7680×4320) display @30Hz and 30 bpp 4:4:4 HDR (no compression)

“Being an open standards body comprising more than 280 member companies across the electronics value chain gives VESA a unique vantage point to anticipate the needs of the display market several years out and add new capabilities to our standards ahead of demand,” stated Alan Kobayashi, VESA Board Chair and VESA DisplayPort Task Group Chair. “DP 2.0 represents one of our most significant milestones in the history of DisplayPort, and is the culmination of several years’ effort and major enhancements to this ubiquitous standard. Like the previous versions of DisplayPort that helped pave the way for major inflection points in video technology such as UHD, 4K, 5K, video over USB-C and HDR, DP 2.0 will help take the industry to the next level – enabling even higher frame rates and resolutions up to and beyond 8K, greater flexibility in display configurations including multiple monitor setups, as well as improved power efficiency.”

Improving Power Efficiency

DP 2.0 also supports VESA’s new Panel Replay capability, which is designed to optimize the power envelope and thermal performance of smaller end devices, such as all-in-one PCs and laptops, with higher resolution displays. Similar to the Panel Self Refresh capability in Embedded DisplayPort (eDP), Panel Replay incorporates a partial update feature that enables the system video processor, or GPU, to update only the portion of the display that has changed since the video frame update, thus saving system power. Advantages include the ability to recharge a device more quickly while at the same time using it.

About VESA

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) is an international, non-profit standards association representing a global network of more than 280 hardware, software, computer, display and component manufacturers committed to developing and promoting the electronics industry. For 30 years, VESA has created and supported simple, universal and cross-product solutions for today’s video and electronics industry. The association’s standards include DisplayPort™, the industry replacement for DVI, LVDS and VGA. DisplayPort utilizes a state-of-the-art digital protocol and provides an expandable foundation to enable astonishing digital display experiences. For more information on VESA, please visit http://www.vesa.org/.

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