The new Type-C USB standard, which first rolled out to OEMs last month, also includes what’s described as ‘DisplayPort Alternate Mode,’ which means it’s capable of transmitting data of much higher resolutions. Set to be a part of the elusive Retina MacBook Air’s hardware repertoire, the multi-functional Type-C standard would serve as both USB and DisplayPort in one hybrid package, pushing SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) while also supporting display resolutions up to and above the 4K threshold for Ultra-HD.
This 12-inch Retina MacBook Air has continued to evade us. It was back in 2012 that Apple first took the wraps off the MacBook Pro with Retina display, and on a monthly basis since that launch, there have been reports that the Cupertino’s ultra-slim notebook would follow suit. Despite the continued wave of rumors and speculation, though, we’ve still yet to see any tangible evidence that such a device is even a part of Apple’s thought process, although it has been suggested more recently that the Retina MacBook Air will manifest itself once the new line of Broadwell processors from Intel have begun shipping later this year.
But while the idea of a new chip and higher-res display is appealing, connectivity is also a key factor in any new MacBook launch, and with the USB Type C also said to be capable of transmitting up to 100 watts of power through just one cable, the combined efforts of the The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group seem to be paying dividends.
The DisplayPort Alternate mode essentially utilizes some of the SuperSpeed USB lanes to offer a full DisplayPort performance, so as well as transmitting ordinary USB data and power, the Type C-USB standard can also push high-res audio/ video. DisplayPort Alt Mode can also be configured to utilize some lanes for data and others for DisplayPort, as VESA describes:
For example, the use of two lanes for DisplayPort at 8.1 Gbps per lane would allow simultaneous transfer of SuperSpeed USB data (up to 10 Gbps in each direction) while also supporting a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) DisplayPort monitor.
It will clearly be a versatile standard, as you can see by VESA’s example, and let’s just hope that with so many great new technologies arriving now or during the next six months, the Retina MacBook Air lives up to its billing.