When external Retina displays appear... will the Retina MBP support them?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Moriarty, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Moriarty macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    Officially, Apple lists the Macbook Pro as supporting two 2560*1600 displays via HDMI and Thunderbolt. But they may only say this because there aren't any higher resolution displays in the consumer market.

    DisplayPort 1.2 is over 2 years old, and I believe the standard does support 3840*2160 resolution, which is quite likely what we will see (if not 3840*2400 resolution - if that would work too) when Retina desktop displays are released. And in a few years they're probably going to be available from a number of manufacturers, - Apple, Dell, etc. But I don't even know what version the new Retina Macbook Pro's DisplayPort is.

    But what current Macs could actually support these resolutions? The Macbook Pro can drive 3840*2400 internally (which is downscaled to fit the screen). Is it technically capable (perhaps a software update is needed) of putting out Retina resolutions through Thunderbolt and/or HDMI, so that we're not forced to buy a new computer should we want to drive one or more Retina desktop displays in the future?

    May well be too soon to know this. But I've dug around and not found anything conclusive. Does anyone know anything?
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    They won't be able to support resolutions higher than their specs show. However, newer models released in the future would likely be able to.
  3. Xcelerate macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2008
    With a 10 Gbps Thunderbolt port, you can get 5768x3605 @ 60 Hz. Data transfer usually never reaches its theoretical maximum (the NIC's fault, not the cable's), but it would be safe to say you can certainly drive a 4K monitor. The GT650m has more than enough processing power to do this.

    Whether someone will take advantage of this physically realizable situation is entirely another matter.
  4. Moriarty thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    I don't think that's right.

    5768*3605 resolution * 24 bits per pixel * 60 Hz = 29.9 Gbps.

    The GPU is capable. The internal display is capable (not sure how it connects though, whether something like an internal DisplayPort cable or something else).

    Despite what GGJ says, I think that if the new Macbook Pros do have the latest DisplayPort and HDMI specs, they should support it. I believe that the Thunderbolt display bandwidth is limited to 10 Gbps, however the HDMI port may be a different story as HDMI 1.4 supports 4K resolution.
  5. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2012
    Well there isn't gonna be any retina thunderbolt displays this year that's for damn sure lol. I'm waiting for the updated versions though with USB 3.0 and HOPEFULLY an audio port. From my viewing distance it's already retina lol.
  6. Moriarty thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    True, the 27-inch screens just about are already retina. And if retina desktop displays do turn up, they will only be 4K screens, which will give us the equivalent of 1080p desktop space. So in that way I would probably prefer a 2560 resolution display over a 3840 one.

    I'm just having last-minute uncertainties about how future proof my machine is before it ships, haha... though I'm sure I'll be happy with it for the next 4-5 years. Damn well hope so!
  7. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2012
    Well the great thing about Mac's is that they have a great re sale value. So keep that in mind for future purchases.
  8. Xcelerate macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2008
    Oops... yeah I screwed up. I'm doing that a lot on here lately :eek:
  9. chx1975, Jun 19, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012

    chx1975 macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2012
    Current 27" almost retina? What are you smoking :) ? It's barely above 100ppi. http://members.ping.de/~sven/dpi.html see for yourself.

    I have a 22" 3840x2400 monitor, that's 200PPI. I would say that's where Retina starts. This monitor needs four TMDS links fed to it to get this resolution. DisplayPort 1.1 is barely faster than DL DVI (8.64Gbps vs 7.92Gbps) with a max res of 2560x2048 or so. Now, AFAIK all Thunderbolt has http://assets.vr-zone.net/15554/Thunderbolt_Roadmap.png is DP 1.1. You would need two DP 1.1 just to drive my monitor. A 27" retina would be even higher res, presuming they double the current 2560 x 1440 we are talking of 2560*1440*4 = 14 745 600 pixels. That's fairly close to thrice of DP 1.1 (that'd be 15 728 640 pixels).

    Note that DisplayPort 1.2 has double the bandwidth of 1.1.

    So if Apple releases a 27" Retina Thunderbolt it would need to take over both of your TB ports, operating one in DP 1.2 passthrough ( I am presuming the passthrough can operate in 1.2 mode, there's no guarantee it actually can ), the other in Thunderbolt. They could use one DP 1.1 link to drive a 5120*960 stripe, the DP 1.2 to drive an 5120*1920 stripe and present this mess as one 5120*2880 monitor to the OS. There's hardly any other way because apparently there are only two DisplayPort streams available out of the system. You barely have enough bandwidth even for this, you couldn't go say 30 bits per pixel instead of 24 bit, that extra 25% is not there.

    And the yield on that 27" slab of glass with 44M transistors on it instead of the current 11M is going to be so nice... I can't imagine it costing less than five grand.
  10. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

    Apr 15, 2012
    Like I said from my viewing distance it would be practically retina. I won't distinguish any pixels from where I sit.
  11. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Pretty sure you're way off thinking that your monitor isn't a Retina display, because it definitely is.

    There is no absolute PPI value that defines a screen as being Retina. Depending on how far you sit from your monitor, a Retina display could start at a mere 110 PPI with a 30" viewing distance, up to around 250 PPI at 15", which seems absurdly close to sit to a monitor.
  12. Moriarty thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    Looking at that chart, looks like a DP 1.2 "pass-through" of sorts is on the cards for next year (which sounds like a DP 1.2 Retina display would have to be hooked directly to the Thunderbolt port). So it may be a while yet before Thunderbolt's standard 10Gb/s bandwidth gets upped.

    Though I don't see the desktops going Retina until 2014... it took 2 years to get from a 3.5 inch retina iPhone to a 15.4 inch retina Macbook. It's going to be a few years yet before these screens are commonplace. Not only does the display tech need more work to become economical, so do the electronics needed to drive them.
  13. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    Seriously guys, just because Apple doesn't slap a Retina sticker on a display doesn't mean it's not a "Retina" display. There are plenty of them out there.
  14. g8rjohns macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2010
    Lot of technical info here - way more than I can appreciate, but interesting nonetheless. Here is how I look at it...Go to Apple store. Look at MBPr with Thunderbolt attached. Like it? Buy it. Simple.

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