What is Mini DisplayPort?

Mary Elizabeth

DisplayPort is a standard for digital display interfacing. It was set by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) in 2006, and was updated in 2007 and 2009. The Mini DisplayPort is a connector that implements the DisplayPort interface in a miniaturized way, first announced by Apple® in October 2008. It was adapted by VESA into the DisplayPort standard in 2009. It is hot pluggable, which means that peripherals attached through the Mini DisplayPort can be connected or disconnected while a computer is on without causing any damage to any components.

Mini DisplayPorts are used in Apple desktops such as the iMac.
Mini DisplayPorts are used in Apple desktops such as the iMac.

Mini DisplayPort technology is used in Apple computers including notebooks, such as MacBook®, MacBook Air®, and MacBook Pro®; desktops, such as iMac®, Mac Mini®, and Mac Pro®; servers, and Apple Cinema Displays®. It is also used in a variety of Toshiba® notebooks, including Satellite Pro® S500, and Tecra® A11, M11, and S11. This technology allows for either extended display, so that the workspace from a notebook continues on an external monitor, or mirrored mode, when a projector is attached and one wants to show an audience the view on one’s screen.

MacBook products typically contain mini DisplayPort technology.
MacBook products typically contain mini DisplayPort technology.

Mini DisplayPort is not the first miniaturized interface for displays. Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI preceded it. DVI stands for Digital Visual Interface, a standard for digital displays introduced in 1999 and used on many flat-panel monitors, for example. DVI supports High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), a means of enforcing DRM (Digital Rights Management) by encrypting content between, for example, a computer and the display on which it would be played. Mini DisplayPort continues the use of HDCP in addition to supporting the DisplayPort Content Protection (DPCP), DisplayPort’s own optional DRM system. This has led to some errors when trying to play various types of material from the iTunes Store.

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By use of an adapter, either a DVI or a VGA (Video Graphics Array) display or projector can be connected to a Mini DisplayPort. VGA is another display standard, introduced in 1987. VGA is analog, while DVI is digital, and new flat panel displays may have both types of output. The adapters are called a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter and a Mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter respectively.

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