DisplayPort 1.2a Will Support Adaptive-Sync
The frame tearing when playing games is a distracting sight. Depending on the game, it can be less noticeable in brightly lit outdoor settings or be extremely jarring in a horror game with flashing lights. The standard remedy for it – vsync removes it, but at a price. Only sending the last fully rendered frames to screen removes tearing, but adds lag and makes framerate variance much higher. There are some tricks that can be done when using a screen with a fixed refresh rate, but they still have problems.
The packet-based DisplayPort video interface allows a different approach – GPU can ask the monitor to update right after the next frame is ready, thus syncing the display to the rendering speed. However, the connection itself alone is not enough – monitor’s electronics must support such mode. Nvidia was the first to provide a big marketing push for this feature, with their proprietary G-Sync. It only works with Nvidia’s GPUs and requires special monitors.
AMD were quick to create their own implementation based on existing standard hardware. The embedded DisplayPort (eDP) supported the variable refresh rates since 2009 to reduce the power usage in mobile hardware. AMD have named their approach FreeSync and has demonstrated it on laptops.
Now, VESA has added the support for the variable refresh rates to DP 1.2a standard as an optional feature. While it does not force monitor manufacturers to support Adaptive-Sync when using latest DP, there will be a unified logo to identify such monitors. It will take time for the monitors with the newest DP to come out, but there will likely be more options than for G-Sync monitors. Not being locked to a single GPU vendor is also a good thing.