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DisplayLink Corp.
Industry Semiconductors
Founded 2003
Founder Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser,
Martin King[disambiguation needed]
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, US
Area served
Products USB Graphics chips
Number of employees
100 (2013)
Website DisplayLink.com

DisplayLink (formerly Newnham Research) is a semiconductor and software technology company. DisplayLink USB graphics technology is designed to connect computers and displays using USB, Ethernet, and WiFi. It also allows multiple displays to be connected to a single computer. DisplayLink's primary customers are notebook OEMs (HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer, Asus), LCD monitor manufacturers (Samsung, LG, ASUS), projector manufacturers (InFocus) and PC accessory vendors (Targus, Kensington, Plugable), supporting the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.[1] DisplayLink has seen rapid adoption of their USB graphics solutions and have shipped over two million USB graphics chips into the peripherals market.[2]

DisplayLink operates worldwide with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Taiwan.[3] The company is privately funded and to date has raised $75 million in financing from venture capital organizations Atlas Venture, Balderton Capital, Cipio Partners DAG Ventures and DFJ Esprit.[4]

Company history[edit]

DisplayLink was founded in 2003 as Newnham Research by Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Martin King.[5] The Newnham Research team invented NIVO (Network In, Video Out) designed for low cost thin client computing over Ethernet networks.[6] The company referred to these thin-client computers as network displays.

In 2006, Newnham Research launched its first commercially available product in partnership with the Kensington Computer Products Group: a USB 2.0 universal laptop docking station designed for the retail market.[7]

In November 2006, Newnham Research renamed itself to DisplayLink, a name that better described their display connection technology.[8]

DisplayLink launched its first semiconductor product family, the DL-120 and DL-160 USB 2.0 graphics devices, in January 2007,[9] signalling an important change in the company's business plan from FPGA-based systems to semiconductors. The DL-120 and DL-160 allow up to six additional monitors to be added to a PC through USB 2.0.

In May 2009, DisplayLink launched its second semiconductor product family, the DL-125, DL-165, and DL-195 USB 2.0 graphics devices. This DL-1x5 family brings improved performance, an increase in maximum resolution to 2048x1152, and the integration of a DVI transmitter and video DAC. The first products to ship with the new DL-1x5 chips were the Samsung Lapfit LD190G and LD220G monitors.[10]

On November 17, 2009, DisplayLink announced their first Thin Client product based on their USB 2.0 virtual graphics technology, designed for Microsoft Windows MultiPoint Server.[11] Thin client manufacturer HP was the first to announce a product based on DisplayLink USB Graphics technology with the launch of the t100 Thin Client.[12]

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2012, DisplayLink announced several products incorporating video and graphics over a USB 3.0 "SuperSpeed USB" connection, showing substantial improvements in performance, resolution support, and video quality.[13]

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2013, DisplayLink demonstrated USB Power Delivery in which a standard USB cable is used to charge a laptop computer.[14]


The DisplayLink network graphics technology is composed of Virtual Graphics Card (VGC) software that is installed on a PC and a Hardware Rendering Engine (HRE) embedded or connected to a display device. The DisplayLink VGC software is based on a proprietary adaptive graphics technology. The VGC software runs on a Windows, Mac OS X, Linux host PC and takes information from the graphics adapter and compresses the changes to the display from the last update and sends it over any standard network including USB, Wireless USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi. After receiving the data, the HRE then transforms it back into pixels to be displayed on the monitor. While the basic network graphics technology can be used on a variety of network interfaces (Ethernet, and Wi-Fi), DisplayLink has to date only designed products around USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and Wireless USB connectivity.[15]

Products with DisplayLink technology are supported on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Ubuntu GNU/Linux.[16]

Current generation of USB3 chips is supported by official binary-only driver on Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution. The Linux kernel 3.4 also contains a basic DisplayLink driver.

There was a DisplayLink-supported open source project called libdlo with the goal of bringing support to Linux and other platforms.[17] There are also unofficial reverse-engineered specifications available for older revisions of DisplayLink technology.[18]

IC Generations[edit]


The DL-1x0 family were the first generation of DisplayLink ICs, launched in January 2007. The family consisted of 2 products: DL-120 and DL-160, differentiated by the maximum resolution supported by the device. DL-120 supported up to 1280x1024/1400x1050 and DL-160 up to 1600x1200/1680x1050.

The ICs supported a USB 2.0 input and a 24bit RGB output or LVDS output. Additional chips needed in the design are an EEPROM and DDR Memory. If the design required an Analog RGB (VGA) or DVI output an additional chip was needed to convert the 24bit RGB output to VGA or DVI.[19]

The DisplayLink website no longer shows the DL-1x0 ICs available, so are presumed to be no longer available (as of February 2013).


The DL_1x5 family were introduced in May 2009. The family consists of 4 products: DL-115, DL-125, DL-165 and DL-195, again differentiated by the maximum resolution supported by the device. Features of the DL-1x5 family are:[20]

  • Integrated DVI, VGA, TTL and LVDS (FPI)
  • Dual core design (DL-195/DL-165)
  • Maximum resolution supported: 2048 x 1152
  • Integrated USB 2.0
  • DisplayLink DL 2+ Compression


The DL-3x00 family was first demonstrated at IDF in September 2011.[21] It supports dual video outputs (DL-3900 only) and integrated 5.1 audio and Gigabit Ethernet. It also integrated a new compression scheme, called DL3.0 and content protection using HDCP 2.0 encryption.[22]

The DL-3x00 IC won the Best of CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honoree.[23]


Customers have complained that DisplayLink has not responded to 10.8 Mac OS X problems in a timely manner,[24] however DisplayLink has responded to this criticism and has recently announced a new Mac driver[25] to support all current USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 products. However, the release of Mavericks and Yosemite again caused significant issues with DisplayLink products on Mac OS X. An article on the company's website lays the blame with Apple.[26]

Customers have also complained that DisplayLink USB3 video certified technologies have falsely advertise support for Linux, or not stated that it is OS dependent when running the Display link 3xxx/41xx chipset. Displaylink has attempted to correct this by stating they do not support 3xxx and 41xx chipset for Linux.[27] This was corrected after Display link originally listed as "The DL-3000 series currently supports recent Windows platforms including Windows Multipoint Server 2010/2011, with support for Apple Mac OS and Linux scheduled in the near future." in early 2013. These series of chipsets incorporates HDCP 2.0 encryption barring the implementation in open source software. It is intended to support content protection, and DisplayLink has stated that it needs to ensure this remains secure under an open source environment.[28]


  1. ^ "DisplayLink Customer Products". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. ^ "DisplayLink has just shipped it's 2 millionth chip!!". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  3. ^ "List of DisplayLink Offices". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  4. ^ "DisplayLink Investors". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "About DisplayLink (DisplayLink Website)". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  6. ^ "What is a Ndiyo system?". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  7. ^ "DisplayLink launches high-speed USB graphics technology for multi-monitor computing applications" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2008-10-08. ... its first design win with Kensington Computer Products Group, who will use the USB NIVO in a universal laptop docking station ... 
  8. ^ "Newnham Technology/Research Changes Name to DisplayLink" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  9. ^ "DisplayLink Launches ICs for Connecting Computer Displays via USB and Wireless USB" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  10. ^ "DisplayLink Ships Higher Performance USB Chips Delivering HD Graphics To New Samsung Lapfit Displays" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  11. ^ "DisplayLink Virtual Graphics to Enable Simple, Affordable 10 Seat Thin Client Computing Through Microsoft Windows Multipoint Server 2010 Technology" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  12. ^ "HP Expands Education Portfolio with Low-cost, Easy-to-use Technology for the Classroom" (Press release). HP. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  13. ^ "DisplayLink Virtual Graphics Powers Targus’ USB 3.0 Docks, Adapters" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2012-01-10. 
  14. ^ "DisplayLink Demonstrates New USB Power Delivery charging PC notebooks while simultaneously delivering USB Graphics, Video, Ethernet, and Audio connectivity over a single USB cable". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "DisplayLink Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  16. ^ "Windows Driver Downloads". DisplayLink. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  17. ^ "DisplayLink Releases Linux Source Code for its USB Graphics Processors" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  18. ^ "Unofficial DisplayLink Hardware Specs". 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  19. ^ "DisplayLink DL-120 and DL-160 Product Brief" (pdf). Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  20. ^ "DisplayLink DL-1x5 Series". 
  21. ^ "DisplayLink Debuts First USB 3.0 Graphics Adapter At IDF". 
  22. ^ "DisplayLink DL-3000 Series Product Brief" (PDF). 
  23. ^ "DisplayLink Named as Best of CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honoree". Reuters. 2010-11-09. 
  24. ^ "Mountain Lion Problems". 
  25. ^ "DisplayLink Announces New USB 3.0 Mac Driver". 
  26. ^ http://www.displaylink.com/support/ticket.php?id=354
  27. ^ "Linux Problems". 
  28. ^ "Linux Problems". 

External links[edit]