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DisplayLink Corp.
Industry Semiconductors
Founded 2003
Founder Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser,
Martin King
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, US
Area served
Products USB Graphics chips
Number of employees
140 (2015)
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 (AOC, ASUS) and PC accessory vendors (Targus, Belkin, Kensington, Plugable), supporting the Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Android and Linux operating systems.[1]

DisplayLink operates worldwide with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Taiwan.[2] 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.[3]

Company history[edit]

DisplayLink was founded in 2003 as Newnham Research by Dr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Martin King.[4] The Newnham Research team invented NIVO (Network In, Video Out) designed for low cost thin client computing over Ethernet networks.[5] 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.[6]

In November 2006, Newnham Research renamed itself to DisplayLink, a name that better described their display connection technology.[7]

DisplayLink launched its first semiconductor product family, the DL-120 and DL-160 USB 2.0 graphics devices, in January 2007,[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]


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.[14]

Products with DisplayLink technology are supported on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X, Android and Ubuntu GNU/Linux.[15]

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.[16]

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:[17]

  • 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.[18] It supports dual video outputs (DL-3900 and DL-3950) 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.[19]

The DL-3xxx IC won the Best of CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honoree.[20]


The DL-41xx family came out in 2013. It is a USB 3.0 to LVDS device, supporting DL3 compression and HDCP 2.0 encryption.[21]It is designed to be embedded into monitors to enable USB as a video input on displays. It is described as a low power device, which enables it to be powered from the USB bus without the need for an external power supply. Power and video data can be delivered over a single cable.[22]

The IC has been integrated into a number of portable USB displays from AOC, ASUS and Taeseok.[23]


The DL-5xxx family was the first USB 3.0 graphics chipset to support 4K UHD resolutions. The chipset was launched in 2014 at Interop.[24]

OS Support[edit]

DisplayLink technology does not install any hardware on the USB host device, therefore a driver must be installed. DisplayLink driver support for OSes are listed below:

Microsoft Windows[edit]

The current DisplayLink drivers (September 2015) support Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Support for Windows XP (32bit only) and Windows Vista are available with older DisplayLink driver versions.[25]

There no support for Windows RT versions.[26]

Mac OS X[edit]

The current DisplayLink drivers are for OS X 10.8 and later.[27] However DisplayLink acknowledge that there are known issues using DisplayLink on OS X.[28]


An Android app was made available in the Google Play store, called DisplayLink Desktop, in May 2015, however it is only available for Android Lollipop.


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.[29] There are also unofficial reverse-engineered specifications available for older revisions of DisplayLink technology.[30]

Chrome OS[edit]

There is no support for DisplayLink in Chrome OS, however there has been some development into this using the DisplayLink open source code.[31]


Customers have complained that DisplayLink has not responded to 10.8 Mac OS X problems in a timely manner,[32] however DisplayLink has responded to this criticism and has recently announced a new Mac driver[33] 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.[34]

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 finally responded to this in August 2015 by releasing a binary driver for Ubuntu, which supports all current USB 3.0 ICs.[35] It is unclear if other Linux distributions will have DisplayLink support, however details on how to port the driver to other distributions have been provided on the DisplayLink website.[36]


  1. ^ "DisplayLink Customer Products". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  2. ^ "List of DisplayLink Offices". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  3. ^ "DisplayLink Investors". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "About DisplayLink (DisplayLink Website)". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  5. ^ "What is a Ndiyo system?". Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  6. ^ "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 ... 
  7. ^ "Newnham Technology/Research Changes Name to DisplayLink" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2006-11-06. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  8. ^ "DisplayLink Launches ICs for Connecting Computer Displays via USB and Wireless USB" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2006-01-09. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  9. ^ "DisplayLink Ships Higher Performance USB Chips Delivering HD Graphics To New Samsung Lapfit Displays" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ "HP Expands Education Portfolio with Low-cost, Easy-to-use Technology for the Classroom" (Press release). HP. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  12. ^ "DisplayLink Virtual Graphics Powers Targus’ USB 3.0 Docks, Adapters" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2012-01-10. 
  13. ^ "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. 
  14. ^ "DisplayLink Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  15. ^ "Windows Driver Downloads". DisplayLink. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  16. ^ "DisplayLink DL-120 and DL-160 Product Brief" (pdf). Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  17. ^ "DisplayLink DL-1x5 Series". 
  18. ^ "DisplayLink Debuts First USB 3.0 Graphics Adapter At IDF". 
  19. ^ "DisplayLink DL-3000 Series Product Brief" (PDF). 
  20. ^ "DisplayLink Named as Best of CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honoree". Reuters. 2010-11-09. 
  21. ^ "DL-41xx Product Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  22. ^ "DisplayLink DL-41xx family". 
  23. ^ "DisplayLink launches new USB monitor chip family". Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "DisplayLink launches industry leading DL-5700 USB 3.0 UHD 4K Chipset with Audio and Integrated Ethernet at Interop 2014". 
  25. ^ "DisplayLink Windows Downloads". 
  26. ^ "Which Operating systems does DisplayLink currently support". 
  27. ^ "DisplayLink Mac OS X Software". 
  28. ^ "Known issues with DisplayLink on OS X 10.9 and 10.10 (Mavericks & Yosemite)". 
  29. ^ "DisplayLink Releases Linux Source Code for its USB Graphics Processors" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  30. ^ "Unofficial DisplayLink Hardware Specs". 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  31. ^ "Chromebooks gaining USB Multiple Monitor Support". 
  32. ^ "Mountain Lion Problems". 
  33. ^ "DisplayLink Announces New USB 3.0 Mac Driver". 
  34. ^ http://support.displaylink.com/knowledgebase/articles/528023
  35. ^ "DisplayLink Ubuntu driver". 
  36. ^ "Porting the DisplayLink Ubuntu driver to other Linux distributions". 

External links[edit]