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DisplayLink Corp.
FounderDr. Quentin Stafford-Fraser,
Martin King
Area served
ProductsUSB Graphics chips
Number of employees
160 (2016)

DisplayLink (formerly Newnham Research) is a semiconductor and software technology company owned by Synaptics that develops the DisplayLink USB graphics technology. This technology enables computers and displays to connect using USB, Ethernet, and WiFi, and also allows for multiple displays to be connected to a single computer. DisplayLink's primary customers include notebook OEMs, LCD monitor manufacturers, and PC accessory vendors, and their technology is compatible with a wide range of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, ChromeOS, and Linux.[1]

DisplayLink operates worldwide with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Taiwan.[2] The company is privately funded and by 2013, had 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 allegedly better described their display connection technology.[7] The name is very similar to the DisplayPort display interface, which was approved by VESA earlier that year.

DisplayLink launched its first semiconductor product family, the DL-120 and DL-160 USB 2.0 graphics devices, in January 2007,[8] signalling a 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 brought 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 CES in 2013, DisplayLink demonstrated USB Power Delivery in which a standard USB cable is used to charge a laptop computer.[13]

At CES in 2016, DisplayLink announced their latest docking chip, DL-6000 series, to support dual 4Kp60 over USB 3.0.[14]

At CES in 2017, DisplayLink demonstrated Wireless VR using DisplayLink graphics over a wireless 60 GHz link.[15]

On August 31, 2020, DisplayLink was sold to Synaptics. [16]


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, macOS, or 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.[17]

Products with DisplayLink technology are supported on Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, macOS, Android, ChromeOS and Ubuntu.[18]

IC Generations[edit]

DL-1x0 (2007)[edit]

The DL-1x0 series 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).

DL-1x5 (2009)[edit]

The DL-1x5 series 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

DL-3xxx (2011)[edit]

The DL-3x00 series was first demonstrated at IDF in September 2011.[21] 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.[22]

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

DL-41xx (2013)[edit]

The DL-41xx series came out in 2013. It is a USB 3.0 to LVDS device, supporting DL3 compression and HDCP 2.0 encryption.[24] 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.[25]

The IC has been integrated into a number of portable USB displays from AOC, ASUS and Taeseok.[26]

DL-5xxx (2014)[edit]

The DL-5xxx series was the first USB 3.0 graphics chipset to support 4K UHD resolutions. The chipset was launched in 2014 at Interop.[27]

DL-6xxx (2016)[edit]

The DL-6xxx series was announced at CES 2016.[14] This version supports dual 4Kp60 displays over a USB 3.0 connection via a USB Type-C or USB Type-A connector.

OS Support[edit]

DisplayLink technology does not install any hardware on the USB host device, therefore a driver must be installed. DisplayLink drivers for several operating systems are available.

There are unofficial reverse-engineered specifications available for older revisions of DisplayLink technology.[28]

Microsoft Windows[edit]

The current DisplayLink drivers (June 2017) support Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Support for Windows XP (32bit only) and Windows Vista is available with older DisplayLink driver versions.[29]

There is no support for Windows RT versions.[30]

Apple macOS[edit]

DisplayLink drivers are available for OS X 10.8 and later but newer DisplayLink chipsets require newer versions of the driver, which in turn require more recent macOS versions.[31] DisplayLink confirmed that macOS version 10.13.4 through 10.13.6 broke compatibility with their driver. DisplayLink is supported on macOS 10.14. macOS 10.13.4 introduced support for external graphics processors also known as eGPUs.[32]


An Android app was made available in the Google Play store, called DisplayLink Desktop, in May 2015, however it is only available for Android 5.0 Lollipop, and later.


The current generation of USB3 chips is supported by a binary-only driver on Ubuntu.[33] The Linux kernel 3.4 also contains a basic DisplayLink driver.

A DisplayLink driver installer for Debian and Ubuntu based Linux distribution (Elementary OS, Mint, Kali, Deepin, etc.) is available as part of displaylink-debian project.[34]

There was a DisplayLink-supported open source project called libdlo with the goal of bringing support to Linux and other platforms.[35]

Google ChromeOS[edit]

DisplayLink enabled devices can be used on ChromeOS from R51 onwards.[36]


An independent review published in 2011 determined that at the time, DisplayLink use led to significantly higher CPU utilization compared to displays connected by native video interfaces.[37]

Summer 2012 Mac OS X 10.8 problems[38] were addressed by a new DisplayLink Mac driver announced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.[39] An article on DisplayLink's website said that minor issues under Mavericks (October 2013) and Yosemite (October 2014) were being resolved in collaboration with Apple.[40]

Customers have also complained that DisplayLink USB3 video certified technologies have falsely advertised support for Linux, or not stated that it is OS dependent when running the Display link 3xxx/41xx chipset.[citation needed]

DisplayLink finally responded to this in August 2015 by releasing a binary driver for Ubuntu, which supports all current USB 3.0 ICs.[41] 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.[42]


  1. ^ "DisplayLink Customer Products". Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2010-02-16.
  2. ^ "List of DisplayLink Offices". Retrieved 2010-02-16.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "DisplayLink Investors". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  4. ^ "About DisplayLink (DisplayLink Website)". Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
  5. ^ "What is a Ndiyo system?". Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. 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. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. 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. ^ a b "DisplayLink Announces Advanced Dual 4kp60 USB-C Docking Chipset With USB Standard-A Backwards Compatibility at CES 2016".
  15. ^ "DisplayLink Showcases Ultra-Low Latency Wireless VR Concept at CES Las Vegas 2017". www.displaylink.com. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  16. ^ "DisplayLink sold for $305m cash to Synaptics in deal valued at $407m | Business Weekly | Technology News | Business news | Cambridge and the East of England". www.businessweekly.co.uk. Retrieved 2020-08-17.
  17. ^ "DisplayLink Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-09-02.
  18. ^ "Windows Driver Downloads". DisplayLink. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  19. ^ "DisplayLink DL-120 and DL-160 Product Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-06.[permanent dead link]
  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. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11.
  24. ^ "DL-41xx Product Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  25. ^ "DisplayLink DL-41xx family".
  26. ^ "DisplayLink launches new USB monitor chip family". Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  27. ^ "DisplayLink launches industry leading DL-5700 USB 3.0 UHD 4K Chipset with Audio and Integrated Ethernet at Interop 2014".
  28. ^ "Unofficial DisplayLink Hardware Specs". 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  29. ^ "DisplayLink Windows Downloads".
  30. ^ "Which Operating systems does DisplayLink currently support".
  31. ^ "DisplayLink macOS Software".
  32. ^ "Use an external graphics processor with your Mac". 24 January 2023.
  33. ^ "Ubuntu support".
  34. ^ Hodzic, Adnan (2019-11-29), DisplayLink driver installer for Debian and Ubuntu based Linux distributions.: AdnanHodzic/displaylink-debian, retrieved 2019-12-01
  35. ^ "DisplayLink Releases Linux Source Code for its USB Graphics Processors" (Press release). DisplayLink. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  36. ^ "Chrome OS support".
  37. ^ "USB Monitors? DisplayLink's Technology, Examined". Tom's Hardware. Future US, Inc. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  38. ^ "Mountain Lion Problems".
  39. ^ "DisplayLink Announces New USB 3.0 Mac Driver".
  40. ^ "Known issues with DisplayLink on OS X 10.9, 10.10 and 10.11 (Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan)". DisplayLink Support. Palo Alto, California: DisplayLink. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  41. ^ "DisplayLink Ubuntu driver".
  42. ^ "Porting the DisplayLink Ubuntu driver to other Linux distributions".

External links[edit]