Linux Getting Driver For USB Type-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 1 July 2018 at 08:36 AM EDT. 9 Comments
The latest USB Type-C work for the Linux kernel adds support for alternate modes in order to begin offering USB Type-C DisplayPort alternate mode support.

The USB Type-C interface offers an "Alternate Mode" extension for non-USB signaling and the biggest user of this alternate mode in the specification is allowing DisplayPort support. Besides DP, another alternate mode is the Thunderbolt 3 support. The DisplayPort Alt Mode supports 4K and even 8Kx4K video output, including multi-channel audio.

While USB-C alternate modes and DisplayPort have been around for a while now and is common in the Windows space, the mainline Linux kernel hasn't supported this functionality. Fortunately, thanks to Intel, that is now changing.

The ASUS ZenScreen should hopefully work nicer under Linux when using the USB-C interface with the new TYPEC_DP_ALTMODE driver.

This week Intel open-source developer Heikki Krogerus published his latest patches for supporting alternate modes and introducing a DisplayPort AM driver which he previously was working on during a "request for comments" stage.

This driver allows for DisplayPort displays and adapters to be attached to the USB Type-C connectors. Heikki has been testing this DisplayPort support in various configurations and is working out well.

The initial patches can be found on the kernel mailing list. He will also be following up with some other related patches soon. Now that the code is past the "RFC" phase, hopefully it will be ready for merging come Linux 4.19.
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