Eric started working on USB in 1995, starting with the world’s first BIOS that supported USB Keyboards and Mice while at Award Software. After a departure into embedded systems software for real-time operating systems, he returned to USB IP cores and software at inSilicon, one of the leading suppliers of USB IP. In 2002, inSilicon was acquired by Synopsys and he’s been here since. He also served as Chairman of the USB On-The-Go Working Group for the USB Implementers Forum from 2004-2006.
Eric received an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University and an M.S. in Engineering from University of California Irvine, and a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Minnesota. and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Civil Engineering in the State of California
Michael (Mick) Posner joined Synopsys in 1994 and is currently Director of Product Marketing for Synopsys' DesignWare USB Solutions. Previously, he was the Director of Product Marketing for Physical (FPGA-based) Prototyping and has held various product marketing, technical marketing manager and application consultant positions at Synopsys. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the University of Brighton, England.
“If it isn’t broken, it doesn’t have enough features.”
I’ve been thinking about this Engineering joke all week. I love it because it balances what Marketing loves (features) vs. what engineering delivers (quality implementation).
A great example of this is the IoT market. At this point in the adoption cycle, we are still in the earliest market. For consumers, a lot of education is required. Do they need it? Where to buy it? IoT for the Home is still in its infancy. Unless you’re an uber geek or at least a beginning geek, it’s going to take some time set up your IoT home of the future. Or you are going to pay someone $10,000 so you can turn you lights off from your mobile phone.
I am aware for smart buildings the market ahead of the home automation market. The incentives for energy, cost, and security will continue to drive building automation. The staff that install and maintain those systems routinely receive training. At the same time, the custodian and staff have to enable or disable features as needed.
So the balance to be struck with IoT products, the products that support the IoT market for smart homes and smart buildings requires simplicity for the user, and flexibility to realize the goals. Certainly for the end-user, the home-owner or facilities manager, much of this is in the software.
What do you include in your IoT chip which everyone needs?
What are the essential features that you can produce in high volume?
What flexibility do you need to make it marketable for system makers?
For the hardware platform, it’s required, absolutely required to have the flexibility to accommodate different standards. This is because volumes are so low.
- Interface to the environment (like a light bulb)
These will vary based on the design of the product. For example, if some IoT devices will have no controls since all the control will be via your smartphone or tablet or a central control center.
When designing a platform for IoT, the platform must be flexible enough to accommodate changes to meet the different requirements. The hardware specifically must be able to connect to different Connectivity, Sensor, Control, and Power components.
USB and PCIe should be in every IoT design
I like USB (for obvious reasons.)
I like PCIe for even more flexibility
Ideally, an IoT product has both. The cost is relatively low, and it gives greater flexibility in adding the modules you need with off-the-shelf products. So if it’s 5 cents less for the USB version of the WiFi chip, you buy that for this version of the system/end-products.
Connectivity and Controls – USB is attractive because for Connectivity and Controls. It’s easy to prototype an application by buying off the shelf chips, plugging them in via USB and and in a few hours be running WiFi data, connected to a USB camera, on an IoT platform. The host drivers available in Linux (as long as your IoT device runs Linux). They are available in other open source also. If the device is built to be Gadget API compatible, that makes it more likely you can develop a host driver quickly. The Gadget API is a standardized way for drivers to work in Linux. Read more about the Gadget API here.
Sensor – Connect a sensor using USB 1.1 and you can be sending your sensor data through also. (I honestly don’t know if sensors have USB connectors. For the data rates of most sensors, it seems like USB 1.1 would be sufficient)
Power – You can even use USB to power the device or connect a USB battery as you prototype, or charge an onboard battery with USB if you want.
So fast prototyping and bring up with USB
Standard, off the shelf peripherals
Faster driver development with open source
Faster driver development with Gadget API
Customize the features you need, and only the features you need.
Does this reduce IoT devices to a microcontroller, software, PCIe and USB interfaces?Yes, yes it does.
Just choose the number of USB ports you need, and you are done.
There are better minds than mine working on this, I’m sure secret ingredients that make an IoT chip better. If I knew what those were, I’d be there, doing that.
“ Two city slickers go hunting for the first time, get lucky and are dragging the deer back to car. A veteran hunter corrects them, “You’re dragging it by the front legs. That’s wrong. You should drag it by the hind legs.” The city guys thank him and switch it round. After a few minutes, one says,” We are doing this all wrong.” “Whatya mean?” says the other. “We’re getting further away from the car.” ”
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That’s a Pun (which unfortunately has to be explained)
When you design a USB peripheral, like a USB mouse, it will can have as few as 2 endpoints
The mouse needs a control endpoint, for configuration. That’s Endpoint 0 (zero).
It will have 1 Interrupt endpoint.
This takes in mouse clicks, right click, left click, center click, and scrolling mouse wheel.
An interrupt endpoint must get through to the PC immediately for immediate responsiveness.
This is different from an isochronous transfer, like a video or audio transfer. If a packet or a bit of data is lost, it’s more important the video proceed (along with audio) so the viewer can continue to enjoy the video.
The starting point is Certification.
Mr. Posner wrote a great blog on how USB Certification is essential.
It surprises me because some get certification, some do not. It also surprises me because some people, really feel this is the endpoint. There’s nothing else. There is more before, and much more after. USB Certification is critical. It’s only the first part. There’s 90% of the work left to do after certification is complete to make the product reliable.
For Synopsys getting USB certification, is a critical milestone. But it’s one of many. After we’ve built the IP, we certify it, and we keep testing. We never stop.
Control – for configuration – Used in every design
Interrupt – Must be serviced immediately, like mouse clicks or keyboard signals or touch screen signals
Isochronous – For video/audio transfers. If your drop a few bits, it’s okay, because you need to keep the video and audio going. No retrys of the data because your movie or music continues on
Bulk – For data transfers that need 100% accuracy. This is like printing to a printer. That print job has to have all the bits in it, or the print out won’t look right. If a bit is lost, and can’t be recovered through error correction, the system retrys.
For fun here’s a video we did with ASMedia a year ago with our USB 3.1 Device controller. We actually had it certified earlier this year as the first certified USB in the world (universe)
The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA®) is officially launching its early certification test program for products incorporating the new USB Type-C connector and the DisplayPort Alternate Mode (“Alt Mode”) standard.
The Synopsys DesignWare IP supports both the latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 specification, Type-C and the DisplayPort alt mode. What is interesting to know is that there is not unified USB and DisplayPort testing. Both USB-IF and VESA think that while you can do either over the new Type-C connector that the certification process for each will remain separate. This is the right choice in my opinion as Type-C usage is very flexible and not all products that use Type-C will have both USB and DisplayPort integrated. Having the USB and DisplayPort certifications separate is better for the product developers as if their product does not include one or the other then testing is simplified. If their product contains both then not problem either, both certifications can be gained.
If you haven’t already, please read last week’s blog, https://blogs.synopsys.com/tousbornottousb/2016/06/03/stormtrooper-boots-and-usb-ip-reliability/ personally I loved it. Great analogy to why you should never skimp on IP and should always seek out the highest quality, reliable and robust IP. The funny thing is just this week at DAC a customer was complaining about the cost of USB IP but in the same sentence noted that due to a 3rd party USB 2.0 IP (NOT Synopsys’) that they suffered 50% yield. Even worse, the USB was only for debug, manufacture firmware load and test, it was not even a user accessible port. Of course if your debug port is dead you are up that creek without a paddle. This was a high volume device, 50% yield was killing this customers profit costing the company millions of dollars. When you compare what is at risk from lower quality IP it’s easy to justify paying a premium for the highest quality, reliability and robustness from a trusted supplier like Synopsys.
Finally a fun picture from a dinner while I was at DAC. Can you name the individuals in the picture? And more importantly, who ruined the photo with the bunny ears?
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For the 3 of you who haven’t seen the movie: at one point, Han Solo says, “Stormtrooper boots” saying he knew all along Finn was actually a Stormtrooper
(To be clear this will be about the Star Wars Stormtroopers, not Nazi’s like the ones in the news these days)
This got me thinking.
Are those boots comfortable?
Who designed those boots?
Who in the empire ordered those boots?
If the boots aren’t comfortable, do Stormtroopers complain about them?
Does the quartermaster complain to the supplier?
Where is the boot designer?
Do they only care about how the boots look during Imperial Fashion Week?
If a large percentage of Stormtroopers are getting blisters on their feet, how does this show up on the Starkiller Base weekly report:
“Captain Phasma Weekly Report
Location: Starkiller Base
Date: A long time ago
Stormtrooper performance decline of 2% due to boot issues. – Of 200 million storm troopers stationed on planet 2%, or 4 million troopers report injuries. This has resulted in over 8 million visits to the infirmary, 15 million hours of lost work time.
Due to accelerated schedule for primary weapon construction, unable to complete construction of the secondary, backup thermal safety system for safely storing the entire energy output of a sun”
Eric’s commentary: I mean, what’s the probability of rebels attacking our massive planet killing weapon a 3rd time, when the last time was 30 years ago?
So Phasma’s report gets sent up the chain to General Hux, who now has to decide if he’s going to report this to Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) or Supreme Commander Snoke. Two dudes with lots on their mind.
How frustrated is Supreme Commander Snoke? His response (via email) is
“I just spent 200 trillion trillion on this project. It took us billions of labor hours to build, and years to build, and you guys picked a boot that saved us 200,000 Imperial credits and now my Station is gone?
I expect your resignation on my desk. Please see HR for your exit interview”
I imagine this is exactly what Supreme Commander Snoke would write.
Failure in the Empire is probably different than failure of an IP in a 28nm or 16nm or 10nm or 7nm chip.
Your boss isn’t Captain Phasma or General Hux or Kylo Ren
Your CEO isn’t Commander Snoke. (right?)
USB IP isn’t Boots.
The point in this story is small decisions to save money increase risk, and increase it significantly. With the cost of building a chip in effort and dollars, why risk so much to save so little.
USB 3.1 Certification – Super Important
Eric Esteve published an article on “Why USB 3.1 Certification is a “Must Have”?” in SemiWiki. Highly recommended reading.
The new DesignWare Technical Bulletin has just been published
This quarterly newsletter provides the latest information on DesignWare® IP including in-depth technical articles, whitepapers, videos, webinars and more. You can read the full newsletter online. Below are the USB focused articles which I highly recommend.
Just prior to that, I was managing 1394 (Firewire) and IrDA IP. My friend left the company, to go be a director of marketing elsewhere. USB was assigned to me. USB 2.0 took off in flash drives and storage. And here I am 16 years later.
USB is easy because USB is hard
As always we see lots of competition. USB seems easy because it’s easy for consumers. At times our customers and our competitors believe USB is easy.
It is not.
The fact is the USB-IF (through a program of strict compliance testing and logo certification) made USB super reliable. Many companies do not use the Logo. When they don’t, they still use the compliance tests, the equipment specified, and the procedures to test their products and cables and connectors.
Synopsys USB looks easy because:
- The Synopsys USB engineering team is truly outstanding.
- They work harder than any engineering team I’ve worked with
- Their effort and experience has made them (in my mind) the best USB engineers in the world
- Their execution is outstanding. (Not perfect, just outstanding)
Synopsys has been first in USB since USB 2.0
- First with a USB 2.0 Device in 1999
- First with USB 2.0 Host in 2001
- First with USB 2.0 OTG in 2003
- First with USB 2.0 PHYs
- First with USB 2.0 PHYs in lots of process nodes
- Billions of units of USB 2.0 shipped
- First with USB 2.0 Certifications (lots)
- First with USB 3.0 Device
- First with USB 3.0 xHCI Host
- First with USB 3.0 Dual Role Device and OTG
- First with USB 3.0 PHYs
- First with USB 3.0 PHYs in lots of process nodes
- 100s of millions of Units of USB 3.0 shipped
- First with USB 3.0 Certifications (lots)
- First with USB 3.1 controller IP
- First with USB 3.1 Gen 2 PHY IP
- First with Type C IP
- First with DisplayPort 1.3 Type C IP
- First with USB 3.1 Certification (not lots, not yet)
You can tell certifications are important because I said so. Lots.
(According to Mick this is humorous. I’m undecided on this point. I’ve added this bit as he can be quite entertaining and I trust it will be funny to at least one person)
In addition, we helped contribute and refine interfaces like UTMI+ and ULPI PHY interfaces. We contributed to the software register interfaces to standardize drivers like xHCI for the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 standard hosts.
Despite clear leadership over decades – With each new generation of buyers and engineers, we need to re-prove ourselves. I love this because it keeps us sharp. It keeps us working hard to prove we add value. Each thing we do to make the IP better, each feature has value.
As Synopsys, the people are the IP. The people make the USB good and provide the best support in the world. USB from hard work.
USB is easy because USB is hard.
For your entertainment, here’s a link to Conan O’Brian interviewing one of the co-creaters of USB, Ajay Bhatt.
It’s great to visit with our customer DisplayLink. They make these great chips with our USB and HDMI IP. They prototype on HAPS. They make great, fun useful products. I use a docking station that contains their chips. Here’s a video demonstration from last September showing the multi-OS support for Windows and MacOS (and other stuff).
We just published a new success story which covers how Inuitive used the DesignWare USB 3.0 IP (and other IP such as DDR, MIPI & Foundation) to help achieve first time silicon success for the NU3000 multi-core signal processor. Inuitive is a fabless semiconductor company. The NU3000 is a multi-core signal processor chip aimed to support 3D Image Processing and Computer Vision (CV) processing. NU3000 is the most advanced and optimized ASIC as of today in the market of 3D imaging and smart sensor HUB. The NU3000 aims to support new applications where 3D depth and computer vision is required. It can operate as a stand-alone device (Smart 3D sensor HUB) or be embedded into existing solutions as a co-processor for image processing and CV. Inuitive is first and the only one to offer a dedicated and complete 3D image processing and CV co-processor. Inuitive co-processor off-loads the main processor, thus reducing system response time, saving power and increasing performance. The NU3000 is optimized for mobile applications and markets, including: Virtual Reality Head Mount Displays, Augmented Reality glasses, smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Quote: Dor Zepeniuk, Vice President of R&D, Inuitive
The maturity and quality of the certified DesignWare USB 3.0 controller and USB femtoPHY is impressive, especially considering the complexity of the protocol and the IP solution’s small area and low power consumption.
This highlights the value the DesignWare IP brings to the table benefiting our customers. For our USB customers they specifically benefit from the following
Lowest Risk USB Solution Available
Controller and PHY interoperability validated across 1000’s of simulations and 100’s of hardware prototypes
Solution USB-IF certified by Synopsys 100’s of times, across over 120 process nodes and by 1000’s of customer products
Reliable USB operation in over 3000 designs, billions of products shipped
For 15+ years, 1st to achieve USB-IF solution certification from 180nm to 10nm
Supporting USB 1.1 to USB 3.1 Gen 2 including Type-C and DisplayPort Alt mode
Up to 50% smaller area lowers chip cost up to 3 cents compared to competitive solutions
Optimized solution yields up to 20% higher system performance with over 95% throughput efficiency
Up to 30% lower active state power and >97% hibernation power reduction extends battery life, reduces heat
Immediate productivity with USB IP prototyping kits accelerating software development and SoC bring up by 6 to 8 weeks
Save >3 months of SoC integration effort with preconfigured, easy to use & optimized deliverables
Fast worldwide USB IP support backed by 100s of USB experts
With all this you can see why the DesignWare USB IP is the IP of choice for implementing USB in todays designs.
Talking of Type-C, there is a great TechDesignForum article recently published titled “Implementing USB Type-C” : http://www.techdesignforums.com/practice/technique/implementing-usb-type-c/ A look at three design challenges for USB Type-C: implementing two SuperSpeed datapaths on a reversible connector; partitioning the design to support multiple USB Type-C variants; and partitioning the management software. I highly recommend it for anyone considering USB Type-C in their next design.
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USB – Greening the Earth with USB Type-C (and actual plants)
USB Type-C standardizes power across devices, across continents, across oceans.
USB Type-C will be the one and only standard for charging phones, tablets, cameras, wearables. It will be same in cars, homes, offices, and factories.
One connector, one cable.
For phones alone, switching to USB chargers will save on billions of chargers not going into landfills.
The EU chose USB as the standard in 2011.
But the microA/microB wasn’t universal enough. It was cheap but it was different on both ends. It wasn’t particularily durable. And it wasn’t really small enough for even the small Motorola flip phones that were so popular for awhile
Replacing the Micro A and Micro B connectors, Type C fulfills the requirement envisioned by the EU 5 years ago.
With Type-C it’s simple. The symmetry of the connector (flappable) and the cable (either end) makes it easy to use. It’s durability makes the connector usable for many, many more cycles reliably. The extra wires/pins/contacts future proof it for faster speeds, more lanes for more protocols.
So, one connector, future proofed, easy to use. Reusable (like good USB IP). Billions in chargers not going into landfills.
No Power Delivery needed
With power delivery you can even do more power, but you don’t need more power which was the purpose of my previous two entries
Click on “Accept” or “Yes” or whatever the dialogue box says.
Super Green USB – Bioo Lite
Another way USB is making the world green, is an actual PLANT generating the 5W you can use to charge your phone.
The plant somehow absorbs light and nutrients, creates a charge that can be used to charge a mobile phone a 1A, 5V. It’s almost too good to be true, since an actual Solar cell probably costs more than the bill of materials for this plant. Certainly cheaper than the Campfire activated USB charger for your phone.
Thanks to the huge consumer demand for increased safety, autonomous driving and improved luxury in vehicles the automotive SoC market is expected to grow at 6.7% CAGR between 2014 to 2019 (source IC Market Drivers, IC Insights Jan 2016).
The fastest growing segment is the Automated Driver Assistance System, ADAS, which is estimated to have a 25% CAGR `2014-2021 (source Trends and Opportunities In driver assistance and automated driving, HIS Automotive Sep 2015)
Synopsys’ automotive grade IP helps in the main three areas of functional safety, reliability and quality.
Functional Safety: Accelerate ISO 26262 functional safety assessments to help ensure designers reach target ASIL levels
Reliability: Reduce risk and development time for AEC-Q100 qualification of SoCs
Quality: Meet quality levels required for automotive applications
As you can see above, the DesignWare USB IP solution is one of the many IP’s supporting automotive applications. For the popular ADAS designs, USB is used for things like initial programming, debug, firmware update but more importantly as the main input/output for more complex sensors. MIPI I3C will also be used for this function but in the cases where higher bandwidth and more complex interaction is required, USB 3.1 Gen1 (USB 3.0) is the interface of choice.
In addition to USB being used in ADAS, USB is of course also a key interface for Infotainment SoC’s. The infotainment SoC needs to support connection to a selection of input & outputs such as the navigation system and user capabilities. Its common now to have the user plug in a USB Stick or USB enables smartphone delivering both media and charging. Today this is mostly audio but in the not too distant future we will see this same connection supporting all sorts of input/output such as additional live traffic and video across the new USB Type-C with DisplayPort alt mode.
I expect to see the use of USB in automotive applications to increase as it’s simply the most prolific and ubiquitous interface providing the designers and end uses with the greatest flexibility for use and expansion.
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I’ve personally been using USB for an automotive application for years. I have a USB Scope to help diagnose issue with the engine in my race cars.
Have a look at these pictures and see if you can guess what the snap shot is of and diagnose the issue with my race car?
Well for those of you how are mechanically minded I expect you quickly guessed that this is a picture of the top of one of the engines pistons.
It’s not supposed to have that HUGE crack and chunk missing. Lets just say that when this piston broke the engine didn’t run so well and created a smoke screen that any James Bond like spy would have been proud of.
Here is a picture of my Subaru race car in the shop, AKA my garage, for a lot of tender loving maintenance. I have many, many hours of work in front of me to get the car track ready again
Recently I blogged on the relationships between USB Type-C, USB 3.1, Power Delivery and DisplayPort specifications. In my last blog I simplified the view focusing on the important and latest specifications. I think the simplified view answer most designer’s questions but there are still a few that like to see the full history and complex interactions. The below image, click to enlarge, provides a more detailed view of the different specifications, timeline representation and relationships.
BC = Battery Charging
PD = Power Delivery
HSIC = High Speed Inter Chip
SSIC = Super Speed inter Chip
DP = DisplayPort
USB = Well if you don’t know what this means why are you reading my blog?
A little commentary on the above representation focusing on the more recent changes. The USB 2.0 specification included everything from the USB 1.1 specification. When the SuperSpeed USB aka USB 3.0 specification was published in 2008, this covered SuperSpeed only so both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 specs needed to be referenced. The USB 3.0 specification was updated to USB 3.1 in 2013, adding SuperSpeedPlus or USB SuperSpeed 10Gbps capability. In 2014, multiple ECNs (Engineering Change Notices or spec changes and/or clarifications) for USB 3.1 were published. The avid reader would also find two additional specifications; USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery 2.0, a significant update of USB Power Delivery 1.0. Both these specs also received significant updates in 2015, and a new USB Debug Device Class specification was added at the same time. The Debug Device specification ties in and relates to multiple new specifications and updates that were recently published by MIPI, including Gigabit Debug for USB, Trace Wrapper Protocol, SneekPeek Protocol and System Trace Protocol. Surprisingly for most readers, the USB Debug Device Class does not relate to the USB Debug Accessory appendix that was added to the USB 3.1 spec in 2016.
Both USB Type-C and Power Delivery specs have already been updated in 2016, along with a new appendix for USB 3.1 repeaters. Synopsys is a USB-IF contributor. The 2016 spec bundle also includes USB Type-C Authentication specification that ties into both the USB Type-C and Power Delivery specifications, with future implications for USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 devices and hosts.
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To add to the spec ensemble, the Type-C Port Controller Interface spec was published in 2015. The final pieces of the puzzle can be found in the USB Type-C DisplayPort Alternate Mode specification. However, this specification was not published by USB-IF. DisplayPort Alternate mode spec is owned and published by VESA in 2014 and updated in 2015. DisplayPort 1.2a, 1.3 and 1.4 in addition to Display Stream Compression specs are required reading in addition to the DisplayPort Alt Mode spec.
The above represents a flood of specs that add up to thousands of pages where misinterpreting even a single comma, number or part of a sentence can mean the difference between compliance or not. Worst case even between working or not. This is why I simplified the view in the previous blog and why I recommend the DesignWare USB IP as then you don’t have to worry about any of this as we do.
Do you want to know more about USB Type-C and DisplayPort Alt mode?
If yes I highly recommend the recent web seminar on Successful SoC Implementation of USB Type-C and DisplayPort Alt Mode. USB Type-C is the fastest adopted USB standard to date. Designers are busy adding Type-C capability to existing products and requesting SoC designers to add native USB Type-C support in next-generation SoCs. The main advantage for users of the USB Type-C connector is the flippability of the connector. One small and robust connector for data, video and power is advantageous for portable products, and appreciated by end-users if implemented properly. However, USB Type-C implementation is non-trivial and specification updates are frequent.
This webinar discusses how to integrate USB Type-C and DisplayPort controllers and PHY IP in your next SoC. This includes solving the hardware and software partitioning challenges for an efficient, flexible and successful USB Type-C implementation. We will also provide a brief overview of Synopsys’ DesignWare® USB-C/DisplayPort IP solution which integrates USB Type-C, USB 3.1 and DisplayPort 1.3 interfaces with High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) 2.2.
Attend this webinar to learn about:
How Alt Mode affects SoC design
How to implement the Type-C Port Controller to address multiple SoC design challenges
Effective software partitioning for the Type-C Port Manager
Challenges and solutions to implementing the USB and DisplayPort datapath switch
Creating a cost, power, area and performance-optimized USB Type-C design
Who should attend?
Design engineers, design managers, and system architects who are interested in implementing USB Type-C in their next SoC