To USB or Not to USB
  • About

    Covering the latest trends and topics in USB IP.

    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.

USB is easy because USB is hard (made by hard working engineers)

Posted by Eric Huang on May 23rd, 2016

Back in the 20th century, my first meeting meeting as USB PMM was with Mr. Ed Beeman in December 1999.   In May, 2000, We demonstrated our USB 2.0 Device controller IP in an HP ScanJet scanner.  One of the very first demonstrations in an actual product.

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).

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Posted in USB | No Comments »

Learn How Inuitive Achieved First-Pass Silicon Success for NU3000 Multi-Core Signal Processor with DesignWare USB 3.0

Posted by Michael Posner on May 13th, 2016


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.

Image of the Inuitive NU3000 from http://inuitive-tech.com/technology-2/


The challenges that Inuitive faced

  • Develop and deploy a complex multi-core 3D sensing engine for mobile devices
  • Acquire proven IP to reduce risk on standard interfaces and accelerate time-to-market
  • Meet stringent power, performance and area objectives

Inuitive selected the following DesignWare IP to help solve these challenges

The results

  • Achieved first-pass silicon success under extreme time and market pressure
  • Reduced design risk with broad portfolio of silicon-proven DesignWare IP
  • Met requirements for low power, small area, and high performance while ensuring interoperability with multiple image sensors
  • Received responsive technical support from a local team

Read the complete success story here

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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Posted in MIPI, Success Stories, SuperSpeed USB, Type C, USB 3.0, USB 3.0 Adoption, USB 3.0 Device, USB 3.0 Performance, USB 3.0 PHY, USB 3.0 Products, USB Certification, USB IP, USB-C | No Comments »

USB Type-C – Greener every day (and why you don’t need USB Power Delivery)

Posted by Eric Huang on May 6th, 2016

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

USB Type-C: More Power – Part 1

USB Type-C: More Power – Part 2

before Mick’s other two entries, (both useful, though lacking in snail jokes)).

The point of those two entries is this:

What’s great about this for our USB Type C solution, is that you can use our PHYs and controllers “as-is” and do Type C without any additional chips to implement USB Type C for USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1.*

You don’t need extra Power Delivery chips.

You just need our PHY and our controller.*

With Type-C you get 15W of power for faster charging. For most devices (phones, tablets, battery chargers, camera chargers) this is all the power you need.

Charging 3.3x faster than USB 3.0 at 4.5W and 7.5x faster than USB 2.0 at 2.5W.

(This is where one of my friends emails me to correct me).

*This is for pure USB 2.0, 3.0, or 3.1. No Alternate Modes like DisplayPort.

*For USB 2.0, you can use a couple of resistors on the PCB. For USB 3.0 and 3.1 in a few cases you might need more.  Those secrets are for those who are, our customers.

Power Delivery, which is getting lots of press, is really only needed for PCs, super tablets, docking stations and monitors.  Stuff with big batteries.  These can take advantage of Power Delivery.

So don’t be fooled, you don’t need Power Delivery, unless you need Power Delivery.


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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.

As close to Wireless Charging as you can get.

USB Plant with 5 Watts of power

5 Volts and 1 AMP


More Cookie Monster

Out takes with John Oliver


Cookie Monster – Ideas for John Oliver


Snail Jokes (2)

A snail walks into a bank to make a deposit. Then a turtle comes in and robs the bank.

Afterward, the police are interviewing the snail and asks him to recount what had happened, The snail says, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast!”

What’s the difference between a politician and a snail? One is slimy, a pest and leaves a trail everywhere, and the other is a snail.

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Posted in Type C, USB 3.1, USB Power, USB Power Delivery, USB-C | 3 Comments »

USB in Automotive Applications

Posted by Michael Posner on April 29th, 2016

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 already enables automotive SoC’s by providing a comprehensive portfolio of DesignWare IP tailored to the needs of the automotive industry. The DesignWare IP accelerates qualification of automotive SoC’s by providing ASIL B/D Ready IP with AEC-Q100 Testing and TS 16949 Quality Management targeting ADAS, infotainment and MCU applications.


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.

USB Scope

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 :(


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Posted in 10G USB, Everyday USB, iPhone, Mobile Phone, SuperSpeed USB, Type C, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB Power, Mobile Phones, Tablets, USB Video, USB-C, USB-IF | No Comments »

Relationships Between USB Specs, Part Two & Where to Learn more about Type-C and DisplayPort alt mode

Posted by Michael Posner on April 22nd, 2016

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.

USB Spec Relationship in full

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

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Posted in DisplayPort, State of USB, SuperSpeed USB, Type C, USB, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0 and 3D, USB 3.0 Device, USB 3.0 Host, USB 3.0 IP, USB 3.0 PHY, USB 3.0 Pricing, USB 3.0 Products, USB 3.1, USB 3.10, USB Certification, USB IP, USB Only, USB Power, USB Power Delivery, USB Power, Mobile Phones, Tablets, USB-C, USB-IF | No Comments »

Relationships Between USB Specs

Posted by Michael Posner on April 15th, 2016

Welcome to Factual Friday.

This week I wanted to clarify, with accuracy, the relationships between USB Type-C, USB 3.1, Power Delivery and DisplayPort specifications. If you are designing the USB portion of your latest and greatest product then understanding these relationships is critical to ensure you are developing against the right set of specs. Of course if you are just integrating the DesignWare USB Solution IP into your design then you really don’t have to worry about this complexity as we’ve done the worrying for you, however I bet you still find this interesting. Thanks to Morten Christiansen, Synopsys’ USB technical expert, for the background data which enabled me to write this blog.

Trust me, this is the simple version, I might have been a little wordy… never me….

So to begin with, here is the simplified view of the relationship between the latest USB specifications and the linkages to the MIPI and VESA specs. Click the image for the larger view.

Relationships Between USB Specs

Starting in the middle you have the popular USB specifications with the classic USB 1.1 and the ubiquitous USB 2.0, aka Hi-Speed USB, at the bottom. There are related specifications supporting USB Charger detection, confusingly called Battery Charging but trust me it was part of the now defunct USB Power Delivery 1.0 specification. While USB 3.1, with blazingly fast transfer speeds, has been in the news more lately, USB 2.0 is far from its end of life. USB 2.0 is still used across products in multiple market segments and recently has become hot, hot, hot for use in the Internet of Things (IoT) products. Within IoT the benefit of USB 2.0 is that it supports the data transfer needs, internal connectivity, manufacturing and test, recovery modes, debug as well as of course power delivery for portable devices. The race to get the next killer IoT product to the market has driven the creation of a new breed of DesignWare USB IP (USB 2.0 and the classic USB 2.0 Full Speed aka USB 1.1), specifically customized to the need of the IoT product with a focused feature set and greater ease of use for rapid integration. This new solution is the lowest risk USB IP of choice delivering highest quality, reliability across Process, Voltage and Temperature variants with a support infrastructure you can trust.

Moving up the USB chain (in time) you encounter the USB 3.0 specification, aka SuperSpeed USB which introduced the 5 Gb/s data transfer rate. USB 3.0 SuperSpeed was designed to offer this higher data transfer speed to devices that needed it as well as maintaining backward compatibility with USB 2.0 to ensure interoperability and a smooth technology transition. Helping designers transition to USB 3.0 is the DesignWare USB IP which reduces the impact to the SoC by delivering up to 50% smaller area, lowest power consumption while maintaining the highest performance operation. Using the DesignWare USB 3.0 IP can save you three months or more of effort.

Now as we get to USB 3.1, aka SuperSpeed 10Gbps, (aka SuperSpeedPlus) things start to get a little more complex. The first is that there is a Gen1 and a Gen2 USB 3.1. USB 3.1 Gen1 defines the 5Gb/s data transfer rate, the same as the older USB 3.0 specification. The USB 3.1 Gen2 introduces the SuperSpeedPlus data transfer rate of 10 Gb/s, a 2x improvement. But USB 3.1 Gen 2 also introduces a slew of other capabilities such as improved data encoding for more efficient data transfer, higher through-put and improved I/O power efficiency. Again the USB-IF thought about backward compatibility and defined USB 3.1 to be backward compatible with USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen1) and amazingly USB 2.0. Synopsys mirrored this in our DesignWare USB IP by making the programing interface compatible across DesignWare USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.0 IP solutions meaning you can use the same software drivers. You can again trust Synopsys’ IP solution as proven by the fact that we, Synopsys, were the first to receive full USB-IF certification.

Next up is USB Type-C aka, USB-C. This is typically where confusion starts as it’s mixed up with USB 3.1 and I’ve blogged on this topic before. Summarizing, USB Type-C defines a connector standard while the USB 3.1 defines a technology standard. USB Type-C was designed to support USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, which you can see represented in the above diagram. It’s the USB Type-C specification which intersects with MIPI and VESA.

The USB Type-C specification linkage with MIPI is based around efficient debug which has been driven by the MIPI Debug Working Group. The direct intersect is Gigabit Debug for USB which is built on top of the MIPI Trace wrapper and System Trace, SneakPeek specifications. Here is a great article on SneakPeek, Gigabit Trace Framework and Gigabit debug for USB. Look out for a White Paper from Synopsys soon. Formally, MIPI Debug does not require USB Type-C but there are additional MIPI specification developments and the recent USB Debug Accessory spec that makes Type-C the connector of choicefor debug.

The USB Type-C specification linkage to VESA is driven by what is commonly known as “DisplayPort alt mode” which is DisplayPort running over USB Type-C. The latest DisplayPort specification defines up to 8K at 60 Hz A/V performance which require DisplayPort PHY’s similar to USB 3.1 Gen2, 10 Gb/s performance. Synopsys already provides an IP solution supporting these latest specifications, USB 3.1 Type-C with DisplayPort.

Hopefully at this point you can see that there are individual specifications for USB, DisplayPort and debug and that it’s the USB Type-C specification where they intersect. Even with this USB-C can be used separately for USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 or these can be used without the USB Type-C, but who in the world would do that…..

Finally sprouting out of the top of USB Type-C is the new USB Power Delivery 2.0 and the Port Controller Specifications. However searching for a Type-C Port Controller (HW) Specification gives no results. Nor is there a corresponding Type-C Port Manager (SW) specification. Only the HW/SW interface is specified since the HW specification is inherent from the Type-C spec. Some of the SW spec is inherent from Type-C, USB 3.1 and Power Delivery specification…….

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Seems simple doesn’t it. Just remember this is the simplified version and might have brushed over some of the details. I like to say “Don’t let thetechnical details get in the way of a good story”. I say this and others by the way, see here. In this case I’ve presented technical accuracy but have brushed over the multitudes of other spec’s that string along with USB.

I’ve been building a Van de Graaff Generator at home and I must admit I’m happy with the way it’s turned out. Check out the 4-6″ sparks I can generate. The 2nd picture is a little grainy but I love the plasma spark vs. the full on lightening effect.

Mick;s Van de Graaff Generator in full effect

Mick;s Home Made Van de Graaff Generator

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Posted in 10G USB, IoT, IP, SuperSpeed USB, Type C, USB, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB Power, USB Power Delivery, USB-C | No Comments »

State of USB Spring 2016 – Part 3 (and Snail Jokes) (and Cookie Monster)

Posted by Eric Huang on April 8th, 2016

State of USB Spring 2016 – Part 3  (and Snail Jokes)

This blog will focus on Storage and USB 3.1. Storage and Snail Jokes.  Jokes you can’t get anywhere else on the internet.

Unless you search for them.

USB 3.1 Gen 2 for High Capacity External Storage

Seagate launched the (industry’s (I’d say universe’s) first* external, bus powered USB 8 TB GB* drive.  This means the only cable connected to the drive is the USB cable. All the power is provided by the connected PC (or DVR or TV).  There isn’t an additional dedicated power cable needed

*Update April 12, 2016 – I say industry’s first because I looked for one on the internet and couldn’t find a single disk, USB external drive of 8 TB is size.  There are 8TB RAID systems with multiple drives but not single drive, single USB cable versions, as far as I can tell. With the help of Google.


The size of the drive, meaning 3.5 inch platter, multiple platters, means more power is needed to spin up the drive.  USB 3.1 provides that power, and Type C ensures enough power (for more on this check the previous 2 posts)



So more power with Type-C enables a single cable, USB powered 8 TB drive.

USB 3.1 Gen 2 for Fast External Storage

For USB 3.1 SSDs, you can build your own.

Looking at Amazon I found 2 examples.

The first example lets you plug in any super fast SATA 3 drive and make it a drive outside your PC, that is just as fast to access as the drive inside your PC.   So you could build at 1 TB, USB 3.1 drive for about 230 dollars for the 1 TB SSD, and about 25 bucks for the SSD enclosure.  That external drive will operate just as fast as an internal SATA drive.  And it fits in your pocket.

USB 3.1 Gen 2 for SATA SSD

So if you have a powerful ultrathin PC that has a small SSD inside, you can store all your videos for editing outside the PC.  You can use the power of the processor for editing and accessing the videos on the external drive that you built.  This gives you the best of both worlds: An ultrathin portable PC and when you are sitting around at home, a way to quickly edit your videos without them taking up lots of space on your laptop’s limited SSD.

You can even build a smaller mSATA based drive to reduce the carrying size/weight of the drive.  So it fits in a smaller pocket.

USB 3.1 Gen 2 for mSATA SSD

For fun, before the snail jokes, here’s the best mobile phone commercial in the universe.

The best mobile phone commercial ever with Cookie Monster


Behind the scenes with Cookie Monster and Siri


And Cookie Monster turns to fruit


Snail Jokes

Joke 0

Whats the difference between a politician and a snail? One is slimy, a pest and leaves a trail everywhere, and the other is a snail.

Joke 1

What did the snail say when he jumped on the turtle’s back? “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

Joke 2

A snail walks into a bank to make a deposit. Then a turtle comes in and robs the bank. Afterward, the police are interviewing the snail and asks him to recount what had happened. The snail says, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast.”

Joke 3

A farmer hears a knock at his door late one winter’s night. He opens his door, looks around and looks down and there, at his doorstep, is a snail. The snail says, “Can I come in, I’m really coooooold?”
The Farmer says, “No, get outta here you stupid snail,” and kicks him across the garden.
Spring comes, then summer then fall and before you know it, it’s winter again, The farmer hears a knock on his door. He opens the door, looks around and sees that same snail from last year, who says, “What did you do that for?”

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Posted in 10G USB, Type C, USB 3.1, USB-C | Comments Off

USB Type-C is Here – Are You Ready?

Posted by Michael Posner on April 1st, 2016

Dozens of products are now shipping with the USB Type-C connector, making it the fastest adopted USB-IF standard and likely to be in your next USB-enabled SoC. Read on to learn about implementing USB 3.1 and USB Type-C in SoCs and how DesignWare® USB IP can help you get your products to market faster.

Type-C-MontageIndustry News: USB Type-C is the Only Way to Access Sandisk’s Speedy New Pen Drive (digitaltrends.com) SanDisk, like many other storage manufacturers out there, sees the writing on the wall: people really like USB Type-C.

More News: More good news for USB Type-C adoption is that Amazon has added faulty USB-C cables to a list of banned items: http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-threatens-to-banish-anyone-selling-dodgy-usb-c-cables/ There are serious repercussion for vendors caught selling bad cables.

Q&A: What’s Behind the Blazingly Fast Adoption of USB Type-C? (Electronic Design) The USB 3.1 Type-C connector is having a major impact on system design because of its flexibility. Its high-speed interface support brings design challenges along with advanced features and high throughput.

Technical Article: Implementing USB Type-C in High-Speed USB Products Many of the initial products using the Type-C connector run at the USB high-speed rate of 480 Mbps. This article will help designers who plan to convert existing high-speed USB products to support USB Type-C.

White Paper: Addressing Three Critical Challenges of USB Type-C Implementation

On-Demand Webinar: Designing SoCs for USB Type-C Products

Press Releases:

Finally another article on Amazon clamping down on dodgy USB-C cables: http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/03/29/amazon-updates-its-policies-to-ban-usb-type-c-cables-that-are-not-fully-spec-compliant/ The new text under prohibited items reads as follows.

Any USB-C™ (or USB Type-C™) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc

Great going Amazon, this will help USB consumers as USB Type-C increases in adoption.

USB Type-C: Don’t Hesitate, Integrate

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As some of you know I am a bit of a maker, as in I like to build things. Past projects include remote controlled tracked vehicles with full suspension, crane and conveyor belt toys as well as multiple old school gaming consoles. Well recently I visited OMSI and played with a Van De Graaff Generator, VDG for short. It was fun so I thought I should build one at home as a science project. Here is the end result of prototype #1

Mick's home build Van de Graaff Generator

It took me about 10 hours to complete the project and for a first attempt it works pretty well with the ability to generate between 1-2 inch sparks.

Here is a very short video of the Van de Graaff Generator in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOS-ZD93CQs (also embedded below) Watch in HD as the spark jumps very quickly and you will miss it if you blink.

This weekend I plan to start on revision 2 of the design. The rubber belt on prototype #1 is reducing the efficiency of the generator. I found some better belt material but it requires almost a complete re-build of the VDG’s innards. If successful I am hoping for 2-3 inch size sparks from the unit and a far more hair raising experience :) Oh and you probably don’t want to mix electronics with a VDG….

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Posted in Type C, USB-C, USB-IF | Comments Off

USB Type-C: More Power – Part 2

Posted by Eric Huang on March 25th, 2016

USB Fans,

It’s great when our 33,000+ readers send us email. We feel our friends read and enjoy our blog in addition to our competitors. (Hi Competitors!)

Chris Yokum, USB expert at Total Phase sent me educational email (and one compliment on elephant jokes).  He explains more precisely, more technically what Type C can/will do to deliver power.

I’ve included it verbatim to save me time, and also because I think it’s easier to follow than my actual blog writing.

Type-C with Chris Yokum of Totalphase


From: “Chris Yokum” at Total Phase
To: “Eric Huang”
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 9:59:06 PM
Subject: Type-C Default Current

Hi Eric – saw your blog, had a note to provide privately! :)

Look at Type-C 1.1 Table 4-13. Putting a 56Kohm pull-up on the DFP’s CC will indicate to the UFP that the DFP (Host) can provide only “Default” power, aka 900mA for USB3.0. Not a mandatory minimum of 7.5W, it’s still a possibility for Type-C to provide 4.5W or 2.5 even..

There’s a possibility to declare higher capability but devices aren’t guaranteed more. There’s possibility to also negotiate higher using PD, but that’s far beyond minimal Type-C..

I’m that comic book store owner on the Simpsons who… ahm.

How are you?


(Chris’s Mobile Phone number deleted to protect the elephants)

On Mar 19, 2016, at 1:00 PM, Chris Yokum
From: “Chris Yokum” at Total Phase

Incredible elephant jokes, btw. thanks!

From: “Eric Huang”
To: “Chris Yokum”  at Total Phase
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2016 7:47:55 PM
Subject: Re: Type-C Default Current

Do you mean that you don’t have to provide the higher power but you can provide the power without PD?   (Text deleted to protect the reader from Eric’s ignorance.  No elephant jokes deleted so no need for concern.)


From: Chris Yokum [mailto:cyokum@totalphase.com]
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2016 9:06 PM
To: Eric Huang <Eric.Huang@synopsys.com>
Subject: Re: Type-C Default Current

Hi Eric,

The fundamental tidbit for this is that “A Type-C connector is legal even if it only provides legacy USB power” – that’s why I emailed about your blog :)

You aren’t guaranteed more than a Type-A provided just because it’s Type-C. What Type-C brings is the option itself for higher advertisement (either simply via the pull-up resistor or in more complex cases by PD negotiation) and for the negotiation of complex power scenarios..

The answer to your question is “yes”

A port has an initial power capability advertisement through its pullup resistor (Rp) then (optionally) it can do a PD negotiation further. That initial power could be 15W, but the minimum is much less.

Does that help?



Eric’s Conclusion:  Type-C can provide up to 15W, but apparently isn’t guaranteed to.   It does mean the wall charger you buy with Type C can be rated up to 15W and be relatively inexpensive.  For other sources of charging (like your PC) it can vary depending on the manufacturer’s implementation.  Higher power is communicated through the use of a pull-up resister on the Host side.

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Elephant Jokes

Courtesy of Alex Shishkoff, outstanding FAE at Synopsys

From: Alex Shishkoff
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 1:05 PM
To: Eric Huang
Subject: Elephant jokes…
Importance: Low (You got that right)

You probably have these, but it gives me an excuse to type lame jokes.

(First 2 jokes deleted to protect elephants)

Q: What did Tarzan say when he saw a herd of elephants in the distance?
A: “Look, a herd of elephants in the distance!”

Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw a herd elephants wearing sunglasses?
A. Nothing, he did not recognize them.

Q. Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
A. So they can hide in cherry trees.

Q: Why do elephants hide in cherry trees?
A: So they can jump out and stomp on people.

Q: How did Tarzan die?
A: Picking cherries.

Underlined text is text I’ve inserted to improve the flow of the elephant jokes.

As if that was possible.

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Posted in 10G USB, Type C, USB-C | Comments Off

USB Type-C: More Power – Part 1

Posted by Eric Huang on March 18th, 2016

USB Type-C makes USB so awesome you can read about how it makes the world a greener place in Scientific American.


Or you can read a dazzlingly scintilating article here

(The meat of this article is below this section, and before the Elephant Jokes, so skip this section if you don’t care about the history of USB power and it’s problems.)

USB Charging before USB 3.1 (That means USB 3.1 Gen 1 or USB 3.0 Reborn)

USB 3.0 doubled the amount of power you could draw from 500mA at 5V to 900mA at 5V, or from 2.5W to 4.5 W.

Okay almost doubled

The best feature with 4.5W: With 4.5W you could power up and spin a DVD drive or a hard drive without a separate power cable.

Pretty neat.  This enabled the sale of portable terabyte hard drives that you could back up your entire (mostly) legally obtained digital content and carry it around with you.

With falling prices of NAND flash for SSDs and thumb drives, it will all be SSDs, so you don’t need the power any more.


You can use 3.0 power to power portable LCD screens

These (by the way) use a DisplayLink chip which just happens to use Synopsys USB 3.0 controller and PHY IP.

AOC USB 3.0 Powered Monitor with DisplayLink chip inside

See more products like this here: http://www.displaylink.com/products/usb-monitors

The problem with USB power with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

For power the biggest problem with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 reborn is the power provided is not/was not guaranteed.
If you plugged a USB peripheral into a host (a PC, game system, or TV) there was no guarantee of the power provided.  Only the possibility.

On the other side, many (possibly most) hosts had no control (or didn’t regulate) how much power a peripheral could draw.  It could be possible for mobile phone charging from a laptop host port, could fast charge and drain the laptop battery rapidly by drawing more power than it should even based on USB standards.  At the same time, a smart laptop maker could reduce the power draw or regulate it to protect the battery.

USB Type-C starts down the path of fixing this.


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USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C

For USB Type-C, the power is now 3x (actually 3x this time) more than USB 3.0.

Power is guaranteed to be 7.5 Watts or 15 Watts. (This is up from the 4.5W of USB 3.0 Reborn)

This is from the increased amperage at the same 5 V, so 1.5 A or 3.0 A at 5V.

This is a bunch of power.  It means your mobile phone, tablet, or PC could charge faster.

So you might ask: My PC only needs 15W?

The answer is we can expect continued convergence between tablets and PCs, with processors needing/using less and less power.  The iPads and tablets of today actually only charge at 5-10W.  So with 15W, they charge even faster.

The point is, Type-C can be used to charge and drive the bulk of devices people use today.

And will continue to be useful as we build more power efficient products.

Power with Type C and PD

Part 2 will be after Mick Posner’s Epic blog entry next week. Possibly after 2 of Mick’s Epic Blogs.

USB 5.0 Today’s Elephant Jokes

Q: What do you get if you cross an elephant with a kangaroo?
A: Big holes all over Australia.

Q: What kind of elephants live at the North Pole?
A: Cold ones.

Q: What’s convenient and weighs 20,000 pounds?
A: An elephant six-pack.

Q: How do elephants talk to each other?
A: By ’elephone.

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Posted in 10G USB, Type C, USB Power, USB Power Delivery, USB-C | Comments Off