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 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+ USB, (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 SuperSpeed+ 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 ongoing specification developments that will make Type-C the connector of choice for 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 meaning it requires the 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 | No Comments »

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 | No Comments »

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 | No Comments »

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 | No Comments »

Hot Topic of the week, the Samsung S7 does not have a USB Type-C port

Posted by Michael Posner on March 11th, 2016

The internet is all a buzz this week with news of the Samsung flagship S7 mobile phone. Yes it’s a beautiful phone packed to the brim with super features but sadly NO USB Type-C! instead the Samsung S7 has a Micro USB, old school to say the least.

Many are asking the question why no Type-C, including me, and the following article goes into great detail on a number of reasons as explained by Shoneel Kolhatkar, senior director of marketing at Samsung. http://www.techradar.com/us/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/samsung-galaxy-s7-why-doesn-t-it-have-usb-c-1315568

Here is my take on the main reasons sighted.

#1 Support for the Samsung Gear VR

Ok, so this, in my opinion, is a legitimate and customer focused decision. The Samsung Gear VR only supports the Micro USB connector and if Samsung had moved to the new and better USB Type-C connector they would have left their existing Gear VR customers in a hole. This decision also mutually benefits Samsung as customers can purchase the new S7 and the Gear VR.

#2 The market is NOT ready for Type-C

Nope, I don’t buy this one. (English slang, I do not think that this is a legitimate reason). The Thunderbolt 3 chips shipping today support USB Type-C, manufacturers of laptops Acer, Dell, and HP ship 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Type-C as standard in mainstream PCs. Chromebook Pixel 2015 platforms support Type-C. The HP Envy has two USB-C ports with USB 3.1 Gen 2.  Watch this cool video, you can clearly see the 2 ports in the video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PMp5VrCFU0 . Many of the above models use the SkyLake chipset supporting 10 Gbps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, DisplayPort 1.3a, and Thunderbolt 3. There are many USB Type-C accessories, just search on amazon and you will find a HUGE list. I draw the conclusion that in fact the market and you the consumer, is ready for USB Type-C.

Check out last weeks blog for more USB market trend details: https://blogs.synopsys.com/tousbornottousb/2016/03/04/synopsys-first-and-only-to-certify-10g-usb-3-1-gen-2-ip-and-the-state-of-usb-spring-2016/

#3 We already support Fast Charging

OK, another legitimate but pretty weak reason. I say weak as USB Type-C increases the power delivery available to 15W (from 7.5W) in a standardized method. If the Samsung S7 supported Type-C the user could use any available Type-C charger.

I’m in two minds if I think Samsung made the right or wrong decision on continuing to use Micro USB vs. moving to the better USB Type-C.

Interestingly I am not the only one that feels like this, no USB Type-C is listed as the dislikes of the phone in this article: http://www.stuff.tv/features/five-things-we-love-about-galaxy-s7-and-five-were-not-so-keen .

The good news is that Samsung recognizes the need for USB Type-C in the future as noted at the end of the techradar article.

MICK’s prediction: Samsung will deliver devices which support USB 3.1 with DP 1.3 in the future. Why do I think this? USB 3.1 with DP 1.3 enables a single cable solution supporting blazing fast transfer rates, fast charging and DisplayPort capabilities. This combination supports connections to high-definition (HD), 2K, 4K, and 8K Ultra High Definition (UHD) display from mobile devices and other applications requiring fast data transfer and output of high-resolution content. This is what the consumer wants in their next high end smartphone. A device that can connect to a TV directly and play video content. The same device will connect to a hub with a keyboard, mouse, monitor and storage for an ultra-portable workhorse. Well, this is what I want anyway.

Would you have liked the Samsung S7 to have a USB Type-C port? Let me know via the comments below.

What capabilities are you looking for in the future? Let me know via the comments below.


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Finally, good news, the mason bees have started to emerge for their short season

Hello little mason bee

Look closely at the picture, you can just see the mason bee chewing his way out of his muddy hole. Exciting! (Yes it’s a “he”. They are the first to emerge and you can tell them apart from the females as the males have a white tuft of hair on their cute little heads)

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Posted in 10G USB, 3DTV, 4K Video, Apple, DisplayPort, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, PC Chipset, Smartphone, State of USB, Thunderbolt, Type C, USB Power, USB Power Delivery, USB Power, Mobile Phones, Tablets, USB-C | 1 Comment »

Synopsys – First and Only to Certify 10G USB 3.1 Gen 2 IP and the State of USB – Spring 2016

Posted by Eric Huang on March 4th, 2016

I’m super excited to announce we certified our 10 Gigabit per second USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller and PHY IP.  (One month ago.) (When Mick blogged about it right here)

It’s exciting for us to be first (again) for USB 3.1 as we have been first with

  • USB 2.0 Host
  • USB 2.0 Device
  • USB 2.0 PHY
  • USB 3.0 Device
  • USB 3.0 xHCI Host
  • USB 3.0 PHY
  • And PHYs in every process node for years.

For our customers, it means LOWER RISK with certified IP.

It’s lower risk because we’ve been working on the IP for 1-2 years with the USB-IF and early adopters before most customers start the designs.   Being first helps our customers get better IP. It lowers their risk so customers can spend time enhancing the rest of their product.

Testing means the USB 3.1 controller and PHY must past tests to

  • Go 10 Gigabits per second
  • Support new USB 3.1 Gen 2 features
  • Interoperate with the USB 3.0 and 2.0 hosts and
  • Interoperate with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Gold tree with USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0), USB 2.0, and USB 1.1 peripherals.

This means our customers have started designing now for products that will ship in mass production in 2018 and 2019.  They’ve started their designs because USB 3.1 Gen 2 is now mainstream in laptops and PCs.

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State of USB – Spring 2016 – USB 3.1 Gen 2 Market Update

The biggest manufacturers of laptops Acer, Dell, and HP ship 10 Gbps USB 3.1 in standard in mainstream PCs.

16 Spring USB 31 Adoption

For Ultra-Thin and portable notebooks, the popular ones people actually buy support 10 Gigabit per second USB 3.1 Gen 2.

The Dell XPS 13 and 15 model has USB 3.1 Gen 2. http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-13-9350-laptop/pd

The HP Envy has 2 USB-C ports with USB 3.1 Gen 2.  Watch a cool video here. You can clearly see the 2 ports in the video.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PMp5VrCFU0

The above models use the SkyLake chipset supporting 10 Gbps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, DisplayPort 1.3a, and Thunderbolt 3.

Acer has standard models also.   I’m not sure if they use the SkyLake chipset or the ASMedia chip.

So what can you connect these fancy new 10 Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 notebook computers to?

At least 3 new storage devices.

The LaCie portable USB 3.1 Gen 2 SSD.

The SanDisk Disk Extreme 900 which gets, well 900 Megabytes per second (9 Gigabits per second).  You can buy this great drive with up to 1.92 Terabytes of storage.

For smaller, even more portable (and easily lost) flash drives, you can purchase the Kingston HyperX Savage USB 3.1 Flash Drive.

USB 3.1 is more mainstream as USB 3.1 has continued to get cheaper and cheaper.   Expect that once it’s gets fully integrated and the discrete chip cost goes from $3-$6 to integrated for zero dollars, our customers will be shipping in volume great products, ready to be delivered to a market desperate for USB 3.1 products.

Your Elephant Jokes for the week.

Q: How does an astronomer catch an elephant?
A: With a telescope, a matchbox, and a pair of tweezers. Go to the jungle, and when you see an elephant, turn the telescope the wrong way around and look through it. The elephant will now be so small that you can pick it up with the tweezers and put it in the matchbox.

Q: How does a programmer catch an elephant?
A: Fly to Cape Town and head east. When you reach the ocean, go slightly north and head west. Keep repeating this until you see an elephant, then grab it.

Q: How does an experienced programmer catch an elephant?
A: The same way; but before you start, you place an elephant at Gibraltar, so you won’t fall into the Mediterranean if there are no elephants.

Correction from Morten on March 4 16:26: the Elephant should be placed in Tangier or Tunisia

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Posted in 10G USB, State of USB, USB 3.1 | 1 Comment »

Will Wireless (data & charging) replace USB?

Posted by Michael Posner on February 26th, 2016

The big question on people’s minds is if wireless, data transfer and charging, will replace USB in the future. The simple answer is  NO, USB is here to stay. For the longer answer read on.

It is true, wireless data transfer and wireless charging has replaced some of the traditional USB cable connected usage but even in these devices USB lives on supporting other extended use modes. At a high level USB will always be design in to support the following use cases and capabilities

  • Internal connectivity
  • Manufacturing
  • Recovery
  • Debug
  • Standard connectivity
  • Power delivery

Internal connectivity: USB is being used more and more for internal connectivity, chip to chip, as it’s a reliable and unified (universal) way to enable the rapid integration of chip building blocks. WiFi, Bluetooth and radio chips are good examples where USB might be employed to enable rapid and seamless connectivity to other processing engines. In these use cases I’d expect the interface to be USB 3.0 to support the required connectivity performance. So USB will be designed into both the chips.

Manufacturing: This is a use case which the end user rarely sees. Lets take the example of a fully wirelessly connected IoT device. Within the manufacturing process, do you think that the company wirelessly connects to thousands of devices to upload the firmware and execute the production testing? No, of course not. Managing production firmware loading, test and debug is typically done over a reliable hard wired connection, in most cases this will be a USB connection.

Recovery: Who has not had a device go into a bricked state? A while back my little fitness tracker locked up. I tried powering it up and down but no luck. After a quick online search of course I found the product detailed documentation which listed the failsafe recovery mode. Guess what, connect the USB powered cradle to a computer and run a software app to recover the device. My wireless fitness tracker integrated USB and it was this hard wired interface that was used to recover the device. I should have known that the device integrated USB already as you plug it into a mini dock to charge. The charging interface is of course USB.

Debug: Another trend is debug over USB, sometimes called Advanced Debug and Diagnostics. Again, the product integrates USB which could support multiple use modes and the advanced debug and diagnostics extends the ports usage.

Standard connectivity: Thanks to the reliability and performance of a hard wired USB it’s still the interface of choice to connect products to a host machine. Think device backup or mass data transfer.

Power Delivery: For a while there was a trend of wireless charging and this trend for small IoT based devices is expected to continue. However while wireless charging seems convenient it’s far from perfect and suffers greatly from slow charging performance issues. Consumers are just not willing to wait hours for their phone to charge. This is where of course USB Type-C blasts the competition. The increased power delivery means the device can be charged very quickly meeting and sometimes beating the consumers expectations.

I’m sure I have missed some use cases as well but as you can see, the wireless mega trend is far from replacing USB, in fact we expect the two to co-exist. Oh, and I suddenly realized that I didn’t even cover the USB-C with DisplayPort use mode. USB is here to stay.


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Last weeks little quiz: What is this?

Can you guess what this is?

Kati guessed it correctly, it’s a Mason Bee house. Mason bees sort of adopted us. We started noticing holes in our house being filled up with mud. At first I was worried as I thought the bees were also eating into the house to make these holes. After research and observation we realized they were mason bees. We purchased one little mason bee house and in spring they quickly adopted that. Now I custom build the houses for them using either ABS piping as in the picture or cedar. I purchased disposable cardboard tubes for them to live in which we replace once they exit. This helps keep them healthy.

Newly built mason bee house

Mason been poking his head out of hole

A row of our Mason Bee houses, some purchased, some built

It should be noted that Mason Bee’s are not USB powered in anyway.

This weeks quiz, when is BODMAS used?

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Posted in Bluetooth, Everyday USB, State of USB, Type C, USB, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB-C, WiFi | Comments Off