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.

Archive for 2007

Lower Power USB

Posted by Eric Huang on 20th December 2007

As I finish my shopping, I’ve noticed just about everything seems to use USB, or at least the gifts I have purchased.  The iPod iTouch, Canon DSC, Bluetooth headset.  The only thing I haven’t found is a Foot Spa powered by USB.  If anyone has seen one, let me know.

My Product Ideas (for you to steal):

1) USB Power port in the car – lower voltage is just right…
2) USB Foot Spa – Imagine clicking a mouse to turn up the bubbles?
3) Programmable Talking Fortune Teller – Fortunes uploaded daily via USB (WiFi too expensive)
4) USB powered hair clippers, okay dumb idea.
5) Lower Power USB (not my idea)

 The USB-IF formalized an ECN on Link Power Management that introduces a new sleep mode in USB.  The L1 Sleep Mode reduces suspend and resume times by 1000 times, so that the PHY and Link must suspend or wakeup in micro 10 microseconds rather than 3ms.  Also,  per port power control and supplying power to down stream peripherals is now actively manageable.  Go to www.usb.org and download the zip file with the spec to learn more.

For more low power from Synopsys, go to our Low Power Blog.  I have no idea if it’s any good (I’m trying to pick an on-line fight here), but he’s got a huge following so that must mean something.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Holiday Wishes

Posted by Eric Huang on 18th December 2007

In addition to a Wish for Wireless USB products, I like toys.  PC Magazine has 10 USB powered gift ideas .  I like the Solar Powered Bluetooth car-kit for use in your card (it charges via USB also).  I figure, if I leave this on the dash of my car, it will charge enough for my drive home and drive to work each day.  I also love the USB Microscope.  Mattel had one like this years ago, and I’m glad to see there is one again.  This is one toy I might get for my kids.  But they are spoiled enough already.

Posted in CWUSB, USB 2.0 | Comments Off

Wireless USB Gifts for 2007

Posted by Eric Huang on 5th December 2007

Looks like the IOGear and other Certified Wireless USB products are available now on Amazon.  I just received a Google Alert telling me that Tom’ Hardware Review Holiday Gift Giving Guide recommends the IOGear product.  My dad has been bugging me for a USB 2.0 Hub, but I think this is better.  The USB 2.0 Hub works great, but if I give him the Wireless Version, all the peripherals stay plugged into the Wireless Hub and he just plugs a USB Stick (like a flash drive) into the Laptop and he’s done.  One less cable.
I looked under my desk at home the other day, and with the 8 Power Cables, 6 USB cables,  2 1394 cables, and 2 speaker cables.  At least I could reduce the 8 USB cables to 1 with Wireless. 

Tags Correctly updated 12/6/07

Posted in Certified Wireless USB, CWUSB, UWB | Comments Off

Wireless USB Product Reviews, and Effective Throughput

Posted by Eric Huang on 29th November 2007

The Price of CWUSB products.
As I recall WiFi pairs when they were introduced were $500 or more at their introduction back in before 1999? And that was when $500 was worth something.  I adopted WiFi in 2003 when the pairs cost about $230.  As I recall this is around the time 802.11b was introduced at a price premium in the laptop chipset.  You still needed to buy a router for $120 in those days.  How fast did the throughput those systems run?  Did we need to cut cables in 2000? 2003? Can we live without WiFi today?

$200 is a reasonable price for the first products.
I think the $200 price is reasonable for a first generation device, and for those people willing to accept early data rates and cut 4 cables (not just 1). The throughput isn’t what was hyped, but hey, Draft-N just got there after pre-N has been in the market for 2 years.  When will we see “N” products that interoperate at high speeds?  I see nothing in the press on this.  Isn’t that interesting? Did 802.11b ever achieve 12 Mbps?

Critics of Wireless USB are right.  There must be compelling uses. There must be “decent” throughput.  There must be ubiquity in some device.

BUT, WiFi was ratified in 1997.  CWUSB in 2005.  WiFi started at 12Mbps technology. CWUSB achieves 35Mbps today at 1/2 the price (dollars unadjusted).  My best guess is CWUSB will be at 3x-5x these speeds within 2 years.

Effective Throughput
Lots of questions still on the internet regarding the Effective Throughput of Certified Wireless USB.  I think the article Is Ultrawideband still a viable wireless technology? gives an even-handed review pointing out the technical problems. 
It seems like all the companies with UWB products claim higher throughputs than the current products on the market.  I’m not sure why this data isn’t more publically published.  Alereon’s CEO talks about the performance of Native Devices in his blog.  (A Native device doesn’t use Wired USB.  On your Laptop this means it’s an ExpressCard or integrated into a chipset. )  Alereon observes speeds in excess of 125 Mbps and expects faster speeds by CES 2008. 

Eric is right on his blog.  Native devices will go faster.  We’ve achieved comparable native speeds in our lab with our own IP, but that is a topic for another entry.

I’m looking forward to the WiMedia UWB Technology – A Reality where I’m hoping more companies will demonstrate better throughput.  It’s free in Santa Clara on December 6, 2007.

Posted in Certified Wireless USB, CWUSB, IP, UWB | Comments Off

USB Everyday #1 – TiVo and USB

Posted by Eric Huang on 26th November 2007

I love TiVo.

Pictures from my PC on my TV

Why? I use TiVo’s home media feature to stream pictures from my PC to the Tivo. We use this at home to share pictures. This is great. Grandparents look at the pictures and ask to have printouts immediately.

USB on TiVo
Each of my 3 Tivos has 2 USB ports. I use Tivo branded WiFi USB Dongles. Since I upgraded my router to a Linksys WiFi G router, I’ve gotten more reliable connections, and transfers seem faster (maybe because of a TiVo firmware upgrade also). I’ve had this working for 4 years now.

This means I can wireless transmit photos and music from my PC to any Tivo in my house.

Transfer TV Shows to my Laptop
I also transfer TV shows from the TiVo to my laptop for watching on planes the only time I have to watch TV. Yes, I watch my TV shows on my laptop instead of working for 10 hours straight. The hard drive takes less power than my DVD drive.

A USB Host ports on the back of the TiVo let me plug in the WiFi USB Dongles. They work great. I just wish I could add a Terabyte hard drive through those USB ports to add more storage.

Posted in Uncategorized, USB 2.0, WiFi | Comments Off

USB Won, Certified Wireless USB will Win. Really…

Posted by Eric Huang on 19th November 2007

I agreed to do this blog because there is so little opinionated stuff debunking the debunkers of Wireless USB. Yes, I’m a USB chauvinist, and a Wireless USB chauvinist, but I understand how this stuff gets adopted and used.  At least in my own mind. :)


USB Won, Certified Wireless will Win - So here’s the thing.  The USB-IF has the best certification and interoperability program of all the standards I’ve seen.  It has regular plug-fests for free testing, and 3rd party labs for fee-based testing.  Procedures are clearly described, and there are gold tree tests with a range of USB devices.  Does your wired Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) printer/camera/widget work with a standard PC or laptop?  If it has the logo, it works.  This is one of the main reasons USB 2.0 is so ubiquitous.  Stuff with the USB Everything works together if it gets the logo.   USB is the most successful because of that.  CWUSB based on UWB will use the same infrastructure of spec, compliance, and logo.  


I’ve seen material attacking Certified Wireless USB and UWB.  Mostly based on the earliest product reviews.  For those of us around at the start of USB 2.0, this is like Deja Vu (no accents, sorry don’t speak French).  It’s true, the first UWB products are getting effective throughputs of 20 Megabits per second.  But, what was the real throughput of WiFi products at the beginning?  What are they now?  How much to people actually use?

The EETimes published this article on higher throughputs with 60GHz radios and WiFi as potential alternatives to UWB at gigabit speeds..  http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=W5B1LJS4T5R5SQSNDLSCKHA?articleID=202601507.

I also want a gigabit pipe into my house for $24.99 a month, but that ain’t happening.

60GHz is years away – Look, I’m super glad people are working on 60MHz, but beating out UWB?  This is just plain crazy talk. 60GHz radios are 5-7 years away from any kind of adoption. It’s true that these could be used widely in proprietary solutions, like point-to-point video in the near future.  And I’m sure there’s good technology.  However, the standards will not be in place for at least 2 years which means interoperability is 4 years out, and mass market adoption is further out.  (Sidenote: A friend of mine recently told me that they’ve been talking about 60GHz for 20 years)

802.11n here but interoperable? – And WiFi. WiFi is bigger than my ego. It’s everywhere.  I used it in 8 locations on my last trip to
Europe.  BUT, 802.11g’s maximum effective throughput is in the range of 20-25 Mbps.  The 802.11n standard has gone for 3 years of pre-N and “Draft-N” products.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft-NI have yet to see interoperability throughput results for products based on different chipsets.   If anyone can find this info please let me know.  The most recent article I found here: http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/06/airport-extreme-802-11n-base-station-tested-and-dissected/ gives a throughput of 9 MB/second (about 72 Megabits/second) at short ranges and 500KB/second (~4 Megabits/second) at 300feet.

Netgear product tests out at an impressive 100+ Megabits/second http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,1978612,00.asp but I’m still concerned a bit with interoperability.  Can I get 100 Mbps if the Draft-N chip in my laptop is different from the chip in the Router?  In the early days of WiFi, I vaguely recall that you had to have an SMC router and an SMC PCMCIA card to make the darn things work together. (I set up Linksys routers for me, my mom/dad, and my sister in about 2002).


UWB and Wireless USB Resources

Start here and look at the USB-IF at www.usb.org for lots of great information, specs and events.  WiMedia has good material at www.wimedia.org.

  The start-up, Alereon, has some articles on UWB, Wireless USB, Regulations and other stuff.  Check on the CEO’s blog.  http://www.staccatocommunications.com/technology/articles.html This start-up, Staccato, more articles.



Posted in 60GHz, Bluetooth, CWUSB, USB 2.0, USB Certification, USB-IF, UWB, WiFi | 2 Comments »