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 the 'Tablets' Category

First USB 3.0 Docking Stations Specifically Targetted at Tablets

Posted by Eric Huang on 4th June 2013

Belkin announced the release of the very first USB 3.0 Docking Stations specifically targetted at tablet PCs.

The design is such that it allows the simultaneous use of 3 screens: the tablet screen and 2 screens attached to the docking station.

At this time, the docking station supports Windows 8 Tablets which means that the same USB drivers are available for that tablet.

DisplayLink demonstrated something like this at CES in our video here

It’s just one way, Synopsys customers like DisplayLink are enabling the use of your portable tablets like a full PC with your big monitors and full sized keyboards.


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DAC is Here

Stay tuned for DAC Videos and updates.

USB University

Remember, we have USB University which will help you learn about USB 3.0.

If you are a manager considering USB or an engineer considering working with USB.

Registration is required.  It’s 5 hours of training. It’s worth it.  Go to USB University Right Now

Posted in DAC, DisplayLink, Success Stories, Tablets | 1 Comment »

DisplayLink at CES 2013 – Docking Station with a Tablet

Posted by Eric Huang on 21st May 2013

Here’s some lost footage, I’ve just found from my visit to CES 2013 with DisplayLink.

John points to ASUS, Lenovo, and HP Docking stations using the DisplayLink chip.  Most interesting, John Cummins, VP of Marketing, demonstrates the Dell Monitor with a Built In Docking Station used with a Tablet towards the end of this video.  (Couldn’t we do the same thing with a SmartPhone?)

There is another demo in the middle of the video that I’m not writing about at this time. I think it might be the first actual published video of this concept.  Watch the video to find out.  It’s not an insignificant demonstration.

That’s just a picture: the Video should be embedded below.

If the video isn’t properly embedded, then you need to go to YouTube here to view the DisplayLink CES 2013 video.

The great thing about DisplayLink is their customers keep coming out with more and more great products.


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Captioning by YouTube

Here are the captions that YouTube provided for this video.  You can see exactly how accurate they are.


Posted in DisplayLink, HDMI, Tablets, USB 3.0, USB 3.0, USB Power Delivery, USB Video | Comments Off

State of USB – Spring 2013 – Part 4 – Tablet, Phablets, Phones and Mobile Apps Processors

Posted by Eric Huang on 9th May 2013

As I sit here at my son’s baseball game typing up this blog entry, I wonder if I should be typing up a blog entry at my son’s baseball game.

The State of USB – Spring 2013 – Tablets, Ultra books, and Phones

Sadly, USB 3.0 has not yet appeared it phones.

It should have. It hasn’t.

Now that that, is out of the way, let’s talk about why USB 3.0 should be in more phones.

Mobile Applications Processors with USB 3.0

1)      TI OMAP 5 (announced in 2011)

2)      Ivy Bridge (shipped in 100M units) not really a mobile apps processor, but used extensively in Ultrabooks

3)      Samsung Exynos 5 (announced in 2012)

4)      nVidia Tegra 4 (announced in April 2013)

5)      Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (announced in 2012)

Let’s take them out of order because that’s the way my mind works


Ivy Bridge

Ivy Bridge has shipped in 100 M devices.

Some will say the Ivy Bridge tablets are just PCs.  Well, since they have touch screens and 5 hours of battery life, I think they are tablets.

There are 4 (at least) that are shipping now

The Microsoft Surface Pro, Samsung, TCL, and Dell Tablets.

 Microsoft Surface Pro

 Samsung Tablet

 Dell 18 inch tablet


Announced in 2011 and demonstrated at CES 2012, TI OMAP 5 has USB 3.0 fully integrated.  Although TI has apparently refocused the TI OMAP 5 designs directed at automotive.  Which is good, because, lets face it, in car systems with navigation and entertainment are pretty much just mobile tablets with touch screens.

nVidia Tegra 4

Last year Fudzilla said the Tegra 4 would kick off the USB 3.0 tablet revolution

This Tegra 4 will likely debut this summer in the nVidia Shield, which is a gaming tablet with a controller. I can’t actually tell if the controller is detachable from the tablet. I suspect it has to be.

Samsung Exynos 5

The Exynos 5 started shipping in the Samsung Chromebook just a few months ago.  For $250 at Best Buy or Amazon, you get a keyboard and screen that will sync with Google Drive so you can work with documents, spreadsheets, and presentations both on and off line.  It plays games too.  It has USB 3.0 Host ports.  

The same chip will be in the Galaxy S4 which appears in the teardowns to only have a USB 2.0 port.  If the next generation Galaxy Tab comes out soon, maybe that will actually use the USB 3.0 externally.

Finally, we have the

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

Which delivers both a USB 3.0 Device and Host in one mobile phone package.

You may have seen the Snapdragon theater where they streamed 4k video and 7.1 channel sound at CES.  The phone can also capture 55 MP images.  That’s right. 55 Megapixel.  I can’t figure that one out either.

So there you have it, 5 platforms, ready for the phone, tablet, and phablet market.  Ivy Bridge is shipping, Samsung is shipping.  The good news is that these leaders differentiate their products with USB 3.0.  We can hope and expect more will arrive soon.


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USB University

Remember to check out USB University.  It’s appropriate for managers and marketers working on or considering USB 3.0, and for architects and engineers that need deep technical detail.

For the few people that have tech issues, I’m sorry. We are working on them.

And my son’s team lost 0 to 18.  At least I think that was the score. I left before the end and they kept playing.  When I came back he was eating corn chips with melted cheese. And seemed happy as a kid eating corn chips with melted cheese.

Posted in Mobile Phone, Smartphone, State of USB, Tablets, USB 3.0 | Comments Off

NAND Flash Prices to drop to 17 cents per Gigabyte

Posted by Eric Huang on 17th April 2013

Just to support the argument that Video Camera Makers should integrate flash( because a 4 part article isn’t enough) and we can expect Smartphones and Tablets to integrate more memory.

The primary drivers to greater NAND flash are the increasing demands of Smart Phone and Tablet users to run more apps, store more high resolution pictures (like the 13MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S4) and eventually, in the future, those using the 4k video cameras supported by sensors by companies like Aptina.  Go ahead do a search on 4k and Aptina and Android and you will see it.

I read an IC Insights report that says that NAND flash average selling prices will drop to 17 cents per Gigabyte by 2017.

So the addition of 128 or 256GB so a design ends up costing something like $20 or $40.  In addition, the NAND flash parts are getting bigger.  The ones that sell the most are expected to be the 2 largest NAND flash parts.  I should note this isn’t the fastest flash but the average selling price.  We can certainly expect the fastest flash found in my Crucial SSD will drop in price as well as the capacity will increase.  This (again) supports the idea that 10G USB will also be needed for external storage, and SSDs will likely make the transition to replace smaller USB Hard Drives in the 2017 time frame or sooner.


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Tips of the Day

Don’t tug on Superman’s cape

Don’t go yachting off the coast of Somalia

Don’t argue with a Wookie

I think two of those are based on fiction of some kind. I could be wrong, so really it’s only a Tip of the Day.

Send me your Tip of the Day.  That’s pretty much all I had stored up.

Posted in Digital Video, DSC, DVC, NAND Flash, Smartphone, SSD, Storage, Tablets, USB 3.0 | Comments Off

USB Power Delivery Profiles

Posted by Eric Huang on 10th September 2012


The USB Power Delivery standard will allow up to 100W of power to be delivered to or from devices. 

Power Delivery

Power Delivery Profiles and Applications


There is an error in the first slide.  Correction is after the Jump

Keep in mind that the power provided over USB is limited by the wire gauge or thickness/diameter of the cable. More thickness = more cost.  You can carry more current.

Also remember that power can go in either direction with USB Power Delivery.

For Profile 1, we can image a tablet powering a flash drive or a keyboard and mouse through a USB 3.0 docking station.

For Profile 2, the USB 3.0 docking station can charge the tablet and ultrabook.

The ultrabook could power a monitor of up to 22 inches (maybe more) using only Profile 3.

For Profile 4, we could see super fast charging of a table, or support of even larger monitors and many more peripherals.

We can imagine Profile 5 used in desktops and laptops and monitors plugged into the wall and moving power over thicker USB cables.   Existing connectors and cables can probably be used for up to 36W, but read the spec first.



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Correction: USB 3.0 Power is from Host to Device NOT Device to Host

Something Funny from Agent K

This is a USB 3.0  story from Clients from Hell.


After you click on the Image above to read it, you can click here for the original article and more humor

Posted in Smartphone, Tablets, USB Humor, USB Power Delivery | Comments Off

The First Commercially Available Tablet PC with USB 3.0–Microsoft Surface, Maybe Soon

Posted by Eric Huang on 22nd June 2012


As stated by the CTO of the USB-IF, USB 3.0 hits tablet PCs this year with the Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro PC Tablet.

This is much earlier than I would expect.  It would be better if Microsoft announced a date for availability.


The Microsoft Surface PC uses the Ivy Bridge chipset found in the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro,

In this PC World Article, you can see a comparison of all the announced tablets.  Only Microsoft Surface has USB 3.0.

This follows the announcements previously:




Fancy Friday

I was asked to promote Fancy Friday.

I responded with a challenge: Write Haiku’s promoting both USB and Fancy Friday.

In the old days, business people wore ties and suits all the time every day.

  • On Friday, you might have Casual Friday.
  • No tie or dress shirt on Casual Friday.
  • Maybe jeans

In the Silicon Valley, we wear business casual clothing.

  • For Marketing, this means no ties.
  • For some engineers this means sandels, shorts and t-shirts.

Casual Fridays is the opposite of Fancy Fridays

  • Superman vs. Lex Luthor
  • Or Batman vs. the Joker

On Fancy Friday, according to some, you wear a formal business clothing.

Here are the Haikus to promote Fancy Friday and USB

Please find below the 3 haikus you’ve requested. In our infinite wisdom, we have gone above and beyond and provided a 4th haiku, free of charge. The fourth would make for a good intro on your blog. Let’s change the way our industry dresses on Fancy Fridays!
The ball’s in your court. Smile


  • Challenge accepted
  • We will write you three Haikus
  • so you’ll blog for us


  • In my cube I read
  • “to USB” cause it’s free
  • Haikus are easy


  • USB traffic
  • A forest of Golden trees
  • Engineers unite


  1. Ditch your jeans and tee
  2. A new change to your Friday
  3. Formal attire

Matt Bartleson

Posted in PC Chipset, Tablets, USB 3.0 Adoption, Windows 8 | Comments Off

Is your NAND Flash fast enough to require USB 3.0? Part 1

Posted by Eric Huang on 23rd May 2012

Many factors lead to either great USB performance, or poor USB throughput.

The storage in your smartphone or tablet, the NAND flash is one factor.


The question is: Is the NAND flash you use fast enough that you need USB 3.0?

Can you read and write to your NAND flash fast enough so that you can use USB 3.0?

If your NAND flash is slow, why bother with USB 3.0?

That is the real question.

If USB 3.0 costs more, costs more chip/die area, more pins, more software, why bother?


I love this question.

NAND Background

NAND is memory used to store your phone numbers, apps, music, pictures, and videos

NAND Flash is used to store your music, movies, pictures.

Phones use it for phone numbers

Smart Phones store apps, music, video, and your Facebook updates

Digital cameras store videos and pictures

Ultrabooks and Tablets store everything.

NAND Flash chips look like this:


NAND Flash is different from a hard disk drive (HDD). 

An HDD has disks that spins, and takes more energy because it has to spin.

NAND Flash doesn’t spin (unless you carry your cell phone when you dance)

NAND Flash is packaged in many forms:

  1. SD or Secure Data Cards for your digital camera
  2. USB Flash/Jump/Thumb Drives
    1. USB Flash drives can be fast like our Fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drive in the Universe demo
    2. USB Flash can be slow
      1. Like the free ones given out in exchange for your personal information at trade-shows
      2. or in the cheap drives in the checkout line at Target, Nova, Bic Camera, Fanuc, Gomez, Yodobashi…
  3. SSDs (Solid State Drives)
    1. Ultrabooks all use SSDs, some laptops do.
    2. SSDs consume (in general) 1/3rd the power of an HDD and and 3x faster than an HDD.
    3. If you drop a PC with an SSD, the SSD won’t “crash” because it has no moving parts like an HDD.
    4. SSDs are 3x more expensive than an HDD.
      1. To keep the Ultrabook price down, the size of an SSD will usually be 128GB or less
    5. Tablets use NAND flash. So do Ultrabooks like the Macbook Air, Toshiba Protégé, HP Envy, and Dell…
    6. SSDs are usually the same size and shape of a laptop HDD because they fit in the same physical space.

Here’s a picture of SSD’s


What’s important about NAND speeds and price

Some NAND is slower, and cheaper.

Some is faster, and more expensive.

I’ve been told many, many times that “We can make NAND as fast as we want, but people have to be willing to pay for it”

At the same time, we see NAND prices dropping over time.

More memory, same price.

Faster memory, same price.


What’s your point?

With NAND, you get more memory and faster memory each year.

You are designing products that will ship in 2 years.

Will the those products use the faster, cheaper NAND flash?

The answer does NOT come only from the COST of flash.


I’ll answer this through the next few articles.  This article provides the baseline for the discussion.

The next few blog entries will cover:

  1. NAND Read Write Speeds
  2. Factors influencing Performance
  3. Applications and NAND Speeds
  4. Why is your competition eating your 2014 lunch?





It turns out, I can’t tell how many of you actually subscribe.

According to Feedburner I have 10 subscribers. I think Feedburner is broken since our readership has gone up a shocking 25%+ in the past 30 days and Google says it was more than 2.5 people.


Reader Comments

My marketing colleague, Prasad, dropped by to comment on the Thunderbolt versus USB 3.0 Blog.

“I really liked your Thunderbolt blog entry. I liked the video.  Gervais was funny which was totally unexpected.”

I’m planning more videos with Gervais.

Gervais brings the funny.



In case you missed it, we shoot videos, and sometimes, something funny happens.

I paused the video and accidently got this screenshot.


To revisit this blooper click here or click on the image above. It will be the best 11.5 seconds of your day.


Next Entries:

NAND Flash and USB 3.0

Posted in NAND Flash, Smartphone, Tablets, USB 3.0 Performance | 1 Comment »

$800M says Thunderbolt stays Closed

Posted by Eric Huang on 15th May 2012

I’m constantly asked: "Will Thunderbolt replace USB 3.0?"

Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will co-exist & live long, fruitful lives

As reported previously, Apple filed and recieved a patent for a new iPhone or iPad connector which looks  like a Thunderbolt connection. You can see in the picture that it includes connections for USB 3.0 and dual port Displayport.

Apple received the patent in April 2011.  Since it takes at least 3 years to get a patent, we can guess that Apple has known since at least 2008 (probably 2007), it would support USB 3.0.

Apple may or may not have had knowledge of Thunderbolt in 2007.  I can see a world (in 2007) where Apple knew it would want it’s iPad tablet to drive a bigger monitor through DisplayPort.  That could be the original reason for dual DisplayPort and not Thunderbolt.  I can only guess.

Where am I going with this?

  1. Apple uses the PCs chips found in most PCs
  2. Most PCs will move to Ivy Bridge
  3. Ivy Bridge will be found in most PCs
  4. Future Apple PCs will likely use Ivy Bridge
  5. Ivy Bridge has USB 3.0
  6. It’s highly likely Apple will support USB 3.0
  7. Apple patents indicate they’ve planned all along to support USB 3.0

So if you are still with me, Apple will definitely support USB 3.0

Back to the question

Will Thunderbolt overtake USB 3.0?


  1. Faster than USB 3.0 today
  2. Proven
  3. On every Apple mobile PC


  1. Closed Standard restricts the ability to integrate.
  2. Only one company provides discrete chips

The one way Thunderbolt could overtake USB 3.0 is if Thunderbolt opens up as a standard.

USB 3.0 will have more than 100 design starts for SoC integration

The USB-IF has something like 4000 members. By the end of this year, there will be about 200 different USB 3.0 Design starts.  Thats lots of people innovating products around USB.

Thunderbolt is closed.  It will stay closed.  This video explains why:


So the Innovator that designed Thunderbolt makes money from customers like Apple, Acer, and Lenovo that ship Thunderbolt.  Big piles of money.  People that need/want Thunderbolt pay for Thunderbolt.

The innovator promotes USB 3.0 for mainstream ease of use.  Consumers are happy.

Thunderbolt closed.  USB open.

Everyone is happy.




Try and Subscribe.

I dare you.


Apparently we’ve sold a bunch of DDR.

There was cake.

I ate 2 pieces.

Posted in Apple, iPad, iPhone, PC Chipset, Smartphone, Tablets, Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 | Comments Off

Fujitsu, Lenovo USB 3.0 Docking Stations, Fast USB 3.0 Flash Drive Dialog

Posted by Eric Huang on 10th May 2012

Fujitsu and Lenovo announced USB 3.0 Docking Stations both using the DisplayLink USB 3.0 to HDMI chip.


Fujitsu and Lenovo announces DisplayLink based USB 3.0 port replicators

Fujitsu USB 3.0 Docking Station



The ThinkPad Lenovo USB 3.0 Docking Station also has the DisplayLink chip in it. It’s a pretty sleek design.


To celebrate the availability of these two terrific USB 3.0 products, I’m posting a demo showing exactly what a docking station like this can do.


USB 3.0 Docking Station–A real product bought off Amazon


The most important part about demonstrating the USB 3.0 Gold Tree with USB 2.0 peripherals, is that you can plug them all in and they “just work”  So your existing web cam, keyboards, mice, speakers, headphones, printers should all work just like we tested here.

We loaded the driver, and changed nothing in our setup and the USB 3.0 docking station worked.


My point: If you buy a USB 3.0 Docking Station it will work with your USB 2.0 stuff AND it might be the last one you buy for 10 years.

Think about buying a Fujitsu USB 3.0 Port Replicator, ThinkPad USB 3.0 Docking Station, or Targus USB 3.0 Docking Station.


As I read these articles, I realized that my lousy PCIexpress based docking station causes a Blue Screen of Death about 1 in 10 times I re-dock. So I’m going to steal a Targus USB 3.0 Docking station from the lab and replace the one on my desk.  I’m actually excited about this.


Here’s the original demo of the Targus docking station from DisplayLink recorded last year.


I described this docking station to my Dad, and he wants one.

I think my Dad doesn’t read my blog, and therefore doesn’t deserve a cool USB 3.0 Docking Station.



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Thank you for reading this blog.

Last week I wrote

“Remember Mother’s Day is May 12th in the U.S. Celebrate and send your mother a link to this blog.”

Today, Vijay (I guy I don’t talk to) walked by my office and said to me

“I sent it (your blog) to my wife’s mom”

without saying anything else before or after.

I have to wonder Vijay likes or dislike’s his wife’s mom.


Vijay’s name has been changed to protect the innocent.

I’m not sure who is innocent however.

Posted in SuperSpeed USB, Tablets, USB 3.0, USB 3.0 Products, USB Demonstration, USB Video | Comments Off

Samsung Exynos 5 Smartphone & Tablet chip with USB 3.0

Posted by Eric Huang on 29th April 2012

I came across this Samsung tablet & smartphone chip with USB 3.0.  You can clearly see it has USB 3.0 as part of the design.




Even more fun, a Samsung says that this will go into a Samsung Galaxy 3 smart phone.  This means phones and tablets.


This makes the Samsung chip the 3rd tablet or smart phone chip that will definitely have USB 3.0.

TI OMAP is the first for tablets, and clearly goes into phones also.

The Ivy Bridge chip for PCs should go into tablets, but doesn’t appear to be made for phones.

And the Samsung Exynos 5 chip which looks like a tablet and phone chip.



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I had lunch with my Mom and Dad Sunday. 

I told them about a video I planning to record.

The videos will be recorded by our most excellent marketing team of Darcy Hickey-Pierce and Hannah Watanabe of Conversation Central. (As usual do not click on that link stay here because you may not come back).

Back to the Video: My Mom and Dad both gave advice on how to put the proper market messaging in my video.

At this point, I realized, my Mom has never read my blog or watched my videos.

Which means I’m the only one who reads it.



Just Great.


Remember Mother’s Day is May 12th in the U.S. 

Celebrate and send your mother a link to this blog.


Maybe your Mom will read this blog.

My Mom does not.

Posted in Mobile Phone, Smartphone, Tablets, USB 3.0 Products | Comments Off