To USB or Not to USB


Synopsys HAPS – USB 3.0 Video Streaming from DisplayLink

Here’s a quick video of the Display Link Video Streaming Demo using SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to transmit video from a PC to monitor.   You’ll notice at the bottom of the webpage a picture of our Synopsys HAPS-51 FPGA prototyping board.  This contains a USB 3.0 Device Controller and you can see that the demo uses a TI USB 3.0 PHY.

New USB 3.0 Products announced in the last 2 weeks include a Gigabyte “Heavy Duty” USB 3.0 xHCI Host Controller.  This board looks like it uses the popular NEC xHCI Host chip.  The Gigabyte add-in card offers 3x the power through each port as normally permitted by the USB 3.0 specification.

Geeknote: This means that USB 3.0 devices connected to the a port can draw more milliamps, up to 1500mA for USB 2.0 devices and 2700mA for USB 3.0 devices.

This additional power can be used as follows:

1) Battery Charging – This includes the battery charging of a portable device, or faster battery charging.   This is common for many devices like Blackberries and iPods.

2) More Functions/Mechanical Function – A portable hard drive or Blu-Ray Drive can spin-up using the power and run continuously without an additional power cable.  The mechanical motion of the drive sometimes requires more power than standard USB 2.0 or 3.0 can provide.  My favorite product for this is this which doesn’t exist is a USB enabled fast prototyper that take the dimensions of a CAD drawing and builds it in plastic by cutting away layers of plastic into a shape.  Another examples include: Portable USB Printers (receipts, labels), USB Credit Card Readers, USB WiFi Dongles with greater range)…

3) Supporting Power Hungry products – Some products simply require more power, and pull more power than they “should”   I shouldn’t judge, but a few badly designed products simply take more power, and pull it anyways.

Generally, I think the Gigabyte product is an interesting way to differentiate their Host from other Host based on the NEC chip.  The e-tail price is $53 on a site called Brando.

In addition, NEC announced that their Lavie L Series Notebook will include USB 3.0.  NEC is the latest company in addition to HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Acer announcements.

We’ve also been testing the Seagate Hard Drive and ExpressCard Host combination. So far it has easily and seemlessly worked with our standard issue laptops around the office.  Unfortunately, my laptop doesn’t have an ExpressCard slot, but my next one will.

GeekWatch: I recommend Stargate:Universe for people that liked Star Trek or BSG.

While 30% of households have DVRs in the U.S., the number will hit 44% within 5 years, and 54% will be using VOD.  I’m also told that the young people or “kids” are all using VOD and don’t really watch traditional TV so much anyways.  My thinking is every single one of these devices will have USB 3.0 on it, but hey, I’m a marketing guy.

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