To USB or Not to USB


Certified SuperSpeed USB 3.0 IP Solution – Core and PHY IP

Our Synopsys engineering team earned SuperSpeed USB 3.0 certification for our USB 3.0 IP Solution including our USB 3.0 Device Core and our USB 3.0 PHY in TSMC 65LP.  We designed our USB IP into a mass storage reference design.  Think of it as a hardware prototype of a giant USB 3.0 flash drive that costs over $100,000 in hardware.   See the hardware below.  At the USB-IF’s Platform Interoperability Lab in Oregon, we passed a rigorous set of tests over 2 days including protocol, electrical, and interoperability tests.

Synopsys USB 3.0 IP on HAPS51FXT

In the picture, you can see our awesome (yes, awesome) USB 3.0 PHY test chip on the daughter board on the right.  The board is big because we need access to lots of test signals for testing.

While we had passed all the tests on the digital controller back in October 2009, we actually choose to wait for our PHY test chip to come back before getting formal certification.  (Also, the USB-IF is pretty strict about these things and said we couldn’t use a Rocket IOs in the FPGA to behave like a USB 3.0 PHY.  The strictness of the USB-IFs test procedures is one of the reasons why USB has been so successful.

The board on the left is our HAPS51FXT FPGA prototyping platform.  Its really been a reliable platform for our high speed USB 3.0 designs.  The cool thing is the FXT contains a whole bunch of Rocket I/Os that we can use to make PCIe or USB PHYs.  This means we can test our USB 3.0 Host with multiple ports by using the Rocket I/Os to simulate a bunch of USB ports.

Synopsys at the USB 3.0 Dev ConIMG_3703

At the USB 3.0 Developers Conference in Taipei, Taiwan, one of our lead USB 3.0 Architects gave a talk on USB 3.0 Peripheral Design.   I’d give you his name and picture, but you’d just try to recruit him.  If you want to know who he is, pick up a copy of the USB 3.0 Specification or the xHCI Host specification and read through the Technical Contributors.  You’ll find our Architect there.

I learned 2 interesting facts from the Keynote:

  • 10 billion USB enabled devices in the world today, and 3 billion new ones are being shipped each year according to In-Stat.
    My commentary:  I suspect about 500 million of those are keyboards and mice, but those count right?  About 300 million are PCs.  About 1 billion of those are mobile phones (is that right?)  The rest are all flash drives, hard drives, DVD/Blu-Ray Drives, printers, cameras…
  • The USB-IF has certified over 75 products as SuperSpeed USB 3.0.
    My commentary:  A bunch of them use the NEC Host chip, like the 20+ ASUS and GIGABYTE motherboards, or the HP, Fujitsu laptops.  However this is still important because it’s easy to mess up the system level drop-in of a USB 3.0 Host onto a motherboard.  PCB traces must be the right length.  Connectors have to be built to spec.

Tony Chen, a VP and Vice Chairman of ASUSTeK spoke about ASUS’s commitment to USB 3.0.  And Henry Kao, the VP of Sales and Marketing for GIGABYTE also spoke.  Lee Atkinson, a Distinguished Technologist from HP’s Consumer Notebook Group spoke about HP’s first USB designs in 1998 and their first 3 HP models with USB 3.0 support that are shipping today.
USB 3.0 Developers Conference
Jeff Ravencraft unveiled 25 certified SuperSpeed USB 3.0 products that are shipping.    You can see them here =>








DSC04662 Here’s our team with Mike Micheletti from LeCroy.  They make USB 3.0 Test and Measurement equipment.  I’ll be happy to give you his contact information.

Also, I ran into a guy who said, “I read your blog.”  I said, “Wow, so 3 guys, my dad, you, and my boss. Cool. Have a Synopsys pen.”

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