To USB or Not to USB


State of USB – Spring 2013 – Part 3 – Monitors using USB 3.0 for Video

Having finished off an entire bag of Siracha flavored potato chips left for me on Tuesday morning (Thanks Scott Knowlton, author of the PCIExpress Blog, !), I turn to the subject of monitors using USB 3.0 for Video.

Why in the world would anyone use USB for Video?

The answer is the Monitor becomes the docking station for your PC.

In many corporate environments, users have a docking station for laptop where they plug in their PC


Users plug in the video cable (VGA), and then (hopefully) a USB Hub with their favorite Keyboard, Mouse, or wireless mouse keyboard dongle, and maybe an Ethernet connection.

In monitors now offered by HP, Dell and AOC have an integrated USB 3.0 Hub and the DisplayLink chip.

The Hub provides multiple USB ports to use to plug in your favorite USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 peripherals.

The DisplayLink Chip does all the work to carry the video over USB 3.0.  No HDMI cable is needed. 

Of course, the monitor still has HDMI ports (most likely) but the PC doesn’t need to have it.

So you walk up and connect 1 cable to your nice, big monitor (because your eyes are like mine and you like a big monitor) and you can use your nice big keyboard at your ergonomic workstation.

Dell, HP, and AOC monitors with DisplayLink chip and USB 3.0 Hub

We have several videos with DisplayLink describing their products and how they work. Here is the DisplayLink Success Story where they explain how they used Synopsys USB 3.0 PHY IP, USB 3.0 Device IP, and HDMI IP in their design.

Essentially, video is compressed if necessary in cases where both video and data are being sent and there isn’t enough bandwidth for uncompressed video.  In this way, the DisplayLink chip ensures good quality video, and low latency (for example, when you move the USB mouse it immediately moves on the display). 

In the mouse example, the data travels from the mouse to the docking station, over the USB 3.0 cable into the PC, is processed, represented in video and sent back   out video over the same USB 3.0 cable to display on the screen.

Just a Note – Thunderbolt does this already for video and data on all Apple PCs. You can read about Thunderbolt in these blogs.


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Proof of Potato Chips

Here’s the bag of chips I ate

Okay, I didn’t eat the whole bag.


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