To USB or Not to USB


Media Agnostic USB – USB over WiFi in Qualcomm designs – Updated Oct 15

 The USB released a standard called Media Agnostic USB at IDF last month.  The standard essentially creates a class driver specification, a software level specification so that you use USB protocols to send data over any media.

Any media in this case is targeted at wireless standards WiFi and WiGig.  Since it’s agnostic, the same class drivers could be used for Ethernet cables, or fiber optics, or possible really long licorice ropes.

Okay, maybe not long licorice ropes. Unless they have the right sugar content and shade of red.

Hmm. licorice.

I digress.

The agnostic means you could even use a Firewire, DVI, or HDMI cable.  (I’m not advocating those, I’m just saying you could use them).

We shot a video of Jeff Ravencraft explaining the standard.  I will add it later, or maybe in a separate post. 

Video added October 15, 2014

The point is that you can now use USB over Wireless standards, use existing USB driver stacks, and bridge the USB protocol to work other non USB cables.

Most interestingly, immediately we see a blog from Qualcomm where Qualcomm tells us they are going to use Media Agnostic USB.  But instead, they call it Snapdragon USB over WiFi.

Qualcomm blog talking about Snapdragon USB over WiFi
Qualcomm Snapdragon USB over WiFi


There’s a great graphic there that shows a mobile phone transmitting data or video via WiFi to TVs, PCs, and lots of other devices.  What’s great about this is that a standard gets announced we immediately get an “announcement” that a Market leader is going to develop products to the standard as early as next year, in 2014.

We can makes some educated guesses about how Qualcomm might deploy this.    The current Snapdragon 800 has USB 3.0.   We can guess that they will use either WiFi-N or WiFi-AC next year to enable this.  WiFi-N is fast enough for streaming compressed video, but WiFi-AC will be more widespread in 2014.  We could guess that some providers would use cheaper, widespread WiFi-N chips.  More premium SmartPhones would use WiFi-AC.

It might be possible to upgrade the drivers in existing TVs with WiFi to be Media Agnostic Capable.  It’s also likely Qualcomm customers would produce a Media Center like box that would have WiFi embedded and would plug into either an external USB port or an HDMI port for the wireless streaming. Then users can use existing TVs that can’t be upgraded via software.  The Media Center like box could be a box or a ChromeCast like dongle that plugs directly into an HDMI port.

Background on WiFi and WiGig and Media Agnostic USB

The Mediate Agnostic USB standard comes from the WiFi Alliance which came from the WiGig.  WiGig uses 60GHz frequencies and was called 802.11ad.  WiGig goes up to 7 Gbps. WiFi-AC, now at 900 Mbps or so from companies like our customer Realtek.  

Digression 2

 Realtek’s WiFi-AC chip uses USB 3.0 as the primary interface because USB 2.0 only delivers effectives speeds of about 320-350 Mbps.   WiFi-AC speeds will go up to 6.7 Gbps.   So USB 3.0 is necessary to enable this.  (Or this other standard no one’s heard of called PCIe).  But I digress again.


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USB Humor – Deja Vu

We recorded no fewer than 8 videos at IDF. I’m hoping to roll them out over the next 8 weeks or less.  I would like to thank those that mentioned USB Superposition, a USB humor thing worth checking out here.

Yeah, you send me a politically correct joke fit to print here.  I dare you.

More USB Success

This Global 500 Electronics company said they couldn’t have done their project without our USB IP.  They used our USB 3.0 and 2.0 cores and PHYs. They found area and power advantages and highly differentiated in performance.

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