To USB or Not to USB


How long will we be living USB Type-C dongle hell? Not Long I think

Dongle Hell


There has been lots of chatter on dongles now that Apple taken the leap of faith and removed all ports on the new MacBook Pros except one, the USB Type-C (USB-C) port. Now while in my opinion this is a bold move in the right direction it does lead to a transition phase where the user is forced to utilize adapters from one connector and interface to another, also known as the Dongle!

Here is a link to one users experience of using dongles to adapt from the new USB Type-C ports to “other” interfaces via dongles. Once you have purchased the adapter dongles the actual daily life does not sound that bad.

Here is another great article written in a more generic way in respect to living in the transition period of USB Type-C. This user lists out a couple of handy dandy USB Type-C to other interface adapter dongles.

The question is how long we will be forced to live this way? In reality it might not be that long… The adoption of USB Type-C has been unprecedented and this fast move means that the transition period will be far shorter than previous generations of interfaces. A key to this fast transition is also the backward compatibility of USB. The Type-C standard and connector supports traditional USB 1.1, 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) and Gen 2 (10Gb/s).

Many of the initial Type-C ports were not native implementations with the SoC, these first versions utilized external analog mux chips and Type-C port controller chips to deliver solutions very quickly. Bridge chips, the ones that power the dongles, make the transition smoother by supporting a mix of new and legacy ports. This has helped accelerate the availability of Type-C products on the market. For the vendors of course this is a tradeoff between bill of materials and time to market.

We have been working with SoC customers for the last couple of years supporting them integrating USB Type-C natively in their SoC’s. Seeing the new interfaces in action, in hardware, is key to risk reduction perception. The Synopsys USB 3.1 Type-C with our DesignWare IP Prototyping Kits and a key demo and development platform which many of our customers have been utilizing to jump start their integration activities. Below is a short view of the DesignWare IP Prototyping kit for USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C.


Did you know that Synopsys USB 3.1 Gen 2 solution is the only IP solution to have received USB-IF certification? Well it has and not only once, but twice now and we have a roadmap for further certifications of newer process nodes and functions.  

Off topic… I try to build a gift from scratch for my son each holiday time. This year I noticed that my son likes to walk around the house dancing to music which gave me the idea of building an audio amplifier. Now many of you might say that it would have been easier to just buy one of the small and cheap Bluetooth speakers but that’s not the point. A gift that is built from scratch I think is more thoughtful and from the heart as you have put in physical time and effort. I call this years gift the Disco Box and have posted a short video explaining it’s capabilities.

Let me be the first to wish you Happy Holidays!


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