USB Type-C, will usher in the USB4 version by the end of the year
Universal Serial Bus (USB) may be one of the most versatile interfaces in the world. It was initially initiated by Intel and Microsoft, and its biggest feature is to achieve hot plug and plug and play as much as possible. Since the USB interface was launched in 1994, after 26 years of development, through USB 1.0/1.1, USB2.0, USB 3.x, it finally developed to the current USB4; the transmission rate has also been greatly increased from the initial 1.5Mbps to the latest 40Gbps.
The logo, transfer rate and theoretical speed of different versions of USB
USB Type-C is developing very rapidly
Not only the version and transmission rate have undergone many changes, but its connectors have also undergone many changes, from Type-A, Type-A SuperSpeed, Type-B, Micro-B, to Type-C, among which there are classic connectors. There are also connectors that are not very friendly and are eventually abandoned by the market.
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USB connector and its supported USB version. Among them, USB Type-C was announced at the end of 2013, and mass production products were launched in 2014. After years of development, it has now become the mainstream USB interface.
At present, not only the newly launched smart phones basically support Type-C connectors, but also notebook computers, digital cameras, smart speakers, mobile power supplies and other devices have also begun to adopt Type-C USB interfaces. For example, Apple has completely changed its MacBook laptop to a pure USB Type-C interface to allow users to transfer data or charge. There are even market rumors that Apple will also use the USB Type-C interface on future iPhones.
The USB4 standard released by USB-IF on September 3, 2019 even announced that it will only support Type-C connections.
Why do so many connectors at the beginning all boil down to Type-C? This is closely related to the fact that it has almost solved all the defects of the past USB connectors. For example, it does not need to distinguish between positive and negative, and can support up to 5A high current. With the support of the USB4 standard, the maximum transfer rate can reach 40Gbps.
It is understood that some well-known IC design companies in North America and Taiwan have begun the research and development of USB4 chips. It is expected that Type-C products using the USB4 standard will be available soon.
Is the USB4 product easy to design?
As mentioned earlier, USB-IF officially launched the USB4 specification in September 2019. What are the changes in this new specification?
The biggest change of the new USB4 is the introduction of the Thunderbolt protocol specification that Intel previously donated to USB-IF. Through dual link operation, the transmission bandwidth has doubled to 40Gbps, and it can be supported by tunnelling transmission technology. Multiple data and display protocols, such as PCI Express and DisplayPort. In addition, while introducing new underlying protocols, USB4 still maintains good compatibility, and is backward compatible with USB3.2/3.1/3.0/2.0, and Thunderbolt 3.
It is also true that USB4 has become the most complex USB standard so far, requiring designers to understand the technical specifications of USB4, USB3.2, USB2.0, USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery. In addition, designers must also understand the PCI Express and DisplayPort specifications, as well as the high-definition content protection (HDCP) technology that adapts to the USB4 DisplayPort mode.
Thus, it is not easy to design a USB4 Type-C product with complete functions. Is there an easy way?
Complete USB4 IP solution can shorten chip development time
Synopsys launched the industry's first complete DesignWareUSB4IP solution in June this year, which can reduce the risk of SoC development that supports the 40Gbps USB specification and speed up the time to market for chips. The solution consists of a controller (Controller), router (Router), PHY and verification IP (Verification IP). DesignWare USB4 IP has a maximum transmission speed of 40 Gbps, which is twice the maximum data transmission rate of USB3.2, and is backward compatible with USB 3.x and USB2.0 systems. DesignWare USB4 IP supports multiple high-speed interface protocols, including USB4, DisplayPort 1.4a TX, PCI Express, and Thunderbolt 3. A single USB Type-C data cable can achieve efficient data transmission, high-definition video transmission, and powerful equipment Power supply capacity.
Figure 3: USB4 dual-bus system architecture, where USB 2.0 (for backward compatibility) and USB4 use different links. (Image source: Synopsys)
It is understood that Synopsys has successfully implemented the test chip tapeout of its USB4 IP in the advanced 5nm FinFET process, which proves the stability of the IP in different ranges of processes, voltages and temperatures. Synopsys also plans to launch USB4 PHY IP on 7nm and other process nodes. The new DesignWare USB4 IP is designed to meet the functional, power, performance and size requirements of a variety of storage, PC and tablet chip designs, and can realize software development, debugging and easy deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) applications on edge devices.
The DesignWare USB4 router IP builds an effective connection between all supported protocols and, together with the USB4 controller IP, has been pre-verified by millions of CPU simulation hours to ensure long-term performance and interoperability. DesignWare USB4 PHY IP supports all required protocols, the chip occupies about one-third of the area of independent protocol PHY, and provides efficient power management capabilities.
Synopsys’ USB4 verification IP solution includes built-in coverage, protocol checker, Verdi protocol-aware debugging technology for host and device router topologies, and complex source code testing for USB, PCI Express and DisplayPort tunneling protocol verification Kit to accelerate the completion of verification convergence.
USB4 unifies a variety of protocols to the Type-C interface. In the future, the notebook computers, mobile phones, game consoles, cameras and monitors we use will all use unified data cables, which will bring great impact to our lives. It’s convenient, you don’t need to bother to understand so many complicated interfaces in the future, and you don’t need to bring a lot of different types of cables when you go out. One cable can solve all problems. And Synopsys’ USB4 IP solution will accelerate this process, and the era of a Type-C cable will come sooner.