USB-IF Publishes USB 3.2 Specification Rated At 20 Gbps With Multi-Lane Operation

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2017 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.2, usb-if, USB 3 Type-C, type c, usb

The USB Implementers Forum recently published and made official the specifications for the USB 3.2 standard first introduced in near-final form by the USB 3.0 Promoters Group back in July. The USB 3.2 standard specifies the physical and logical techniques for transferring data over physical USB cables (which are now all specified under their own standards decoupled from the USB 3.2 data transfer specifications) at up to 20 Gbps (~2 GB/s) using two 10 Gbps channels and the same signaling and 128b/132b encoding used by USB 3.1.

usb3.1-3.jpg

Like Thunderbolt, USB 3.2 takes advantage of multiple lanes to achieve the total bandwidth rather than trying to clock and run a single channel at twice the speed which is incredibly complex. In the case of USB 3.2, the specification defines two channels that can run 2 x 5 Gbps or 2 x 10 Gbps depending on the cable used with USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) or USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) cables respectively. In fact, users will be able to re-use their existing USB Type C cables to connect USB 3.2 hosts to USB 3.2 devices so long as they are up to spec. The USB-IF is able to achieve this by using the extra wire pairs in the Type C cables to enable the two lane operation. (5 Gbs cables would be upgraded to 10 Gbps speeds and 10 Gbps cables would be upgraded to 20 Gbps speeds when used with 3.2 hardware at both ends.)

The specification is expected to be finalized by the end of the year with USB 3.2 controllers and other hardware to begin production and roll outs in 2018. Devices supporting the faster USB 3.2 standard are expected as soon as 2019. Desktop users should get access first in the form of PCI-E add-on cards with new USB 3.2 controllers from third parties with native CPU and chipset support from AMD and Intel following in a generation or two (processor generation that is). Laptop and mobile users will have to wait until at least 2019 if not later for the faster standard to come standard.

It is interesting that they have decoupled the USB data transfer standard from the physical cable standards. It seems that USB Type C cables are the star of the show, but that cables like Type A and Micro cables are not going away and could be used with USB 3.2 with the caveat that you would need to buy new USB 3.2 cables which should be backwards compatible with older USB standards but current cables (SuperSpeed Type C cables being the exception) aren't forwards compatible--they might work but will support the higher speeds. At least that is my understanding of it. I am curious if Type C will be more prevalent with USB 3.2 or if we will still see motherboards with a single USB Type C nestled among many more Type A ports. I suppose the number of Type C vs Type A ports will all depend on how many new devices adopt Type C as the USB 3.2 physical interface of choice though, something we will just have to wait and see on! It is nice to see some competition for Thunderbolt though even at 20 Gbps USB 3.2 still lags behind the 40 Gbps of Thunderbolt 3 (20 Gbps with passive copper cables) which Intel is allegedly planning to make royalty free next year. USB 3.2 also has more overhead and is less ideal for things like external graphics. On the other hand, it may just be the cheap enough and fast enough connector that will get the design wins while Thunderbolt continues to be more of a prosumer and professional interface for the higher end and expensive motherboards, PCs, and end devices.

If you are interested in the new 20 Gbps USB 3.2 specifications, the USB-IF has provided a 103 MB zip file with several documents including a 548 page PDF of the new standard and a redline comparison between it and USB 3.1 among other related documents for developers.

Source: USB-IF

Poor headphone jack, more companies may adopt Apple's innovation

Subject: General Tech | September 28, 2016 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, headphones

There will be an improvement in audio support on Type-C USB connections which will decrease power demands, as USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specifications have just been announced.  When compared to the 3.5mm headphone jack, USB audio is a power hog which will shorten the amount of time your battery will last on a phone or other mobile device but it seems that the USB-IF have been working to overcome this issue.  Product manufacturers are looking forward to this as USB can be isolated from other internals far more effectively than the 3.5mm jack which would allow them to waterproof their devices. 

Hopefully the new compliance testing regime brought about after the consequences of using a bad cable to charge your laptop will ensure we do not have any related problems with audio devices.  The Register does remind us that Bluetooth 5 is yet to be commonly found on mobile devices and could offer yet another 3.5mm nail in the coffin.

belkin-usb-type-c-840x428.jpg

"Hear that, children? That's the sound of another set of nails in the coffin of headphone jacks in mobile devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Dell's New 30" 4K 120Hz UP3017Q OLED Monitor Coming Soon

Subject: Displays | July 14, 2016 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, up3017q, oled, DisplayPort, Dell 4K, dell, 4K 120

Initially teased at CES earlier this year, Dell’s UP3017Q is an amazing 30-inch 4K monitor with an OLED panel capable of running at 120Hz. The thin bezeled UltraSharp is also extremely thin at less than 0.5” at the edges. Running a resolution of 3840 x 2160, the 30” monitor comes in at 146 PPI (pixels per inch). The UP3017Q was originally slated for a March release, but it ended up not being available. Reportedly, Dell is still fine tuning the monitor and it will be available soon though the company has not given a new specific launch date when you will actually be able to buy it.

It has some rather impressive specifications, and I am really interested in seeing it in person! The panel manufacturer is still unknown (though many have guessed it is one from LG), but it offers up a resolution of 3840 x 2160, refresh rate of up to 120Hz, 0.1ms response time, and 400,000:1 contrast ratio. Being OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode), the monitor will be able to deliver true blacks and excellent colors in a very thin profile thanks to not needing a separate backlight (the pixels themselves emit light). Dell claims that the UP3017Q 4K monitor fully supports 100% of the Adobe RGB and 97.8% DCI-P3 color spaces. At a claimed 1.07 billion colors this is a 10-bit color monitor which will be useful in professional applications where color accuracy is paramount.

Dell has further claimed that it has mitigated burn in on this monitor by implementing a “pixel shifting algorithm” as well as placing a sensor on the monitor that can detect when you are looking at it and turn off when no one is watching anything on it (which some might find a bit creepy but it can likely be turned off heh). There are five buttons on this monitor, four on the bottom edge for OSD controls and one on the back to release the monitor from its stand.

Dell UP3017Q.jpg

One interesting hang up lies in the video inputs on this monitor. It only has HDMI 2.0, Mini DisplayPort 1.2, and USB Type-C. As posters over at [H] pointed out, the HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.2 connections do not have enough bandwidth to support the panels 3840 x 2160 resolution at 120Hz. Fortunately the refresh rate is not a lie. There is a a way to do it, but users will need to use the USB Type-C connector and it’s DisplayPort Alternate Mode feature to do it. At DisplayPort 1.2, the DisplayPort Alt Mode can give you 5.4 Gbps per lanes and using all four available lanes can hit a total of 21.6 Gbps which would be enough to support 4096x2160@60Hz. However, the DisplayPort 1.3 standard (which this monitor and it’s USB Type-C port seems to support) can give up to 8.1 Gbps for up to 32.4 Gbps of bandwidth (25.92 Gbps after 8b/10b encoding overhead) which should allow the full 3840x2160@120Hz to be used. It is unfortunate that Dell opted to go with this odd port arrangement and not include a direct DP 1.3+ port though!

This monitor has a lot of potential, but this massive OLED comes at a price: when it comes to market it will have a MSRP of $4,999! As much as many would want this to be their new gaming PC monitor, I think it will be mainly for commercial and design applications especially with the input lag being unknown and no support for the various variable refresh rate technologies (AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync) If that is what you are looking for there are much cheaper options, but if you want an all out OLED monitor for work and media and price is no object I would be very eagerly waiting for reviews on this!

What are your thoughts on this monitor and OLED?

Source: HardOCP

You can now source USB Type C cables safely, at least from Amazon

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, amazon

Yes, after much destruction of expensive hardware including the Pixel 2 belonging to Google researcher Benson Leung, you can now source the new USB cables much more safely.  Benson has been testing these cables for quite a while and has been trying to convince major suppliers such as Amazon to vet the cables they are selling, and to refuse to sell ones which are not up to spec.  According to what The Inquirer has heard this quest has finally been completed and Amazon will no longer sell 'any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by USB Implementers Forum Inc'.  That would include cables that were being sold by the smartphone company OnePlus, whose cables would work only with their phones.

***OnePlus contacted us to clarify that as of January they've restocked their products with Type-C cables and adapters with 56kΩ resistors, which are fully compliant with the standard.***

It has taken far too long to do this and the killer cables are still out there at retail outlets and other online marketplaces, so exercise caution but Type-C is finally safe enough to think of using for charging and the other new capabilities it posesses.

51cxgSypOyL._SX425_.jpg

"Amazon has now stepped in to put a stop to the free-for-all on crappy cables. The retailer's list of prohibited electronics items now includes 'any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by USB Implementers Forum Inc'."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Why can't we have nice things? USB Type-C can be as bad as the etherkiller

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2016 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C

USB 3.0 Type C cables have finally solved the strange physics defying issue of the originals and you no longer need to rotate your USB plug twice before it will connect.  Unfortunately it has introduced more serious problems, in some cases dangerous and expensive problems.  Back in November we posted about a Google researcher who found a variety of cables which did not have the correct resistor installed and which could release the magic smoke from your computer.  He is still at it and may be one of the only reasons to join Google+ as you can follow his findings there.  Unfortunately he won't be posting for a little while as the most recent one, a SurjTech 3M cable, destroyed his test equipment, including a $1499 Pixel 2.

Sadly it is not just cheap off brand cables you need to fear, Apple recently recalled numerous Type C cables which shipped with their products.  The Inquirer mentions a way to tell if your cable is definitely dangerous but this seems a situation where you are better safe than sorry.  Considering these dangers and the fact that in many cases the manufactures are actually using USB 3.0 cables with the Type C connection, it might be worth waiting on upgrading those peripherals.

maxresdefault.jpg

"APPLE IS the latest company to fall foul of the messy rollout of USB-C. The company has recalled a bunch of the cables that were official accessories sold separately or included with the most recent MacBook devices that eschewed USB=A and Lightning in favour of a single USB-C port for everything."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

The other Android, a look at the OnePlus 2

Subject: Mobile | December 8, 2015 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C, OxygenOS, oneplus 2, Android

OnePlus is not likely the first source you would think of when purchasing an Android phone but perhaps this review over at Techgage might just change that.  As you can see below the phones are rather attractive and OxygenOS is an interesting flavour of Lollipop 5.1.1.  The charge cable is also an interesting feature, it is USB Type-C, however the cable it ships with is specific to this phone and you should not be charging other USB devices with it as it is out of spec.  While there are advantages to a custom USB cable, there is also some danger associated with it so make sure to keep it separate from your other cables if you intend on picking this phone up.

The hardware includes an 8-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and Adreno 430 GPU powering a 5.5" 1080p IPS screen.  Depending on the model you choose you will either have 16GB local storage and 3GB of DDR4 or 64GB and 4GB.  Techgage liked the phone a lot, with a few caveats; check them out in the full review.

OnePlus-2-Smartphone-Group-Shot-680x432.jpg

"When a smartphone vendor comes along and offers its latest option as a “flagship killer”, it doesn’t exactly leave much room for leeway: it’s either going to be accurate, or off the mark. On paper, the OnePlus 2’s case seems to be solid, so let’s take a hard look at it and see if its promises are lived up to."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Techgage

Be careful where your USB Type-C cords come from

Subject: General Tech | November 5, 2015 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C

The introduction of USB 3 Type C has been welcomed by everyone who has to twist a USB cable three times before it will plug in but that reversible functionality could also pose a risk.  An engineer from that Alphabet company warns that because the new plugs and cords provide 3A power supply the cords have to have the correct resistor present to make sure that the correct amount of power flows through the cord.  After testing a variety of cables from Amazon, Benson Leung discovered some of the cheaper cables consider that resistor optional, skipping it or putting one in which cannot handle that amount of amperage.  This results in magic smoke being released from your shiny, new and expensive machine at worst and flaky connections at best.   Catch up with his testing at The Inquirer and make sure you are picking up cables with a reputable name attached to them.

mGcPM.jpg

"A GOOGLE ENGINEER has warned people to beware of cutting corners with the purchase of the new USB Type-C cables which are set to become the standard over the coming years."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Gigabyte Releases Z170X-UD5 TH Motherboard with Thunderbolt 3

Subject: Motherboards | September 9, 2015 - 12:16 AM |
Tagged: Z170X-UD5 TH, USB 3 Type-C, thunderbolt 3, motherboard, gigabyte

Intel announced Thunderbolt 3 at Computex back in June, and now the technology comes to the desktop enthusiast market with the first Thunderbolt 3 certified motherboard, Gigabyte's Z170X-UD5 TH.

mobo1.jpg

From Gigabyte:

"Powered by Intel’s own Thunderbolt controller the new Thunderbolt 3 protocol, which is available over two USB Type-C connectors on the back I/O of the GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH, brings an unprecedented single-wire bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s -- twice more than the previous generation of Thunderbolt! This incredible increase in bandwidth is also accompanied with support for different protocols such as DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1, which is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, opening up a world of new possibilities."

Supporting dual 4K/60Hz displays (or one 5K display), the Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C offers Power Delivery 2.0 for up to 36W, and you will be able to daisy-chain up to 12 devices given the dual USB Type-C ports.

mobo2.jpg

The Z170X-UD5 TH also features HDMI 2.0 output for the Intel processor graphics, support for PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 and SATA Express storage, and 2-Way SLI or 3-Way CrossFire multi-GPU support.

Some more of the featured specs from Gigabyte include:

  • Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps
  • Intel USB 3.1 with USB Type-C support Power Delivery 2.0 for up to 36W
  • 3-Way Graphics Support with Exclusive Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over the PCIe Slots
  • PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connector with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe & SATA SSD support)
  • 3 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
  • HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz and 21:9 aspect ratio provide the finest viewing experience
  • 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
  • High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
  • Intel GbE LAN with cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software
  • Gold Plating for CPU Socket, Memory DIMMs with 2X Copper PCB

Pricing and availability for the Z170X-UD5 TH are not yet available.

Source: Gigabyte