First published 5.31.2016
There’s no denying the role connectivity plays in regards to devices and how efficiently they communicate information. While wireless capabilities continue to make headlines, there’s still a great deal of value in wired specifications, first and foremost with USB connections.
USB connectors are easy to confuse. They’ve come in many shapes and sizes over the years beginning with Mini, Micro, Type-A, Type-B and now Type-C. For reference, a USB type simply refers to the shape of the ports and plugs while the version, such as 1.1, 2.0, or the current USB 3.1, usually denotes speed. The Type-A connector connects into a host, such as a laptop, while the Type-B connector plugs into a peripheral device. Type-A is always the flat and wide connector shown in the figure below while Type-B can show up in many different shapes due to the differences in devices it connects into.
USB Type-C was first introduced in 2014, implemented to some degree in 2015 (more notably on Macbooks), and is increasingly becoming a standard for many devices in 2016. It’s being called “a leap forward” in connectivity and for good reason.
USB Type-C separates itself from its predecessors because it:
Though it can handle a wide variety of tasks that previously took multiple cables, Type-C’s versatility comes at a cost because USB’s once-simple inner workings of cables, ports, dongles, and hubs have been replaced by more complex embedded components. There are two main complications that arise when developing Type-C solutions. The first relates to power distribution. A Type-C connector can send or receive up to 100W of power, but this can be a problem for devices that don’t require that much power.
The second common roadblock when developing a Type-C solution deals with the potential for communication failures due to the increase in supported communication standards. Since communication between hosts and devices requires detecting and processing digital and analog signals, an embedded MCU is required. Silicon Labs can alleviate these issues through the creation of it’s new MCU, which integrates more functionalities in a package as small as 3X3 mm².
Although it’s clear USB Type-C represents a new wave of enhanced connectivity, it unfortunately can cause problems for developers and designers. To learn more about how we’re simplifying Type-C development, download this whitepaper.
We’ve also released a comprehensive reference design featuring cost-effective, ultra-low-power EFM8 microcontrollers (MCUs), USB Power Delivery (PD) protocol stacks certified by the USB Implementation Forum (USB-IF), and USB Billboard Device source code.
Our reference design provides a complete solution for a USB Type-C to DisplayPort (DP) adapter, making it easy to communicate with legacy products that do not support USB-C. Available to qualified developers at no charge, the reference design includes schematics, software libraries and stacks, source code, code examples and access to Simplicity Studio™ development tools, enabling developers to design USB-C cables and adapters quickly, easily and at minimal cost.
Get all the details about the USB Type-C reference design including software stacks, schematics, documentation, tools, and EFM8 MCU information at www.silabs.com/usb-type-c.