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DisplayPort over USB type C

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Monday, 22 September 2014
in USB 3

I attended the USB 3.1 developer's conference last week in Seattle; but the big news about type C didn't come out until today. 

The VESA press release is here: http://www.vesa.org/news/vesa-brings-displayport-to-new-usb-type-c-connector/.

Interesting points:

  1. This wasn’t mentioned during the USB 3.1 Developer Days last week (not even hinted at)
  2. This may have a dampening effect on display-over-USB technologies such as DisplayLink or the USB AV class
  3. This will compete directly with technologies like MHL, DiiVA, and micro HDMI
  4. The press release is confusing. Today, USB 3.1 (gen1 and gen2 in the new lingo, SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed Plus in the old lingo) can use exactly two lanes (one for TX, one for RX). Support for four lanes is "future". So DisplayPort can readily use the extra two lanes with no effect on existing deployment
  5. DisplayPort over type C does conflict with a use case shown for docking stations last week, using type C, in which PCIe Gen2 was run over the spare two pairs of wires.
  6. So far I see no announcements of silicon support, which is unusual when a new technology specification is announced.

Until Intel, Qualcomm or MediaTek provide support in their system chips, or a third party announces a mux chip, this won't show up in real systems. Silicon support is the key. Watch for responses from Silicon Image and DisplayLink.

(Although this is all over the web, I found this thanks to Tom's Hardware, who posted this: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/displayport-alt-mode-superspeed-usb-3.1-video,27731.html)

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Synopsys demos USB 3.1 support with MCCI's USB host stack

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 September 2014
in USB 3

I'm attending the USB 3.1 Developer Days conference in Seattle, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Synopsys demonstrating USB 3.1 host, talking to a USB 3.1 BOT device, using MCCI's host stack on Windows 8.1. (Click on the picture to see the details.) Yep, 918 megabytes per second, or roughly 7.5 gigabits/sec on the bus.

Note that we're getting 918 MB/sec read speed, roughly twice as fast as MCCI's stack with USB 3.0 host controllers.The really gratifying thing is that no modifications to MCCI's USB host stack were required. If you zoom in on the device manager portion of the screenshot, you'll see that they're using MCCI's host stack, along with MCCI's high-performance mass storage drivers. (Which I've written about before: see "MCCI's UASP and BOT Drivers".) Of course, the Microsoft stack would also have worked; we're pleased they chose to demo using our stack.

Since MCCI's Windows stack consists of our embedded system stack (TrueTask® USB), plus Windows-specific wrappers, this means that our embedded stack can offer similar performance for USB 3.1 systems, in addition to providing the peace of mind of a stack that has been tested at USB-IF PIL, and used by millions of users on Windows systems.

Of course, the kudos should really go to Synopsys -- it's very impressive. Glad we could be a part of it. I'm looking forward to even better performance once we have a chance to tune the software part of the demo.

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Architecting the software for the Catena 1911

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 18 April 2013
in Catena 1910

Series Introduction

This post inaugurates[1] a new series describing how MCCI is approaching converting our Catena 1910 HSIC USB and MIPI.HSI analyzer/generator platform from PCIe to USB 3.0.  I figure it may be interesting (at least to MCCI people) to track, step by step, our thought processes.

The Catena 1911 is the combination of a fairly large FPGA and a compute platform.   Here's the gory detail from the schematic:

The 1910 uses PCIe to connect to a Windows system (through ExpressCard slots, usually). (You can see the product brief here.) The 1911 is a new version of the 1910 that uses PCIe or USB 3.0 -- more on that decision below.)

The remainder of this article is an overview of the system architecture for the 1910 and 1911 to give the interested reader an idea of the size of the problem space.  (The next article will go into the details of the software architecture.)

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How USB 3.0 Host Controller Certification Works

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 16 October 2012
in USB 3

As we announced today, MCCI's customer ASMedia received certification for their xHCI 1.0 host controller.

I thought it would be interesting to summarize how the USB-IF host controller certification process works in practice.

The process starts when the host controller vendor (ASMedia in this case) books a week-long slot at the USB-IF SuperSpeed USB Platform Interoperability Lab (or "PIL"). This lab is located in Portland, Oregon. ASMedia is a USB-IF member company, which is good: slots are only available to member companies.

Slot availability is limited, and demand is high -- this is the only place where you can currently certify SuperSpeed host controllers and hubs. Recently, the lead time seems to be about four to six weeks.

When the scheduled time arrives, companies typically send hardware, software, and system engineers to the PIL to perform testing and debug problems. A number of different tests are performed.  

  • Electrical and low-level tests check the performance of the USB 3.0 PHY.  These are low-level analog tests; they check eye diagrams, bit error rates, and other functions that are handled by low-level hardware.
  • Device functionality tests check the ability to operate specific reference devices correctly. These tests are not limited to plugging in the device and verifying function; they also exercise the devices and the system in various power management scenarios (suspend, hibernate, reboot, shut down).
  • Gold Tree tests check the performance of the host controller when operating a referece tree of hubs and known devices. Again, these tests are not merely functional, but also include power management.

The device functionality tests, and the gold tree tests, require that a Windows-compatible host stack be supplied by the host-controller vendor. This is where MCCI comes in. Standard class drivers from Microsoft and third parties are used over the vendor stack (which we provided to ASMedia). Everything has to work exactly as they work on the reference stack and reference host controller. For high-speed (USB 2.0) devices, the reference host controllers is the EHCI controller; for full-speed and low-speed devices, the reference is the UHCI controller. The reference stack in either case is the Microsoft USB stack.

The point of doing this testing is two fold: it proves that the ASMedia host controller can generate the appropriate bus traffic in response to the many different patterns generated by the devices and their associated class drivers. It also proves that the MCCI stack will operate successfully in all these scenarios, and will emulate the Microsoft USB stack well enough that the class drivers will operate without problems.

A consequence, however, is that the software and hardware are co-tested. Whenever a problem arises, the software developers and hardware developers must work together to determine if the problem is in hardware or software. Then the teams must collaborate to determine the best resolution. Sometimes special software versions must be built to highlight the bug for the hardware team and to make it easier to reproduce. In this case (as at previous PIL tests by our customers), MCCI sent an engineer to work on-site with ASMedia's engineers throughout the PIL process.

Of course, not every test passes initially. The process of getting certification for early hardware and software was frustratingly slow. We'd test for a week, then return to our labs, while we waited for the next available slot. When we returned, we often found that the PIL engineers had improved their tests. This is good for the industry, but frustrating for the engineers; we'd return thinking that all was well, only to learn that new tests were finding new problems.

On the other hand, it means that passing the test is a real accomplishment, both for ASMedia's team and for MCCI's team. Congratulations to all the engineers involved!

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Article in EDN: The Challenges of USB 3.0

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 02 October 2012
in USB 3

EDN yesterday published an article I wrote on USB 3.0 implementation.

http://www.edn.com/design/systems-design/4397531/The-Challenges-of-USB-3-0

The web these days runs on feedback: please let me know what you think.

Tags: USB3
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IDT to buy PLX

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 01 May 2012
in Business

According to EEtimes, IDT is buying PLX for $330 million.

PLX makes a family of USB 3.0 device chips (the USB 3380 and USB 3382) that run over PCIe. MCCI's USB DataPump supports this family.  It's a nice kit part for adding USB 3.0 support to PCIe-capable systems.

MCCI also has used the PLX bridge chips in a variety of ExpressCard products, including the Catena 1820 (bridging to the Renesas R8A66597) and the Catena 1910 (bridging to the Synopsys DesignWare High-Speed USB 2.0 Core).

Tags: USB3
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MCCI's UASP and BOT Drivers

Posted by Terry Moore
Terry Moore
 
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 November 2011
in ExpressDisk BOT

Eric Huang's To USB or Not To USB recently focused on UASP, BOT, and how Asus's USB 3.0 Boost UASP improves the performance of USB 3.0 mass storage devices (both with UASP and with traditional BOT). 

Asus reports that Turbo Mode with USB 3.0 reduces a 137-second operation to 107 seconds, and that UASP reduces the same operation to 75 seconds.  I calculate 27% and 83% transfer rate improvements, respectively

MCCI developed and licenses the UASP driver, the Turbo Mode driver, and the switching technology that allows transparent switching among UASP, Turbo Mode, and normal (fully compatible) mode.  The UASP driver takes advantage of MCCI's Abstract Stream API (described here, available for download here) to get maximum performance from any USB 3.0 host stack that supports the API.  (Of course, MCCI's USB 3.0 host stack for Windows supports the API.)

For more information about MCCI's ExpressDisk™ products, please see this page.

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