Reduce the cost & complexity of USB-C development

31st May 2016
Posted By : Nat Bowers
Reduce the cost & complexity of USB-C development

Silicon Labs has introduced a comprehensive reference design that reduces the cost and complexity of developing cables and cable adapters based on the USB Type-C (USB-C) specification. The reference design features cost-effective, ultra-low-power EFM8 MCUs, USB power delivery protocol stacks certified by the USB-IF (USB Implementation Forum) and USB Billboard Device source code.

The rapid adoption of USB-C in laptops and monitors is driving demand for dongles and adapters to connect with legacy and existing products. Silicon Labs’ reference design provides a complete solution for a USB Type-C to DisplayPort 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.

USB Type-C is the next leap forward in USB technology, capable of supporting higher data speeds (up to 10Gb/s), faster charging via USB power delivery (up to 100W), greater flexibility and smaller form factors than previous generations of USB connectors. End users can charge device batteries, stream audio and video and transfer data using a single 'all-in-one' USB-C cable instead of a confusing array of legacy cables. The ultra-slim USB-C connector features reversible plug and cable orientation, enabling developers to design thinner and sleeker products. USB-C accommodates other interface specifications through USB Alternate Modes. For these reasons, USB-C is poised to become the connector standard of choice for mobile devices, PCs, docking stations, monitors and other consumer electronics products, with an estimated two billion USB-C-enabled devices deployed by 2019, according to IHS.

USB Type-C makes life easier for end users by reducing the number of cables and enabling device interoperability. USB-C also supports multiple protocols and is backwards-compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0 protocols. However, the simplicity and versatility of USB-C technology can pose design challenges for developers because the once-simple inner workings of USB cables, ports, dongles and hubs must now be replaced with more complex embedded components. Silicon Labs addresses this design complexity with a straightforward, easy-to-implement solution that features USB-IF certified USB power delivery silicon and accelerates time to market for USB-C systems.

Jeff Ravencraft, President and Chief Operating Officer, USB-IF, commented: “The proliferation of USB Type-C technology requires a rich ecosystem of hardware and software suppliers providing solutions that enable the process of developing USB-C-compliant products. We welcome Silicon Labs’ new USB-C reference design featuring USB-IF certified USB PD silicon for this growing ecosystem of solutions. Compliance helps to ensure that end products will interoperate with other certified products, providing end users with a seamless connectivity experience.”

“USB Type-C is the interface standard of the future, and Silicon Labs is helping to advance this USB revolution with our new reference design. Smartphones, tablets and laptops with USB-C ports are already available and these pioneering products are just the beginning. Our new reference design eases the complexity of adding USB-C to these applications by providing developers with everything they need to get their new USB designs up and running,” said Tom Pannell, Director of Marketing, MCU products, Silicon Labs.

Silicon Labs’ USB Type-C reference design deliverables (schematics, PD stack library, billboard device source code and sample code) are available now to qualified developers at no charge.


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