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Take off with Simplified USB Type-C Development

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Introduction

USB Type-CTM is the latest USB connection standard from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). The standard was first released in 2014, and is part of the USB 3.1 standard. USB Type-C is an update to the existing USB standards and is the first to implement the new connector for the USB standard going forward.

USB Type-C represents the next step in USB technology for the computing and consumer electronics industry, featuring higher data speeds (up to 10 Gbps), better power delivery (up to 100 W), greater flexibility and smaller form factors than previous generations of USB connectors. With these expanded capabilities, end users can charge device batteries, stream audio and video, and transfer data using a single universal, “all-in-one” cable instead of a confusing array of legacy cables. USB Type-C also accommodates competing interface specifications through “Alternate Modes.”

With the new connector standard, the resulting ultra-slim plugs can be inserted into receptacle slots with either side up as their connection pins are on both “sides” of the plug, as shown in figures below. This is a very meaningful advance over other standards and renders many of the cables in users’ drawers obsolete. Users will not have to dig through their “cable drawer” to find the right cable for a hard drive or camera to connect to a PC. USB Type-C handles high-speed data, video, and large amounts of power for device charging and power supplies.

For these reasons, USB Type-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 Type-Cenabled devices deployed by 2019, according to IHS.

However, USB Type-C’s versatility comes at a cost: USB’s once-simple inner workings have been replaced by more complex embedded components. A seemingly straightforward cable can now be quite difficult to design because of the required USB Type-C functionality.

 

Two main complications arise when developing Type-C solutions.

- The first is handling the wide range of power the new interface can provide. When two devices are connected, the power delivery protocol (PD protocol) is initiated. The PD protocol involves a negotiation to determine the amount of power delivered, and which device will be the provider or consumer of that power. Since this communication requires detecting, reading, and processing analog and digital signals, MCU functionality via an embedded MCU within the host port, cable, or dongle is required.

- The second is avoiding communication failures that can occur due to the increase in supported communication standards. Failures can occur when devices or hosts do not support each other and cannot establish communication. These failures are detected and then communicated to the host and require further MCU functionality.

 

We explore USB Type-C further below, including some of the standard’s nuances, and how to implement it most efficiently.

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USB Type-C

Basics USB ports and cables currently include Micro, Mini, Type-A, Type-B, and others. This causes confusion since a mobile phone has a different port than a laptop, which has a different port than a digital camera, and so on. USB Type-C consolidates these connections into one standard, covering most devices and increasing usability. Almost all accessories, including monitors, headphones, chargers, and keyboards will be able to use USB Type-C to communicate with computers, tablets, smart phones, etc.

 

Download and read the complete white paper here.