Posts Tagged ‘PHY’


USB Power Delivery: looking for a tester?

March 6, 2014

I attended the USB Power Delivery Interoperability event in Portland on middle of Jan. The opportunity was to test the CT20600 USB-PD complete solution from Canova Tech.

During the test sessions, I had the opportunity to touch the new USB test solution from Ellisys, a worldwide leader in protocol test and analysis solutions. The USB Explorer 350, just announced in the company news,  is intended for technology developers working on products employing features specified in the recently released USB Power Delivery specification.

Ellisys EX350

Waiting for the USB Power Delivery compliance procedures delivery from, the USB Explorer 350 could be a valid and powerful instrumentation helping developers to characterize protocol compliance of silicon, software, and systems and to verify corner case communications. The device can be configured to play as a protocol analyze by sniffing the communication between two USB-PD devices or as emulator (producer or consumer).


It comes with a powerful software GUI that enable a complete monitor, analysis and control of the communication protocol. For a detailed description and list of features, please check product page.

A USB-PD Analyzer and Emulator is a great tool for developers and designer to test their products and to be ready for final product qualification and compliance tests. The Ellisys  USB Explorer 350 is the first solution in the market, most probably not the only one in the short term. I’ll check the web for other solutions and/or similar products.


USB Recharge port on HP Chromebook 11: One port to rule them all

October 14, 2013

A newborn  just enter entered in the always growing family of Chromebook devices: the HP Chromebook 11.


What captured my attention is the unusual charge solution: not anymore hp-chromebook-11-micro-usba dedicated jack to connect an external charger, but a microUSB, as described by JR Raphael in his review. Like our portable devices, smartphones or tabled. This is a great news in my perspective, at least for two reasons.


It is the first step to standardize the recharger mechanism: no more custom and proprietary jacks and charger, but an universal main adapter with USB connection compatible with all our device, hopefully with more then one USB port to recharge many device at a time. One Ring to rule them all. This will impact the final price of the device, too.

Power Flexibility

A single connector will simplify our life. But soon users will ask to have more flexibility. To recharge batteries in a faster mode delivering more power and to use this port to recharge portable device as well, or to supply external peripherals. In one word, USB Power Delivery technology. Able to deliver up to 100w over USB cable.


This device is the first step in the direction of simplifying our life among different and proprietary chargers, jacks and connectors. I hope to see more device implementing this bold solution with a step forward toward USB power delivery and more peripherals and devices taking advantage from this technology.


USB Power Delivery at the Intel IDF13 in San Francisco

September 30, 2013

I attended in San Francisco the Intel Development Forum 2013 (IDF13).

My interest was obviously for the USB Power Delivery and my target was to establish new contacts with the USB-PD players and to collect information of new or incoming products.


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Developing a USB Power Delivery device? Let’s talk about solutions!

July 1, 2013

Are you thinking to develop or evaluate an USB-PD device? If yes, I’m sure the first problem you are facing is the unavailability of USB-PD semiconductor solutions to build your concept board and of USB-PD enabled products to be used as peer for your system (at least at this date). This is for sure a major issue to assess the system requirements and to evaluate the performances. The possibility to have a USB-PD evaluation board permits the engineering team to start playing with this new protocol, to build the system and to start the implementation and debug of the high level functionalities.

Up to date two solutions are available in the market: one coming from Obsidian Technology and one from Canova Tech.

Everything I know about Obsidian can be found in the website. They came as first in the market with an USB-PD solution and they are offering an USB-PD development board  (OTS9102) based on a proprietary IC (OTI9121) implementing the physical layer (PHY).


More I can say about Canova Tech (sorry, it’s the company I’m working for!). It’s currently developing an USB-PD PHY block, the CT20600.

The CT20600 is a USB-PD compliant PHY IP implementing all the features described in the current USB-PD specifications. The block can be integrated in a more complex power management unit (see previous post) or in standalone device for cost sensitive applications. The CT20600 can be ported to most of the analog CMOS processes available in the market.

CT20600 DVLP Board 1V1

A development board has been developed in order to assess the architecture and to implement the digital blocks of the PHY and the upper layers, like the protocol layer. Waiting for the incoming silicon samples, at the moment the board v1.1 implements the analog parts of the USB-PD PHY using discrete components and the digital blocks in a FPGA.

A detailed description of this board will follow soon.

Any comment and feedback is welcome.
Stay tuned.


USB Power Delivery on Battery Operated Devices [Group 1]

June 19, 2013

A previous post proposed a possible categorization of all the devices potentially involved on the new incoming  USB Power Delivery:

  1. Battery operated and complex devices, like smartphones, tablets, portable PCs, cameras
  2. USB peripherals, like external hard disks, printers or usb
  3. No-USB peripherals with <100W power consumption like monitors, toys and gadgets
  4. Power supply devices like wall chargers, power bricks.

Each category has different needs, requirements and constraints and it’s logic to foreseen for the USB-PD different possible implementations and implications in the system architecture.

Let’s start with the 1st category, the most complex.

Battery Operated Devices

This category includes all the devices with a battery as primary power source and with a USB port used for secondary energy source for battery recharge. This is clearly the most complex device, as it can play as an energy consumer (during internal battery recharge) or as an energy provider (in case, for example, of supplying an external hard disk). I’m clearly referring to Tablets, smartphones and portable PCs. They have already complex power policies and strategies and one or more USB ports for data communication. So not a big issue to integrate a USB-PD feature in such devices. Quite easy from a mechanical point of view, but it’s worth to discuss deeper the possible electronic implementations.

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USB Power Delivery – A System Point of View

May 18, 2013

The emerging USB Power delivery standard opens new and exciting scenarios in the consumer market. It will change the way we are dealing daily with our portable devices. We will charge much faster our tablet, smartphone or supply our portable PC or USB interfaces without any secondary energy source. All with a standard connector, as the European Union is requiring. Our life is going to be simplified!CHARGER_CONNECTORS

This welcome and long waited feature will have anyhow a deep impact in the architecture of the power manager of each device, like  battery operated devices, tablet, smartphone, USB peripherals, monitors and chargers. And more important, each device in this scenario requires dedicated approaches and implementations with different level of integration.

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HowTo qualify an USB Power Delivery PHY

April 23, 2013

As far as I know, no USB Power Delivery products are available on the market and no standard or ASSP ICs can be found yet. Most  probably the major semiconductor companies are hard working to deliver soon solutions for this new standard and fabless semiconductor companies are ready to offer dedicated IP (e.g. CT20660 from Canova Tech).

USB EYEAs any USB product, compliance and interoperability tests should be performed in order to grant the requested level of compatibility with any compliant solution. The USB-IF defines a Compliance Program that provides reasonable measures of acceptability. Products that pass this level of acceptability are added to the Integrators List. You can check the  USB-IF Compliance Updates webpage for any news and update.

Two ways are available to have your product in this Integration List:

  1. participating in the USB-IF Sponsored Compliance Workshops
  2. contacting one of the Independent Test Labs.

Please check the website for more information.

Before submitting your products to compliance tests, it’s important and warmly encouraged by the USB-IF itself to run internally tests procedure to validate the solution. Normally the USB-IF delivers for any USB standard a list of test procedures and a test setup description to validate your design and debug it with a standard set of tests. This is very important and really crucial for new designs, especially in the case of a new USB standard without available alternative solutions to make comparisons and interoperability tests.

Unfortunately, up to day the USB-IF did not release yet the test procedures for the USB-PD delivery and there is no date for the delivery of such documentation.  See below the extract on the USB Power delivery page:

Compliance testing for products conforming to the Power Delivery Specification and the related Power Delivery icons are currently under development. More details to be added here later.”

Well, the USB-PD icon delivering is less important. Agreed.

I will continuously check the USB-IF webpage for any news and and I’m constantly  looking for any alternative and viable way to perform in-house preliminary compliance tests.

Keep tuned.