USB 3.0 has become the standard high-speed connectivity option for new PCs and consumer devices over the past couple of years – but 2013 has seen a shake-up in technology which has sent the devices back into the spotlight, and promised faster data rates than ever.
In January this year, it was announced that USB 3.0 would be upgraded to support 10Gbps – putting it on a par with Intel’s less common, and more power hungry, Thunderbolt technology. Then in April, Intel announced it was upgrading Thunderbolt to support 20Gbps – challenging the USB 3.0 market once more.
So, needless to say, the talk of peak data rates has inspired much excitement amongst the tech press who clamoured to talk about exactly how quickly you could completely fill a shiny new USB 3.0-enabled portable hard disk. But it quickly became apparent that the theoretical data rates didn’t match up with the actual user experience.
A critical challenge is that signal integrity tends to deteriorate at the higher data speeds enabled by USB 3.0. This problem is aggravated with longer USB cables leading to official recommended lengths of no more than 3 metres – 2 metres less than USB 2.0 cables. The result is a slightly disappointing experience when compared with the much heralded data rates and especially problematic for industrial applications of USB 3.0 where its high speed connectivity is much sought after but longer cable runs are essential.
A redriver solution provides signal equalization on a weakened signal, followed by transmit de-emphasis, which maximizes link performance and improves signal integrity. This has already eliminated the requirement for USB 3.0 cables to be shorter than their USB 2.0 counterparts. By reducing signal degradation, multiplexers allow 10GHz bands to be used, which means you can use port expansion to connect more devices making USB 3.0 even better prepared for the practical realities of modern usage.
If you’d like to learn more about NXP’s USB solutions follow the link or watch this video: