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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


New Tech Tuesdays: Using USB4® Is Like Finding More Fast Lanes on Highways Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

USB4® has only been on the scene for the past few years, but in a short time, its introduction made an impact. The fifth modification of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) criteria meant increased bandwidth, opening possibilities for design engineers and everyday users.

The highlight of the USB4 standard has been its dual-lane 40Gbps speed. It's like a second fast lane has opened up on a freeway—and we all longed for that, didn't we?

USB4 doubled the speed of the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, which is a data transfer level previously only available to those using Thunderbolt 3 technology. Data is transmitted in two sets of four bidirectional lanes. In contrast to USB 3.2, the new standard allows tunneling of DisplayPort 2.0 (which supports 8K resolution at 60Hz) and PCI Express®. USB4 also uses the same USB Type-C® form factor connector and is backward compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt 3's 40Gbps transfer rate has been a boon for creative professionals and power users, allowing for streamlined video editing, animation, and modeling workflows. It also enabled the introduction of product categories such as external graphic processing units (GPUs).

Having Thunderbolt 3 as a universal connection brought these capabilities to consumers, making data backups and transfers a faster and easier experience. Suppose a video needs only 20 percent of the bandwidth to drive a 1080p monitor that's also a hub. In that case, the other 80 percent will be free for transferring files to an external SSD, which can operate over either USB protocol or PCIe.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at USB4 products from JAE Electronics, NXP Semiconductors, TE Connectivity, and Amphenol Commercial.

Get Connected with These Products

TE Connectivity's (TE) USB 4.0 Gen 3 Receptacle Connectors are backward-compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.x, and USB 2.0 connectors. USB 4.0 receptacle connectors transfer data up to 40Gbps and are designed with an advanced insert molding process that helps avoid pin-warping. These durable connectors feature a liquid crystal polymer housing, stainless steel shell, and copper alloy contacts that allow strong signal integrity in harsh environments. They're built for optimal performance for next-generation applications that leverage artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that require high data speeds. Designers will find the connectors customizable with specialized soldering pin lengths, shell leg lengths, and available plating materials.

JAE Electronics USB4 40Gbps DX07 Right Angle Connectors are USB Type-C compatible and can be used in various consumer and industrial devices that require power and serial data interface. Designers will find the connectors ideal for personal computers, tablets, augmented and virtual reality headsets, gaming consoles, docking stations, and solid-state drives. The connectors are compatible with the USB4 specification and a two-row surface-mount type receptacle connector that can support data rates of up to 40Gps.

NXP Semiconductors PTN38007 Multi-protocol USB4 20Gbps Linear Redriver is optimized for USB3.2, DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt3/USB4 applications on either the downstream facing port (DFP) or upstream facing port (UFP) application. The PTN38007 addresses high-speed signal quality enhancement requirements for USB Type-C interface implementation in platforms that support USB Type-C, VESA DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt Alternate Modes. In addition, this device snoops the sideband signals from DP mode (AUX) and Thunderbolt 3/USB4 mode (SBTX/RX) to optimize the configuration, power-saving mode, and performance.

Amphenol Commercial USB 4 Gen 3 Type C Connectors combine power charging, tunneling USB, PCIe® data transfer, DisplayPort video, and audio capability in a single Type C connector. The copper-alloy connectors, which have a power delivery of up to 100W, are also compatible with the Thunderbolt™ 4 interface and have data-transmission rates of up to 40Gbps. They're capable of driving multiple 4K ultra-high-definition 60Hz displays. A reversible plug and cable orientation allow for better product design.

Tuesday's Takeaway

USB4 doubles the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, which was previously only available to users of Thunderbolt 3 technology. USB4 enables faster speeds and better video bandwidth management, as well as Thunderbolt 3 compatibility. It's like getting on a freeway and discovering new fast lanes.



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Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.


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