Challenges of USB 3.1 IP Certification
By Steve Haskell, Sr. Hardware Eng./ Tri Nguyen, Sr. ASIC Dig. Design Eng./ Fuqiang Yan, Sr. ASIC Dig. Design Eng. /Dr. Antonio Salazar, Sr. ASIC Dig. Design Eng.
USB 3.1 Gen 2 significantly increases the effective data rate to 10 Gbps for the ubiquitous USB protocol, while maintaining backward compatibility with USB 3.0 and 2.0. USB 3.1, in combination with USB Type-C and Power Delivery, brings the potential to break paradigms regarding device communication and electrical dependencies, and in a nutshell opens the door to a new generation of designs and products from medical instrumentation, virtual/augmented reality and everyday electronics. That said, the first step to accessing USB 3.1 features and capabilities is for the associated controllers and PHY to pass USB 3.1 Gen 2 certification. Passing certification guarantees proper interoperability among billions of USB-enabled devices around the world.
Although USB is a well-established protocol and one would be hard pressed to find an electronic device that does not have a USB port, the compliance process for USB 3.1 Gen 2 is complex and represents the hardest challenge that USB adopters have to surpass to offer users its high performance. Moreover, early IP implementers have the added challenge of having few devices available in the market for interoperability testing. It is through true industry collaboration and an agile, aggressive approach to compliance that Synopsys was the first IP provider to achieve USB 3.1 Gen 2 compliance. For our experienced engineers, first-time success was quite an accomplishment, but not unexpected.
Synopsys uses an effective prototyping methodology that works hand-in-hand with design and hardware efforts to get our IP certified as early as possible, helping to ensure that our customers achieve certification every time a product with Synopsys IP is taken to a certified test-house. This is of particular importance in the early stages of any standard, when the specification is in its stabilization phase. Synopsys has collaborated with the USB Implementers Forum from the origin of the USB 3.1 standard, participating consistently and continuously in workgroups to develop the standard and address the challenges the standard faces. This constant vigilance is a key factor in Synopsys' success in consistently achieving IP certified earlier than other IP vendors. It also leads to a deep understanding of the issues facing products at certification, empowering Synopsys to ease the possible obstacles that our customers might encounter.
Synopsys' global hardware/design/prototyping/software teams of engineers are active around the clock and the world to address the different roadblocks that are naturally encountered during the initial stages of verification and corresponding compliance, and it is thanks to the in-place methodologies, accumulated knowledge, experience and multipronged collaborative approach that enables Synopsys to adapt and surpass the challenges encountered along the way.