MADISON, Wis. — Lattice Semiconductor, which acquired Silicon Image earlier this year, is mining the connectivity market in pursuit of higher resolution and faster frame-rate solutions for mobile, consumer electronics and computers.
USB Type C
Armed with MHL and now with SuperMHL technologies — both from Silicon Image — Lattice introduced Monday (Aug. 3) superMHL chips designed to work over USB Type C connectors.
According to Lattice, the pairing of its low-power superMHL transmitter and receiver chips — SiI8630 and SiI9396 — is the first superMHL solution for USB Type-C. It can deliver 4K 60 frames-per-second video, “concurrently with USB 3.1 data,” said Abdullah Raouf, senior marketing manager for Lattice Semiconductor.
Lattice’s strategy is to push superMHL by piggybacking on the emergence of USB Type C, whose small, reversible connector is anticipated to grow by many industry analysts. Lattice’s big bet is on the USB Type C “alt mode” that allows video. Today, only three connectivity standards are approved for video delivery using Type C alt mode, said Raouf. The superMHL is one of them. The others are DisplayPort 1.3 and Thunderbolt 3.
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While both Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and superMHL are capable of delivering 4K 60fps video with concurrent USB 3.1, Lattice claims that Thunderbolt and DisplayPort fall short in features that include power charging via MHL display and remote control command pass through (necessary for TV remote). SuperMHL can do both.
(Source: Lattice Semiconductor)
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Will the world coalesce around USB Type C?
Although current adoption of USB Type C is limited to Apple’s MacBook and Google’s Chromebook, industry analysts are optimistic about the new port. Brian O’Rourke, senior principal analyst, consumer devices and MEMS & sensors, at IHS Technology, told EE Times that although IHS has no forecast for it yet, USB Type C “offers great advantages over traditional USB, including increased data rates, alternate modes, and increased power capability.” He expects USB Type C to start flooding the mobile market, “primarily due to the ability to deliver up to 100 watts of power, which will greatly reduce charging time.”
More important, USB Type C with its alt modes could “bring some ‘consolidation’ in the connector market in that consumers will eventually be able to purchase one cable,” observed Michael Inouye, principal analyst at ABI Research.
The wired connectivity market remains a tangled web of different cables and plugs that range from HDMI, DisplayPort and MHL to USB and microUSB. In this climate, the notion of a consolidation is a welcome change. Yet, its execution is easier said than done, because different markets (computing, TVs and mobile) have chosen different connectors.
ABI Research’s Inouye said, “Historically speaking MHL gained healthy support from the mobile and TV manufacturers because it was designed for and targeted the CE market (rather than computing) — largely due to its strong support for HDMI on the TV side.”
How USB Type C can leverage MHL ecosystem
(Source: Lattice Semiconductor)
In the past, “there were some smartphones that included micro HDMI ports along with micro USB for charging,” he noted. “But most manufacturers moved to a one port design which eliminated the possibility for a separate video port. Besides, MHL allowed for charging which helped when watching longer videos.”
Next page: Fanciful scenario?