Smart Hub broadens application space of USB3.0 Hubs

June 03, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Microchip Technology’s USB3.0 Smart Hub family reduces system BOM and design complexity; the USB-IF logo-certified hubs offer best-available signal integrity for more robust PCB designs. Direct bridging enables upstream host controller communication to external peripherals, while an integrated microcontroller offers improved control from the USB host hardware.

Microchip says it has the first USB3.0 Smart Hubs that enable host and device port swapping, I/O bridging, and various other serial communication interfaces. The USB5734 and USB5744 have an integrated MCU that enables new functionality for USB hubs while lowering overall BOM costs and reducing software complexity. The USB5734/44 family is USB-IF logo certified (TID 330000058) and features highest signal integrity enabling more robust PCB designs and reducing sensitivities to cable, connector and layout variations.

A Smart Hub is a USB hub that integrates system-level functions typically associated with a separate MCU or processor. Microchip’s USB3.0 Smart Hubs enable the upstream host controller to communicate to numerous types of external peripherals beyond the USB connection through direct bridging from USB to I ²C, SPI, UART and GPIO interfaces. This integrated functionality can greatly reduce the complexity of system design by eliminating the need for an additional external microcontroller, while providing improved control from the USB host hardware.

Microchip’s FlexConnect technology provides the USB5734 Smart Hub with the ability to dynamically swap between a USB host and a USB device through hardware and/or software system commands giving the new USB host access to downstream resources.

FlexConnect can also switch common downstream resources between two different USB hosts. Incorporating FlexConnect into a system simplifies the overall software requirements of the primary host, as class drivers and application software stay local to the Device-turned-Host.

System developers can configure ports and choose application settings with low-cost resistor bootstraps. If more advanced functionality is required, the USB5734/44 can be configured and programmed with Microchip’s configuration tool, ProTouch2.

The USB5734 and USB5744 USB3.0 controller hubs serve a wide range of applications in the computing, embedded, medical, industrial and networking markets. Examples of end applications include HDTV, tablets, notebooks, eReaders, cameras, docking stations, monitors, handheld devices, point-of-sale equipment, ATMs, set-top boxes, break-out boxes and motion sensors. Available in a 56-pin, 7 x 7 mm package,