USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet; controller for laptops, docking stations

August 19, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
This high-throughput, low-power USB 3.0 controller is designed to bring seamless connectivity to laptops and docks; Cypress’ EZ-USB GX3 controller is specifically aimed at products migrating to thin USB Type-C ports, and slimmer system designs that exclude ‘bulky’ Ethernet ports

Cypress Semiconductor’s SuperSpeed USB controller converts Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) data to USB 3.0 data. GX3 provides comprehensive driver support for all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android and Chrome, enabling seamless plug-and-play operation via a USB 3.0 port on any system, including laptops, tablets, docking stations, IP set-top boxes and smart TVs.

Conventional USB 3.0 to GigE bridge solutions, says Cypress, present designers with limited throughput performance and power management challenges. For throughput, converting GigE data packets to USB 3.0 data packets reduces the throughput of conventional USB 3.0 to GigE bridge controllers to around 700-800 Mbps. EZ-USB GX3 uses a proprietary data transfer mechanism that sends multiple GigE data packets in bursts over USB to provide 910 Mbps throughput, which is comparable to the 950-Mbps throughput of native GigE solutions. For power, it is difficult for a conventional USB 3.0 to GigE solution to support low-power modes of both the USB 3.0 and GigE standards, but GX3 offers a power-efficient solution for both with multiple power-saving modes.

“The Apple® MacBook eliminated the Ethernet port years ago, and Ultrabooks and Chromebooks have followed suit, but consumers still want GigE connectivity to stream HD content and for other applications requiring high-bandwidth,” said Mark Fu, Senior Marketing Director of the USB 3.0 product line at Cypress. “Our EZ-USB GX3 solution seamlessly brings high-throughput GigE connectivity to any USB 3.0 system, whether via a standard USB Type-A port or the new USB Type-C port. GX3 further strengthens our SuperSpeed USB portfolio, and in conjunction with our programmable EZ-PD USB Type-C Power Delivery solutions and our EZ-USB HX3 USB 3.0 Hub, Cypress can now enable a true one-cable docking solution for laptops, tablets and other portable devices.”

The EZ-USB GX3 controller includes on-chip Gigabit Ethernet MAC and PHY support 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet and other advanced power management features, including Wake-on-LAN, dynamic power saving modes during idle or light traffic, and