The USB that can finally handle 4K: Type-C for UHD video transfer from phones and other devices

by on March 14, 2016

Stephan Jukic – March 14, 2016

While the vast majority of existing displays, media players, set-top boxes and pretty much every other kind of media/computing device are still stuck with USB’s older versions like 2.0 and 3.0 –with no 4K video ability to speak of– this is on its way towards a major change.

That’s right, USB-C is being seriously moved along and it’s promising some excellent innovations on how 4K video is delivered from a  mobile device to a piece of display technology.

Specifically in this case, Lattice Semiconductor and MediaTek have announced that they’re making advances in the delivery of 4K video over Universal Series Bus (USB) connectors through the newest, most powerful USB-C format. In basic terms, a massively larger amount of information passing through the new connector per second means that any device with USB-C can manage to physically transmit 4K videos to other devices by the most direct means possible.

Thus, your 4K smartphone video will easily become viewable on a 4K TV or 4K PC monitor and sending video from phone, camera or tablet to set-top box, 4K Blu-ray player and game console will become a much simpler tasks.

Best of all, USB-C will also still maintain compatibility with older USB formats, letting you connect the new connectivity format to nearly a billion existing USB device connections for transfer of ordinary media like HD videos, music and files.

The two chipmakers have developed prototypes of a powerful and efficient way of sending 4K Ultra HD videos through smartphones for both console/PC-quality gaming in 4K and for enhanced 4K TV home entertainment via the new USB connector. In other words, USB might soon no longer need to be one of the core bottleneck to transfer of high bandwidth media between different smart devices and high-end display technologies, thanks to its transfer speed of 10Gigapits per second.

USB Type-C from Lattice has already been added to plenty of existing display and media devices

USB Type-C from Lattice has already been added to plenty of existing display and media devices

Other features of the USB-C connection standard being developed by Lattice and MediaTek include:

  • Up to 100w of smart charging
  • Over 10Gbps of transfer speed
  • Reversible connectors
  • Multiple video modes
  • Flexible VDMs for authentication and security

In related developments, Lattice’s USB Type-C port controllers and MHL transceivers can be paired up with partner MediaTek’s Helio X20, which is the “world’s first mobile processor with Tri-Cluster CPU architecture and ten processing cores.”

Additionally, with particular interest for smartphones and 4K, Lattice has developed a SiI8348 MHL transmitter that can be used in connection with MediaTek’s Helio X20 processor to drive 4K video through mobile devices. Then there is also the SiI7033 port controller, which can set up MHL Alt Mode on USB Type –C and Power Data Objects (PDOs) for quickly charging a phone or other device through the connector.

According to C.H. Chee, senior director of consumer marketing at Lattice Semiconductor, “We’re enabling 4K video output on smartphones so users can experience console quality gaming and home entertainment on the latest 4K UHD TVs. We’re delivering the world’s most power-efficient 4K video out solution to make these connectivity use cases a reality without sacrificing battery life, so consumers can have the best of both worlds.”

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