Category Archives: cables

USB, THE FOURTH

The USB standard has a long and eventful history. Now USB 4 promises to bring clarity to the specification chaos and simplify the use of cables and devices.

Since its introduction in 1996, Universal Serial Bus, or USB for short, has established itself as a universal and indispensable IT interface for all computer peripherals. Many of the previously existing peripheral interfaces have long since become history (ADB, PS/2, SCSI, LVD, IEEE 1284, etc.). Others, such as RS-232, now only have a niche existence in the industrial sector. Throughout the 23 year history of the USB interface there have been many hurdles and obstacles, but potential competitors such as Firewire, which was supposed to correct some of USB’s weaknesses, have simply been pushed out of the market by the sheer ubiquity of USB. Others, such as Thunderbolt, are now part of USB 4.

USB Success Story

The development and release of USB 1.0 was based on the idea of creating a way to connect computer peripherals using one standardized port. What today appears to be a matter of course was then a futuristic idea because of the multitude of different interfaces then in use. These were all replaced by USB. Key factors in the reason for USB’s success were new ideas such as Plug & Play, the support for hot-plugging devices, ease of use, and data transfer rates of up to 12 Mbps, which were quite high at the time.

The USB connector has changed several times over the decades.

USB technology has undergone multiple developments throughout its lifespan. Version 1.1 brought corrections to minor specification errors; In 2000, USB 2.0 increased the transfer rate to 480Mbps, USB 3.0 arrived with a 5Gbps data rate and new extended connectors. These advancements were built upon further by USB 3.1 in 2013, which has a data rate of 10Gbps, and USB 3.2 with 20Gbps at the end of 2017. This constant increase in data transfer rates has enabled potential USB competitors to be pushed out of markets, or at least kept in check, with only time-critical, niche applications using other standards.

Lightning and Thunderbolt

From 2011, however, a new system appeared on the scene: Thunderbolt. Mechanically and electrically engineered based on the DisplayPort (DP) technology standard and designed by Intel in cooperation with Apple. Thunderbolt extended DisplayPort, a pure AV interface, by adding a bidirectional data channel based on PCI Express.

Thunderbolt uses active electronics in its connectors, hiding the physical layer from the host and devices. The first two versions of Thunderbolt used a specialist DP connector, the Mini-DP connector introduced by Apple. However, Thunderbolt 3 then adopted the USB connector type C, which was introduced alongside USB 3.1. USB C can be connected regardless of orientation and was miniaturised even further.

With initial speeds double that of USB 3.0, Thunderbolt was a serious competitor to USB from the beginning. However, due to the market spread of USB and the much cheaper hardware that could be produced for this standard, Thunderbolt failed to gain any meaningful gains over USB.

Turning Two into One

At the beginning of 2019, Intel and the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced the transfer of the protocol specifications from Thunderbolt to the USB-IF. Towards the end of the 3rd quarter of 2019 the convergence was completed with the newly published standard, USB 4 (Enhanced Superspeed), which combines the best of both worlds under the guise of USB. Thunderbolt gave the new specification a maximum transmission speed of 40 Gbps – twice as fast as the USB 3.2! USB, on the other hand, contributed the tree structure of the entire system made possible using hubs, because Thunderbolt devices could previously only be connected in a chain.

The transmission speeds have massively increased over the generations.

USB has become a great deal more complex now that it must incorporate the bidirectional PCIe protocol inherited from Thunderbolt 3 in addition to the Enhanced SuperSpeed signals. It must also be able to handle the DisplayPort Alternate Mode for AV transmission, which has been possible with Thunderbolt since the beginning and with USB since version 3.1. Moreover, it must still maintain USB 2.0 protocol support for downward compatibility.

The whole and the sum of its parts

That’s a whole lot of different protocols! So that USB 4 host adapters and hubs can handle them all, they contain a USB Enhanced Superspeed host, USB 2.0 hosts or hubs, a PCIe controller or switch and a DisplayPort adapter as internal modules. The interaction between these modules is controlled and coordinated by a further internal component in each of the hosts, hubs and devices, called the router.

With USB 4, the Type C connector will become the standard.

The Type C connector has been retained from USB Version 3.1 and TB3. It was introduced in the wake of USB 3.1, but independently of it, and enables alternate mode: switching from pure USB or Thunderbolt data output to DisplayPort signals. The wire pairs intended for data transfer are then used completely or partially for the transfer of AV data. Thus, not only peripheral devices, but also monitors and projectors can be connected.

USB 4 allows a maximum of 40 Gbps as defined for TB3 specifications, but it is less binding to that specification. This means that USB 4 does not necessarily have to be fully downward compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices. These will run on any USB 4 host, but at a reduced speed of 20 GBps. Users will need to take a close look at what’s possible when buying hardware. Whether a USB 4 host can deliver the full 40 Gbps or not will probably be a question of cost, at least for first one or two generations of host adapters available on the market.

Naming conventions simplified

The designation scheme used since USB 3.1 needs some getting used to. Before this version, the speeds were directly assigned from the USB version number (USB 2.0 with 480 Mbps, USB 3.0 with 5 Gbps), but since version 3.1 one had to take a closer look.

The symbols for USB and Thunderbolt standard

With the introduction of USB 3.1…

  • USB 3.0 with 5 Gbps was identified as USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Gen for Generation)
  • USB 3.1 with 10 Gbps was known as USB 3.1 Gen 2

With the introduction of USB 3.2…

  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 with 5 Gbps was now called USB 3.2 Gen 1 (It uses a Gen 1 wire pair with 5 Gbps)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 with 10 Gbps is now called USB 3.2 Gen 2 (It uses a Gen 2 wire pair with 10 Gbps)
  • USB 3.2 with 20 Gbps is called USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (because it uses two Gen 2 wire pairs with 10 Gbps each)

You can see how this naming scheme becomes visible: each new USB version contains the previous ones and distinguishes the data rates by the corresponding ‘Gen’ version. Whether this scheme will continue with USB 4 and whether the older 3.x versions will be adapted by name is not yet clear, but the following is certain:

  • USB 4 with 40 Gbps is called USB 4 Gen 3×2 (because it uses two wire pairs of the new Gen 3 with 20 Gbps each)
  • USB 4 with 20 Gbps is called USB 4 Gen 2×2 (because it uses two pairs of wires of Gen 2 with 10 Gbps each)

Full takeover: Power Delivery

The latest version of the Standard Power Delivery, which negotiates and regulates the power supply between host, hubs and devices both under USB version 3.1 Gen 2 and higher and under Thunderbolt 3 (i.e. all versions using the type C connector), has been completely adopted in USB 4.

Profiles of voltage and current (5V/2A, 12V/1.5A, 12V/3A, 20V3A or 20V/5A) and supply direction are negotiated. All cables that can withstand more than the 1.5A provided for the profile with the lowest current load must announce this via a so-called e-mark chip so that the correct profile can be negotiated.

This makes it possible, for example, to connect a power supply unit with a USB type C plug to the PD-enabled USB port of a hub or docking station and connect it to a notebook via a single USB type C cable. With the right equipment, the peripherals are now clearer and the cable clutter on the desk is significantly reduced.

What does all this mean for the user?

USB 4 and the merger of USB with Thunderbolt are nothing more than the implementation of market requirements for higher bandwidths as well as uniform and universal standards. The implementation for the transfer of 40 Gbps and the unification of the two standards under the umbrella of USB is a decisive step.

Once USB 4 is fully established in the market, and provided that the user owns those USB devices that support full USB 4 functionality, life with USB will probably become easier. In the medium to long term, there will only be one type C connector for all peripherals. Devices with other connectors will eventually disappear or require the use of an adapter.

Until then, however, buyers are forced to keep their eyes open and take a very close look at the manufacturer’s specifications regarding the speed (Gen-Postfix for the USB version) and PD capability of the individual components of the hardware they wish to purchase.

The Author

Axel Kerber has been immersed in the IT and AV industry for over 25 years. Over the course of his career at Lindy his roles have included Technical Support Engineer, Product Manager, Head of Technical Support and now, Technical Editor. He is constantly in touch with the latest technology trends and he remains fascinated and excited by developments in connectivity in the constantly evolving AV and IT sectors.

The LINDY Guide to USB 3.1

WHAT IS USB 3.1?

USB 3.1 is the new standard of USB connection technology. The USB 3.1 standard includes a  number of new features, most notably SuperSpeed+ or Gen2 data speed. SuperSpeed+ allows USB 3.1 to transfer data at a speed of 10 Gbps. This means USB 3.1 can transfer a year’s worth of music in just 10 minutes or a Full HD movie in just 30 seconds. The new standard also allows USB 3.1 to provide power delivery, alternate video mode and data transfer through a single cable.

REVERSIBLE

At the same time as the new USB 3.1 standard, the new reversible Type C connector was also developed. This connector comes with many new features, the main benefit being that it is now reversible so no matter which orientation the cable is inserted, you will always find a connection. This new technology allows a fully bi-directional cable with automatic Host and Device negotiation.USB 3.1 Type C Reversible Connector

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USB-C AND USB 3.1?

USB 3.1 and USB-C, though developed concurrently, are not the same thing. USB 3.1 is an upgrade over the older USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 technology. USB 3.1 allows faster data transfer in comparison to these two previous versions. USB 3.1 is a new USB technology whilst USB-C is a connector which facilitates this technology.

USB 3.1 POWER DELIVERY

USB Type C cables support 20V 3A (60w) of power, however a new charging standard named PD (Power Delivery) has been released which can offer up to 100w (20V at 5A). New cables are required to take advantage of this technology and these use an embedded chip (e-marker) to manage power control, while still providing the SuperSpeed+ 10Gbps
data link and backwards compatibility.USB 3.1 Power Delivery

USB 3.1 Power Delivery provides different rules for supplying power. The rules are automatically recognized and negotiated between the host, cable, and device. These systems require the use of active cables to allow the devices to “communicate” which rule is suitable and protect against overload.

USB 3.1 power delivery is not only suitable for notebooks but also other professional devices with a power consumption of up to 100 watts. PD can be maintained even when the USB-C connection is being used for data transfer, video or Ethernet.

USB 3.1 ALTERNATE MODE

Provides up to 100W, 5Gbps USB data transfer rates, and the simultaneous transfer of 4K video and audio data.

By using the Type C connection USB 3.1 also allows an alternate mode for additional functionality. This allows features like DisplayPort, HDMI, MHL or Thunderbolt. Please note however that the Host and Device must both support the same alternate mode.

DisplayPort Alternate Mode supports resolutions up to Ultra HD 4K 3840 x 2160. Alongside Simultaneous 4K Video & 5Gbps transfer rates.

USB 3.1 Alternate Mode

IS USB 3.1 BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE?

USB 3.1 now supports up to 10Gbps speeds whilst remaining backwards compatible with the previous 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1 / USB 3.0) and 480Mbps (USB 2.0) standards. USB 3.1 Gen 2 also works with existing USB 3.0 connections thanks to the improved encoding method used to transmit data.

Type C has been designed in such a way it is able to operate with legacy connections via an adapter or converter cable. However not all features are available unless you use Type C on both ends.USB 3.1 Backwards Compatibility

HOW DO I RECOGNISE A USB 3.1 CABLE?

The connector for USB-C is slightly smaller than previous USB standards and looks similar to a Micro-USB connector.

USB 3.1 Connector Types

WHERE WILL I FIND 3.1 TYPE C?

Most new mobile phones, tablets and laptops are now supplied with a Type C port whether it’s for charging or data transfer. One big advantage is that you no longer have proprietary chargers and you can use one charger for all your devices. USB Type C was originally used on Notebooks and in the tablet phone market before filtering through to more mainstream devices.

USB 3.1 Devices

IS THUNDERBOLT THE SAME AS USB 3.1?

Thunderbolt is the connection and power delivery technology used by Apple to charge and deliver data to their products such as Macbooks and iMacs. USB-C is now the connector that is used with the latest Thunderbolt 3 technology. This allows Thunderbolt and USB-C to combine for an amazing 40Gbps of bandwidth. Thunderbolt 3 also uses the Type C port, however this port also offers additional functions that require specific Thunderbolt 3 Type C cables.

Using Thunderbolt 3 a single USB-C port can deliver power in both directions. So a port can charge a device or, alternatively, be charged by one. USB-C and Thunderbolt are capable of delivering up to 100 watts of power, so a single cable can be used to connect to a dock, or display, whilst your Apple device is charged simultaneously.

USB 3.1 & Thunderbolt
DISCOVER OUR USB 3.1 RANGE…

USB 3.1 CablesUSB 3.1 Adapters

USB 3.1 HubsUSB 3.1 Docking Station

IEC Connector & Cable Guide

We often find that people are unsure of the difference between mains power cables, or what the IEC standards are. Put simply, the standards define the mechanical, electrical and thermal requirements and safety goals of power couplers.

IEC Cables

There are 12 IEC connectors by shape; each has a different name for the Male or Female side. For example C7 is male and C8 is female, but both have the same shape connector.

Below you can find a list of the IEC connectors we supply, and a diagram of each.

C5 / C6
C5-C6
Widely used for laptop power supplies, also known as the “Mickey Mouse” or “Cloverleaf” connector. View the range of LINDY C5/C6 IEC mains cables by clicking here

C7 / C8
C7-C8
Also known as the “Figure-8” or “Shotgun” connector, very widely used on an array of devices such as TVs, Bluray players, and laptop chargers. This is polarised. There is an un-polarised version of the C7 that has a flat edge on one side of the figure-8 shape. View the range of LINDY C7/C8 IEC mains cables by clicking here

C13 / C14
C13-C14
Very widely used for computers, monitors and older laptop power supplies. View the range of LINDY C13/C14 IEC mains cables by clicking here

C15 / C16
C15-C16
Similar to the C13 but with a much higher temperature rating, this is usually used for a kitchen appliances, and is known as a “Kettle” lead. This is a “hot condition” cable which means it is rated to withstand higher temperatures. View the range of LINDY C15/C16 IEC mains cables by clicking here

C19 / C20
C19-C20
A high amp rated connector usually used in high-power situations such as on workstations or servers. View the range of LINDY C19/C20 IEC mains cables by clicking here

LINDY Launches Cost Effective Extender for HDMI Over Gigabit Network

Halves the cost of equipment required to broadcast HDMI signals over IP

Here is our most cost effective product yet for distributing video content throughout large buildings such as schools, hotels, hospitals, shops, shopping centres and business premises. The LINDY HDMI Over IP Extender allows for full HD images to be sent over a gigabit ethernet network or up to 100m using a single CAT6 Cable.

Consisting of transmitter and receiver units, the extender can support one to one, one to many and many to many configurations. In addition, it is possible to use up to three layers of active network devices to distribute video making it highly flexible for digital signage, presentation and demonstration applications, while providing the ability to expand easily as the installation evolves.

“Our latest product cuts in half the cost of equipment required to broadcast HDMI signals over IP,” says Owen Haigh, Senior Product Manager of LINDY Electronics. “Sold as individual units, organisations need only purchase the transmitters and receivers required for their specific configuration.”

Using a form of video compression that is barely perceptible, the LINDY HDMI Over IP Extender converts the HDMI signal to enable it to be broadcast over IP. LINDY suggests because of high use of bandwidth requirements of Full HD video that the system runs on its own dedicated network or used in a separate port based VLAN.

The LINDY HDMI Over IP Extender Transmitter (part no. 38127) and the LINDY HDMI Over IP Extender Receiver (part no. 38128) can be purchased from www.lindy.com.au

LINDY CROMO USB Cable Maximises Power Output

Our new super flexible USB 2.0 cable with ultra low profile connectors offers an improved charging rate over other thin cables.

Whilst some cables sacrifice the quality of the conductors in order to achieve a slim design, the CROMO Slim USB 2.0 cable uses only the highest grade components to ensure the maximum output of the power supply is consistently achieved.

The Type A to Micro-B cable contains high quality copper wire specifically chosen for the individual tasks of conducting power and transferring data, wrapped in a slim, flexible TPE jacket. The superior zinc alloy, ultra low profile connectors with gold plated contacts complete the cable’s stylish, lightweight design that guarantees flawless performance.

“Most thin cables don’t make a distinction between the individual wires for conducting power and data, but this causes a reduction in the power available to charge the device,” says Tony Jamieson, General Manager of LINDY Australia. “By specifying the wires and using other high quality components, the CROMO cable offers ultimate reliability.”

Guaranteed for 10 years the CROMO Slim USB 2.0 Cable (Part no 41690) starts at 1m lengths and retails at $19.95. It is available direct from the LINDY website.

USB 3.0 Active Extension Cable

Active Extension Cable lets you use USB 3.0 devices over longer distances

With a LINDY USB 3.0 Active Extension Cable you can use high speed USB devices up to 11m away. The cable’s plug and play capability ensures that it is simple and fast to use, providing flexibility for multiple uses and reliability for permanent setups.

USB 3.0 cables are only certified to lengths up to 5m, after this the signal becomes too weak and unreliable causing drop outs which can make devices or software running over it to crash. LINDY’s active USB cables feature built-in electronics, which regenerate the USB 3.0 signal to support longer distances.

The LINDY USB 3.0 Active Extension Cable comes in two lengths 5m and 10m. Two 5m cables can be daisy chained together, whilst the 10m cable also includes a handy connection for attaching a power supply to voltage hungry peripherals. By using a USB 3.0 cable, up to 1.2m in length, to connect the device a total length of over 11m can be achieved.

This latest cable is an upgrade to our existing USB 2.0 Active extension cable that is one of our best sellers. Ideal for professional or home use, our active cables are used to solve a multitude of problems from tethering a camera over long distances in a photographer’s studio to enabling storage devices to be hidden.

Backwards compatible with both USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 devices, the LINDY USB 3.0 Active Extension has a Type A USB Male to Type A USB Female connection and supports transfer rates up to 5Gbps.

Reuse Old Laptop Drives with the LINDY USB 3.0 to SATA Adapter

According to the Step Initiative, in 2012 Australia generated 25.23kg of e-waste per inhabitant. Whilst electronics have a limited lifespan, there are often components that still have value to the user, even though the rest of the device may be destined for the recycle bin. The new LINDY USB 3.0 to SATA 3.0 Adapter, for example, allows for a laptop’s hard drive to be used long after the rest of the machine has become defunct.

The tool-less design allows the user to simply attach the SATA 3.0 adapter to the old hard drive and connect the other end to a computer’s USB port to continue using the hard drive without the need for dedicated drive housing. The adapter’s plug and play installation makes it ideal for accessing old files, saving back-ups or even just as an additional drive with speeds of up to 5Gbps.

“A USB to SATA Adapter is one of those peripherals that people don’t realise are so handy to have,” says Tony Jamieson, General Manger of LINDY Australia. “Whether you’re just trying to retrieve data from a sick machine, reuse hard drives out of old machines or clone a drive when upgrading, a USB to SATA Adapter is ideal.”

Compatible with USB 3.0 equipped PCs and Macs, the adapter is suitable for 2.5″ and 3.5″ SATA III HDDs/SSDs and 5.25″ ODD drives. The adapter also includes a multi-country power supply for power hungry 3.5 disks. The LINDY SATA/Micro SATA Adapter should be used for drives that require 3.3V.

More details here…

LINDY Retractable USB to Lightning Cable Untangles Apple Users

Compact design makes carrying a cable to charge, sync or transfer data easy

A handy, in-your-pocket gizmo for Apple lovers everywhere, the new LINDY Retractable USB to Lightning Cable enables users to easily connect their iPhone, iPad or iPod to a PC or Mac anywhere they go.

Ideal for syncing an iTunes account, transferring data or just delivering a quick charge, the cable’s compact design puts an end to crushed wires at the bottom of a handbag or trying to extract the right one from a crow’s nest of leads from the front pocket of a messenger bag.

“Carrying cables around is a bane in most people’s lives. During transportation they become tangled, bent and generally stressed and not surprisingly don’t last very long before something snaps,” says Tony Jamieson, General Manager of LINDY Australia. “Retractable cables don’t just eliminate the snarling mess in your work bag, they’re also really easy to slip into your pocket when you’re travelling light.”

In addition, the retractable cable’s excellent strain relief capabilities ensures that despite the ratchet mechanism that allows users to set the cable length required and release it back into the housing they can always be certain of a stress free connection.

Officially licensed by Apple as part of their MFi programme the retractable cable extends up to 1m in length and is guaranteed for 2 years.

10 Great ways to make your mobile device work harder

We stock a wide range of USB OTG cables

We stock a wide range of USB OTG cables

With smartphones and tablets increasingly replacing the home computer, we look at some of the ways an OTG (On The Go) cable can help improve your experience.

With prices starting from just $6.95 from www.lindy.com.au, this low cost cable allows for USB “On the Go” enabled devices to connect to all types of USB peripherals from printers and digital cameras to charging your device from an eBike.

1. Print photos directly from your camera or phone

Whilst printing wirelessly is often an option, an OTG cable is essential when a physical connection is required.

2. Connect a keyboard or mouse

There’s no need to buy tablet dedicated keyboards, simply plug a normal keyboard, mouse or KM wireless receiver into the OTG cable and work as normal.

3. Connect a USB stick or external drive

Not every device has expansion slots such as SD, plug in an OTG cable and easily read flash drives and connect other types of external storage. If the phone or tablet doesn’t recognise the mass storage device then apps such as USB OTG Helper or StickMount can assist in mounting the device.

4. Control a camera with a mobile device

Apps such as DSLR Controller, which enables full control of a Canon EOS SLR via an Android device, give flexibility in setting up shots. Using an OTG cable to connect the camera and the mobile device not only enables this, but makes it easy to access Dropbox or Instagram once they’re taken.

5. Enhance the listening experience with a DAC

Portable devices don’t typically come with great audio chipsets. To get some serious sound use the OTG cable to connect a USB DAC such as the FiiO E18.

6. Use it to charge a device from another USB port

Never be stuck in the red again. Suck power from a charged device to the one that isn’t or be green and charge the mobile from an eBike’s USB port

7. Connect a USB card reader

Transfer photos and video from a camera to a mobile phone or laptop to free up drive space when on holiday. Alternatively with the OTG cable it may be possible to transfer directly depending on the device’s capabilities, such as moving video from a GoPro camera to a notebook.

8. Browse photos on a tablet from a camera

Connect a camera to a tablet via an OTG cable and watch videos or view pictures on the larger screen. A simple alternative when the camera doesn’t have wi-fi capability.

9. Connect a USB hub

Because there is no such thing as too many USB slots. Although if there are power hungry devices on the hub it might be wise to use a powered one.

10. Use as a games controller

Ditch on screen controls and reclaim display real-estate by connecting a games controller via an OTG cable for an enhanced mobile gaming experience.

 

LINDY USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter For The Connection That Just Keeps On Going

It’s been around since the late 80s, but VGA still shows no sign of disappearing

VGA connections might not be as common today as a few years ago, but there are enough old style monitors still hard at work in offices up and down the country to make the new USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter from LINDY Electronics an essential part of any road warrior’s connection kit.

Unlike previous adapters that carried out the processing inside the device, acting as an external graphics card, the LINDY USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter uses the computer’s processer to create the conversion. This not only makes it much more compact than before, but less expensive too.

Bus powered, all it needs to work is for the driver to be installed on the notebook and the adapter connected, making it a simple solution to unpredictable monitor connection situations and an easier alternative to installing a graphic card when a more permanent connection to a VGA screen is required.

“Despite the predicted demise of VGA as it is gradually replaced by HDMI and DisplayPort connections, there is still a vast number of screens in use that have VGA connection,” says Tony Jamieson, General Manager of LINDY Australia. “Whilst notebooks and ultrabooks have dropped the VGA connection, other newer products such as Intel’s half NUC has a VGA port. Whether it will eventually be manufactured with one is probably debatable, but the fact that it’s included at the moment shows the significant number of people that still use VGA.”

The LINDY USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter enables screens to be used as primary, mirrored or extended desktop, enabling a more flexible and productive work environment. Compatible with Windows 7 and 8, the adapter requires an Intel i series 3rd Generation (or higher) processor and supports resolutions up to 1080p.