First USB4 multiprotocol retimer chip for USB-C

First USB4 multiprotocol retimer chip for USB-C

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Swiss chip developer Kandou has launched the first commercial retimer chip for the emerging USB4 protocol.

Production silicon samples are available for KB8001, the first in the Matterhorn family of versatile retimers for USB4 host and device applications. It supports a long cable reach with no compromise on signal integrity to give system designers more flexibility in system development and USB4 implementation. With a USB-C connection, this provides better display graphics, faster data transfer between USB4-connected devices and improved battery life of mobile products.

Kandou’s Matterhorn design follows the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) specification for USB4 for desktop and mobile PCs, tablets and peripheral devices.

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“Our experience building the world’s leading low-power SerDes designs gives us a unique perspective to deliver performance-leading USB4 retimer solutions,” remarks Dr. Amin Shokrollahi, Founder and CEO of Kandou. “We leveraged our experience and capabilities to provide a compelling USB4 retimer already being adopted and implemented with many of the major PC OEMs and ODMs.”

The KB8001 uses low-power SerDes technology to extend the length of PCB traces while maintaining low latency. It can be located up to approximately 40cm (16in) from the main host SoC using low-cost PCB materials while maintaining signal integrity. The result is reduced overall system and development costs.

Autonomous Rx Equalization (ARxE) dynamically corrects for extreme channel characteristics providing a hardware- and software-independent solution that goes beyond the current USB-IF standards. On-chip diagnostics including Eye Scope functionality support easy debug during development and end-of-line testing for assured product quality.

KB8001 is available in a 81-pin 4x4mm footprint suitable for smaller form factor designs including ultra-slim notebooks.

Matterhorn’s flexible architecture enables support for various source and sink orientation options. It also supports multiple protocols: USB4 Gen2 and Gen3 signaling at 20 and 40Gbps; USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 Super Speed signalling at 5, 10 and 20 Gbps; DisplayPort 1.4a at 8.1, 5.4, 2.7 and 1.62 Gbps x1, x2, x4; Thunderbolt 2 and 3 at 20.625 and 10.3125 Gbps.

No external serial memory is needed for the retimer parameters and integrated DC blocking capacitors and pull-up and pull-down resistors on the low-speed wires reduce the overall bill of materials.

KB8001 has been thoroughly tested to verify compliance with relevant standards and interoperability with leading hosts and devices utilizing USB4, Thunderbolt, USB3.2 and DisplayPort functionality.

Production samples of KB8001 are available now with volume production beginning in Q3 2021.

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