USB4-Over-Fiber IC Solution, a New Era of Lighter, Longer, and Affordable Data Transfer Medium for Consumer Markets
Compatible with Thunderbolt™, DisplayPort™, USB4/3 with data-transmission, audio-video display, and charging capabilities
Artilux, the renowned leader of GeSi (Germanium Silicon) photonic technology as well as CMOS-based SWIR sensing, imaging and optical communication technology, announced today the launch of the mass-production-ready USB4 active-optical-cable IC solution. Along with Artilux’s existing IC solutions for all-optical and hybrid optical/electrical HDMI™ and DisplayPort™ applications, today’s announcement on the USB4 active-optical-cable IC solution further positions Artilux’s Connect Series product line as the most comprehensive offering in high-speed optical communications solutions for mainstream consumer markets. As the USB-C market becomes increasingly mainstream, USB4 is highly anticipated to be the future standard for transferring data, audio and video, charging and connecting between various electronic devices due to its high-speed and stable transmission characteristics. Artilux’s USB4 active-optical-cable IC solution is highly compatible with Thunderbolt™ and DisplayPort™ video/audio standards, and is backward-compatible with USB 3.2 and earlier versions. It can deliver up to 40Gbps bidirectional data transfer, and drive an 8K resolution display at 60Hz including HDR without compression. In addition, compared to passive copper cables, the diameter of optical cables is smaller, and the cable length can be significantly longer to support more real-world applications.
One of the major events in the 3C industry last week was the 2023 Apple Fall Event, where one of the most anticipated revelations was whether Apple would join the USB-C camp. It has now been confirmed that the newly released iPhone 15 series will feature a universal USB-C port, capable of charging, data and audio and video transmission. Among all, iPhone 15 Pro series support the USB 3 standard with a data rate of 10 Gbps, making transfers 20 times faster than the previous rate of 480Mbps. Relatedly, Intel recently also announced the upcoming release of Thunderbolt™ 5, a new generation of high-speed transmission protocol, in 2024. It continues to use the USB-C interface as Thunderbolt™ 4/3, with data rate equivalent to USB4 version 2.0, supporting up to 80Gbps bidirectional transmission. This development is set to further ignite USB4 development and applications.
According to the report by Allied Market Research, the global USB cable market was valued at $12.73 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $69.86 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 20.24% from 2022 to 2031. The report also highlighted that USB-C has grown by leaps compared to USB-A and USB-B. In summary, from the perspective of market development and user growth, it is undeniable that USB-C cables will be the future mainstream for charging, data transmission, and connection cables for professional audio-visual and consumer electronic products, especially with the rising popularity of high-resolution 4K and 8K displays, increasing data capacity, and more demand for high-speed transmission. Therefore, compared with USB 3.2 supporting 5Gbps to 20Gbps bidirectional transmission, USB4 which supports doubling the speed at 40Gbps bidirectional transmission, will shine as the rising star in the USB-C market.
Currently, in the USB industry, most chip-design companies focus on developing IC products for host, hub, and device controllers that operate in the electrical domain. Unlike these companies, Artilux has developed the innovative USB4 driver IC product for enabling USB4 data to be transmitted over the optical domain via optical cables. Artilux helps customers to gain a leading edge in the USB4 marketplace by providing a mass-production-ready USB4 active-optical-cable IC solution. Many people may wonder why there is a need for USB4 optical cables. Conventionally, most USB cables use copper as the transmission medium. As the required rate for data transfer continues to rise, the skin effect can cause higher impedance and high-speed losses in a copper transmission line, resulting in reduced performance and limited transmission distances. Imagine if a user wants to connect to a large-size screen for sharing presentations, films, video games, augmented reality experiences, or even for applications in smart vehicles - how can a mere 0.8 meters of passive USB4 copper cable meet these demands? Even when using active USB4 copper wires, the maximum length can only be up to 2 meters, and the price will be much higher than passive USB4 copper cables. In contrast, USB4 optical cables can break through the length limitation of copper cables, significantly reducing the diameter, and creating thinner and lighter high-speed cable products. And the price for USB4 optical cables is competitive with USB4 active copper cables, all which makes USB4 optical cables as an optimal selection with performance for consumers more widely applicable and well positioned in the consumer electronics market.
Dr. Jeff Liang, VP of Engineering at Artilux, said: "The USB4 optical cable IC solution launched by Artilux is here to help our customers to immediately ramp up the mass production of USB4 optical-cable products. Our solution features a novel and patent-pending design, and has been verified for high compatibility with Thunderbolt™, DisplayPort™, and full backward compatibility with USB 3.2 specification after rigorous testing with various existing USB host controllers, hubs, and devices. Artilux is the 1st company among industry to deliver a total optical IC solution for consumer markets in high-speed transmission, and this product is also the industry's first optical communication chip with USB4's complete functionality, including data transmission, audio and video transmission, and charging capabilities." Artilux’s demonstrated USB4 cable supports power output of up to 240W, increases the bandwidth from USB3.2 Gen1 5Gbps to USB4 40Gbps data transfer rate, and delivers high-quality audio and video transmission, including 8K (7680 x 4320) high resolution at 60Hz, HDR10 high dynamic range, and many more features. It is an optimal optical communication product with both high performance and compatibility.
Artilux Connect Series is the only portfolio of IC solutions among industry that can provide both high-speed and low-speed fiber transmission with CMOS-based technology, while meeting the needs of hybrid optical and all-optical transmission. It is equipped with all output specifications of HDMI, DP and USB, presenting low power consumption, low cost, and high integration performance. Artilux takes good use of rich experiences in optoelectronic engineering technology, IC design strength, CMOS-based mass production and global patent strategy to demonstrate the innovation of high-speed optical communication, expecting to work with partners in revitalizing applications in home entertainment, smart car, smart medical, data centers, metaverse and other fields. Artilux is empowering the development of fiber transmission and continues to turn over the milestones of optical communications.