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Hub spins multiple USB 3.2 Gen2 and DP ports out of USB4

Sep 21, 2021 — by Eric Brown 480 views

VIA announced a “VIA Labs VL830 USB4 Endpoint Device” based on a VL830 USB4 controller that converts a 40Gbps USB4 port into 5x USB 3.2 Gen2 ports plus DP 1.4a output for 8Kp60 and beyond.

Computers with USB4 are beginning to appear, including some embedded models such as IEI’s Tiger Lake-U based tKINO-UL6 thin Mini-ITX board. While we wait for peripheral manufacturers to catch up, USB4 hubs that distribute the bandwidth will be the primary way you interact with the up to 40Gpbs USB4.

The meet this need, the VIA Labs unit within VIA Technologies has unveiled a USB4 adapter board and hub called the VIA Labs VL830 USB4 Endpoint Device that spreads the bandwidth across multiple USB 3.2 Gen2 and DP ports.



VIA Labs VL830 USB4 Endpoint Device (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The VL830 USB4 Endpoint Device is built around one of the world’s first USB4 endpoint controllers. The board is a reference design for the 10 x 10mm VL830 chip aimed primarily at OEMs making USB4 hubs.

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USB4 (or USB 4 or USB 4.0) enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols to share a single high-speed link with support for a maximum aggregate bandwidth of either 20Gbps or 40Gbps, depending on the type. The VIA VL830 Endpoint Device can connect to ports using either USB4 or Thunderbolt 4 technology, which is essentially the same and contributes its multiplexing capabilities. The board’s Type-C input port is also backward compatible with USB Type-C 3.x with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, enabling the single port to output USB and DP signals simultaneously.


VL830

The VL830 Endpoint Device offers a USB 3.2 Gen 2 hub for downstream facing ports (DFPs), including 4x SuperSpeed ports and 1x HighSpeed port. There is also a DisplayPort 1.4a output with a maximum bandwidth of 32.4Gbps (HBR3).

A more likely scenario over the next few years would be to offer 8Kp60 HDR video over DP with “several” simultaneous, up to 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2 connections, depending on the host system’s performance. In addition: “When paired with a DisplayPort Multi-Stream Transport hub, multiple 4K or high-refresh-rate displays can be supported while still enjoying fast SuperSpeed USB data transfers,” says VIA.

The VIA VL830 Endpoint Device can be used to charge external batteries, such as smartphone batteries. There appears to be a second Type-C port across from the USB4 input port that would likely be used for power delivery. However, the specs say that any combination of DFPs can be configured to support USB battery charging.” The board also offers sideband signal support and a 256-bit ECDSA security chip.



Mystery board, which may be larger development board version of VIA VL830 Endpoint Device
(click image to enlarge)

The product page lists a photo of a second, larger board (above) which does not appear in the announcement. There is no explanation, but we are guessing that this is a larger development board version of the smaller board, which can be used for direct deployment. We are contacting VIA for an explanation.

 
Further information

The VIA Labs VL830 controller and VIA Labs VL830 USB4 Endpoint Device will be begin shipping to select partners in Q4, 2021, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found in VIA Technologies’ announcement and product page.
 

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