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RISC-V based HydraUSB3 board is open source and supports high-speed protocols

Jul 30, 2022 — by Giorgio Mendoza 6,023 views

The HydraUSB3 V1 is a development kit that accommodates the WCH CH569 microcontroller. This device was designed to create projects that involve streaming or high speed protocols (i.e. SerDes and HSPI) via USB3.0.

As previously mentioned, the MCU compatible with this development kit is the WCH CH569 which is based on the 32-bit RISC-V3A core. According to the datasheet, this chip “integrates super-speed USB3.0 host and device controller (built-in PHY), GbE controller, dedicated high-speed SerDes controller (built-in PHY, can drive optical fiber directly), high-speed parallel interface (HSPI), digital video port (DVP), SD/EMMC interface controller and encryption/decryption module.”

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WCH CH569 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

To be more specific, the hardware found on the HydraUSB3 enables it to support USB3 (up to 5Gbps), USB2.0 (up to 480Mbps), HSPI (up to 3.8Gbps), SerDes (up to 1.20Gbps), Gigabit ethernet controller, eMMC/SD Card (up to 96Mhz), SPI (exceeds 50MHz), UART (up to 6Mbauds and 12Mbauds non-officially). 


HydraUSB3 front (left) and back (right)
(click images to enlarge)

Moreover, this device supports cryptographic algorithms such as AES/SM4 and at least 8 types of encryption/decryption modes involving the SRAM, eMMC or HSPI data. 


Stacked boards and pinout
(click images to enlarge)

The open-source test firmware can be found at this GitHub and the Getting Started page might be found here. The readme of the firmware repo lists three examples using the HydraUSB3. However, it’s required to have two of these boards in order to recreate the HSPI and the SerDes examples. 

Specifications listed for the HydraUSB3 V1 include:

  • Processor System:
    • WCH CH569W MCU, 32-bit RISC-V3A (based on RV32IMAC) up to 120MHz
  • Storage:
    • 448KB embedded flash
  • High-Speed Protocols:
    • USB3 SS built-in PHY (5Gbps) and USB2 built-in PHY FS/LS/HS (480Mbps)
    • High Speed Parallel Interface (HSPI) up to 3.8Gbps with unique fast bidirectional parallel bus 8, 16 & 32bits up to 120MHz
    • SerDes (up to 1.20Gbps, up to 1.38Gbps non officially)
    • Gigabit Ethernet controller (with option/extension)
  • USB:
    • 1x USB Type A w/ USB3 & USB2 SS signals and ESD protection
  • I/O Peripherals:
    • Breakout of all 49 I/Os
  • Other Features:
    • 64-bits SysTick
    • 1x Reset
    • 1x Shunt connector
    • 1x Enable 3V3 EXT
  • Debug:
    • RISC-V debugger WCH-Link (not included in kit)
  • Software:
    • Eclipse RISC-V IDE
  • Operating Temperature:
    • -20 to 85℃
  • Power:
    • 3.3V Operational voltage 
  • Dimensions:
    • 60 x 60mm

 Further information

The product page of this product mentions that it will soon be available through Digi-Key and it seems to be listed for $59.99.

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One response to “RISC-V based HydraUSB3 board is open source and supports high-speed protocols”

  1. Mark Hahn says:

    I’m racking my little brain trying to figure out the what it’s for!

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