With the advent of the USB Type-C connector, more consumer electronics manufacturers are opting to include it over traditional USB and mini-USB connections. USB Type-C is particularly attractive because of its slim profile and flippable design. Due to the connector's sleek size and shape, laptop manufacturers can make thinner systems. However, as laptops become thinner, I/O port trade-offs must be made, and one of the most useful amenities being omitted is the Gigabit Ethernet port. Cypress Semiconductors seeks to address this with the EZ-USB GX3 controller.
Cypress demonstrated the EZ-USB GX3 today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. While Gigabit Ethernet is capable of speeds up to 950 Mbps, traditional Gigabit Ethernet to USB 3.0 adapters provide a significantly reduced throughput. However, Cypress's EZ-USB GX3 controller was shown to be capable of 910 Mbps, thanks to a proprietary "burst transfer mechanism." This is a negligible difference in comparison to Gigabit Ethernet's maximum speeds. The following graphic shows how their burst transfer mechanism works:
Although the controller is primarily associated with the USB Type C connection, the GX3 will support any USB 3.0 connection, which means a Type A or Type B connection with the controller will receive near Gigabit Ethernet speeds.
Additionally, the GX3 controller can handle both USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet power standards. This includes USB Link Power Management and 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet compliance. It also includes features such as "Wake-on-LAN," power saving modes, depending on network traffic and an AutoDetach, which soft-disconnects from the network when Ethernet connection is lost. Since Cypress wants the GX3 to potentially cater to every system in the market, it comes with drivers for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android and Chrome.
The laptop market has been aiming for thinner and lighter profiles for a while now. Apple's Macbook line has been lacking a lighter profile for the last few years, and Ultrabooks and Chromebooks are following suit. Slimmer laptops are excellent for individuals on the go; for such applications, Wi-Fi should be sufficient. However, there are times when power users need the vastly superior throughput Gigabit Ethernet provides. Cypress doesn't want today's trends to deter functionality, and with the EZ-USB GX3 Controller, both manufacturers and consumers need not worry about the exclusion of Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The EZ-USB GX3 controller is currently in the sampling stage of pre-production.