Embedded World: FTDI introduces X-Chip, its low power USB Interface ICs

USB solutions specialist Future Technology Devices International Limited (FTDI) has supplemented its portfolio of USB to serial interface products with the release of its new X-Chip series. Made up of devices in 13 different package options, X-Chip complements the company’s existing FT-R and FT-H offerings. The series supports a broad selection of interface types, such as basic UART, full UART, FIFO and I2C, as well as FTDI’s proprietary FT1248 I/O (including provision for enhanced SPI).

Through X-Chip, engineers are provided with a feature-rich USB 2.0 interface solution that will enhance system performance while simultaneously addressing major board level concerns, such as better space utilisation and reduced power consumption. Devices in the series are capable of data rates of up to 3.4 Mbits/s, while maintaining low power consumption, <8mA (typical) when fully active and <125 µA (typical) while in suspend mode.

With recent amendments being made to the USB specification regarding more rapid charging of portable electronics devices, the X-Chip has built-in functionality to detect a charging port and cause logic to switch from data transfer to charging mode. This feature means that detection does not have to be carried out by the system’s micocontroller/microprocessor, thereby allowing it to focus fully on its core activities. The end result is a simpler detection process and the capability to charge at a higher current level which shortens the time required for battery charging.

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE, Mac OS-X, Linux 3.2 (and above), plus Android operating systems are all supported, furnishing engineers with maximum design flexibility. Furthermore, the required USB drivers are free to download from the FTDI website. Since the entire USB protocol is handled by the device, the need for the programming of USB specific firmware can be negated. An internal 2048 byte, multi-time programmable (MTP) memory enables storage and configuration of the necessary device descriptors.

“By specifying the X-Chip into their designs, engineers will reduce their overall bill of materials and optimise PCB real estate,” states Fred Dart, CEO and founder of FTDI. “With its comprehensive feature set, the benefits of lower power, smaller device footprint and enhanced battery charging can all be realised, as well as the robust USB functionality that FTDI has always provided in its connectivity solutions.”

The devices in the X-Chip series are offered in compact SSOP, QFN and DFN packages. Each has an operational temperature range of -40 °C to +85 °C.  As all the necessary USB  support and bridging intelligence has been integrated into these devices and pre-validated, the expense, time and engineering resource needed to bring Full Speed USB connectivity into system designs is markedly reduced. In addition to the ICs, FTDI has released a wide-selection of development modules, enabling the different functions for each chip type, and thus allowing for easy device evaluation and prototyping development.

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