Conexant on Wednesday introduced its third CODEC for upcoming digital headsets using a USB Type-C interface. The new CX20888 chip is specifically tailored for headsets and supports a variety of advanced features, such as a headphone amplifier, active noise cancellation, sampling rates up to 96 kHz and so on. The company unveiled the product at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai in a bid to attract the attention of Chinese makers of consumer electronics.

The Conexant CX20888 is built around an ARM Cortex-M0 controller core (clocked at 50 MHz) and is equipped with two 32-bit Conexant DSPs (both clocked at 100 MHz) with floating point assist—bringing the total compute power of the DSPs to 400 MIPS—as well as 504 KB of SRAM that's shared between the M0 core and the DSPs. The CODEC also incorporates a variety of interfaces for peripherals, including two I2C master (or master + slave) interfaces, one I2S interface, one SPI, two multi-rate timers, a self wake-up timer, four monitor ADCs (to enable volume control, temperature sensor and battery monitor), two stereo PDM digital microphone interfaces, S/PDIF input and up to 28 GPIO pins.

Conexant utilizes the processing capabilities, as well as rich I/O features of the CX20888, to enable such functionality as low-latency active noise cancellation (eliminating up to 30 dB of external sound with a range of up to 3.8 kHz), acoustic echo canceling, equalization, microphone automatic gain control, volume control and others. The chip also supports a wake-on-voice trigger, which is important for enablement of services like Cortana that can listen to what is happening in its surroundings while the OS is in sleep mode.

To enable high-quality audio output, the CX20888 contains one 24-bit stereo ADC (97 dB dynamic range) and one 24-bit stereo DAC (104 dB dynamic range), supporting sampling rates between 8 kHz and 96 kHz. In addition, the chip incorporates a class-H headphone amplifier as well as programmable microphone preamplifiers with dedicated bias to prevent crosstalk. Because power circuitry is important for audio devices, the CX20888 has an integrated DC-DC converter with power switches and dynamic voltage scaling to ensure quality of output while keeping power consumption under control.

Like other USB-C Digital Audio solutions announced so far, the CX20888 supports USB 2.0 bandwidth, which should be plenty for audio and smart functionality. It also auto switches between CTIA and OMTP headsets if used inside a docking station.

Conexant tells us that the CX20888 is the industry’s only single-chip solution with such feature-set, which is suitable for digital USB-C headsets. The company naturally does not reveal the exact price of its solution, but claims that the chip reduces BOM costs of headsets because of its high level of integration. As for form factor, the CX20888 comes in 5×5×0.5 mm 81-pin BGA package and is small enough for a variety of designs.

Intel made a number of proposals for its part in the USB-C Digital Audio specification earlier this year and Conexant expects billions of people to adopt headsets and smartphones with a USB-C interface in the coming years (to support the transition of audio devices to USB-C, Conexant introduced two appropriate codecs earlier this year). The new interface is projected to improve the quality of headsets and expand their functionality by adding features, such as temperature sensors or noise cancellation technologies, but these depend entirely on decisions of actual hardware makers and not the standard itself. On paper USB-C Digital Audio enables a lot, but we will have to wait and see how it takes shape.

Source: Conexant

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  • pashhtk27 - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    "moving from a shitty DAC/amp inside a phone to a shitty DAC/amp in an even more compromised device"
    Nailed it.
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    What says the device HAS to be shitty, though? Buy better headphones, get better amp - even on a $200 phone.

    I'm not 100% behind this shift but you're looking at it through a huuuge chunk of bias.
  • ddriver - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    You should not see FACTS as personal attacks. You are clueless and that's a fact. If facts offend you, that only further goes to show where you stand. Be a man and take it as constructive criticism and make a note of it instead of whining about it.
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    When the word ignorance is used, I take that as a personal attack.

    sure you could put a worse D/A and then a worse amp after the connector... and the audio may be worse... but why would you guys assume that?

    anything will be possible, could be a great D/A after the usb-c port and then a great, perfectly paired amp for the speakers/headphones hard-wired.

    It's almost you guys are just afraid of change.
  • ddriver - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    So you first whine about taking the fact of your ignorance as a personal attack, and now it is US who are "just afraid of change". Yeah, it must be that...

    So besides ignorant, you are also a hypocrite, that is "accusing others of things which you actually do".

    We are not afraid of change, we are just not stupid enough to be cheering about a chance FOR THE WORSE. Because unlike you we know what we are talking about, and you are a clueless hype repeating device. You few "attempts" to point out actual advantages are far below adequate or even passable, and after that failed your best effort was a practically empty "usb-c audio represents a potential upgrade to the audio experience". Oh an that "everything will be possible" magic gem LOL.

    I've been working professionally with audio for almost 20 years now, I've enjoyed the technically best audio experience possible for most of that time, and I can tell you for a fact that the path to improved audio experience IS NOT replacing the audio jack with usb-c. While it could have some benefits, most notably adding non-audio quality related features, what it will mostly result in will be a slight bump in the profits of corporations. It will not give you pro grade audio, it will give you the same lousy consumer products, but slightly more expensive and with more things to break and ruin the stuff you paid for.
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, June 30, 2016 - link

    well actually with a digital output of audio there are no limits to how good the audio can be. I don't know why you are so passionately negative about it. As someone with a formal education in electrical engineering and mathematics, I don't agree with your negative tone about it.

    I don't know why this seems to becoming personal, life is too short.

    my vote is digital output vs analog output from any device. and then there will be options of all sorts of quality/costs for the D/A Amp and speakers... and there are net benefits to putting the D/A and amp at the last possible spot closest to the speakers. The less the analog signal has to travel, the better.
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    You're right, but this guy's a bigot.
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    "It's almost you guys are just afraid of change."

    Change is great when there's a benefit to the adoption of that change to the person using the device that makes any compromises or trade-offs worth accepting. At this point, I'm finding it difficult to identify any benefit that offsets the detriment of cost and complexity. However, I think the wider forces in the overall market will dictate whether or not products like this find success just as Microsoft discovered with Windows 8 and LCD manufacturers figured out with 3D TVs.
  • TheJian - Tuesday, July 5, 2016 - link

    A personal attack would have been calling you stupid, not ignorant. Stupid implies you are too dumb to learn. Ignorant implies you can learn, but CHOOSE not to. There is a big difference.

    "Full Definition of ignorance. : the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness."
    From merriam webster. Not a comment on who's right or wrong because I'm ignorant of many things audio. I just don't care to learn, and I can read a review or ask an audiophile etc to buy the right stuff. I CHOOSE to spend time on other things. Same thing can be said about me and cars. I hire a mechanic to get dirty for me...LOL. I only need to be informed enough to not get snowed on the repair cost (still ask dad for that info...ROFL - gearheads R US). My klipsch v2.400's speakers sound fine BTW ;) and blow away my z560's in music but the z560's rock for games (picked for those jobs). Headphones sound great too. I know enough to understand hz, thd, db etc but not enough time to care about inner workings of internals etc. I just need to know what works not why. I know enough about handbrake to make a very good rip, but not enough to bother with the advanced panel settings.

    The point? EVERYBODY is ignorant about MANY things. Period. There is just not enough time in our lives to be omniscient... :) What do you expect someone to say to describe another persons lack of knowledge? The correct word is ignorant.
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 1, 2016 - link

    "Be a man"

    Well done, you're a massive toolshed. Have a round of sexist applause.

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