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Michael Hopkins, founder of CurrentRF
Michael Hopkins, founder of CurrentRF
Michael Hopkins is the founder of CurrentRF, A California based company founded in 2002. Through activities with CurrentRF, Michael developed the RFDAC methodology and Current Reuse Mixer (the CRF2101) in 2002, and more recently, the PowerOptimizer (PowerOp) methodologies and technologies the … More »

USB used as an Analog-RF Port

January 26th, 2016 by Michael Hopkins, founder of CurrentRF

Most associate USB and it’s hardware as a digital and system data transfer protocol only.  Thinking of USB in terms of Analog and RF has only recently been a subject of interest in USB design, a necessity with the advent of USB 3 speeds and protocols.   In fact, RF effects become dominant in the data transfer speeds involved with in USB 3.    CurrentRF has developed a methodologies and technologies that allow server and network device USB ports, normally thought as digital and system data transfer ports, to be used as Analog/RF pickup ports for system noise and power reduction.

If one opens and ignores the data lines used for any flavor of USB, and focuses only on the resident +5V power and ground lines, one will see a rich source of RF frequencies of significant magnitude, that would enable energy harvesting techniques to be employed to recover this resident, generated energy.  In fact, if one utilizes an ac coupled spectrum analyzer of sufficient bandwidth, one will not only see frequency spikes and noise related to USB data transfers, but “coupled in” frequencies and noise energies related to other aspects of servers and network devices.

LDOs (low drop out regulators) and switch mode regulators, commonly used in data center devices today, do little to contain processing and clock noise energies.  This noise, or dynamic power dissipation, is sufficiently high frequency in nature to couple through the system almost unimpeded.

As the Earth only receives a portion of the Sun’s radiated energy, so only a portion of this server and network device generated noise couples to the USB port +5V line.   Thus, with this coupled in noise, a portion of this radiated noise energy can be picked up and processed back into the system as usable, “green” power.  This energy, captured and recycled, acts to reduce the load current on system voltage regulators, lessening the power drawn from either the wall plug or batteries.

The USB port, then, becomes the “eyes into the system” and a RF pickup of radiated energy from processors, memory, graphics cards, HDDs and SSDs, internet activity, etc.  This energy is normally ignored and treated by the industry as “throw away” and waste.  If captured and recycled, even at a partial level, it proves to be a substantial source of generated energy, and if  used, can result in substantial power saving and TCO reduction in Datacenter systems.

CurrentRF has developed methodologies and technologies that can recover and recycle this radiated, high frequency noise, visible at the server and network USB ports.  Substantial power is saved and the TCO of networks and servers reduced in using these techniques.  Thus, the USB port, can be used as an Analog/RF pickup and the “eyes into the system”, saving power and money in Datacenter networks and servers.

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