Dirty USB
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Dirty USB

Sep 13, 2023

[RichardG] has noticed a weird discrepancy – his Ryzen mainboard ought to have had fourteen USB3 ports, but somehow, only exposed thirteen of them. Unlike other mainboards in this lineup, it also happens to have a USB-C port among these thirteen ports. These two things wouldn't be related in any way, would they? Turns out, they are, and [RichardG] shows us a dirty USB-C trick that manufacturers pull on us for an unknown reason.

On a USB-C port using USB3, the USB3 TX and RX signals have to be routed to two different pin groups, depending on the plugged-in cable orientation. In a proper design, you would have a multiplexer chip detecting cable orientation, and routing the pins to one or the other. Turns out, quite a few manufacturers are choosing to wire up two separate ports to the USB-C connector instead.

In the extensive writeup on this problem, [Richard] explains how the USB-C port ought to be wired, how it's wired instead, shows telltale signs of such a trick, and how to check if a USB-C port on your PC is miswired in the same way. He also ponders on whether this is compliant with the USB-C specification, but can't quite find an answer. There's a surprising amount of products and adapters doing this exact thing, too, all of them desktop PC accessories – perhaps, you bought a device with such a USB-C port and don't know it.

As a conclusion, he debates making an adapter to break the stolen USB3 port out. This wouldn't be the first time we’re cheated when it comes to USB ports – the USB2 devices with blue connectors come to mind.