USB, USB Type-C®, and DisplayPort™ (DP) cables have become so ubiquitous as to even be purchased in low-cost convenience stores. However, while two individual cables may appear identical to the naked eye, they can differ considerably in the quality of performance they provide. Low cost can mean low quality, and alongside instances where cheap cables have caused electronic equipment to malfunction or have corrupted data, they typically cause poor picture quality or slow down the rate of data transfer to well below the multi-gigabit bandwidth offered by the latest USB specification (USB 4).
Two sets of dynamics are on a collision course making an often overlooked technical detail—signal integrity on PCBs, cables, connectors, and IC chip sets—more important than ever. When clocks and switching speeds were in the hundreds of megahertz, digital signals implemented in standards like 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0, SCSI, PCI and others behaved as expected and systems functioned per spec.