Beagle-V welcomes you to 2012.

I wanted to like the new Beagle-V. It was the developer edition of Beagle-V (that was canceled) that was my introduction to “big” RV64G systems and I loved working on that board. It was canceled abruptly during development and Beagle wandered around in the weeds for a few years, but they finally announced a new RISC-V Beagle-V that they intend to actually ship.

Since it’s basically another TH-1520 reference design, there’s not a huge amount to say about it, so I’d planned to say nothing. (I just can’t get excited about the Th-1520 and other C906/C910 derivatives.)

Then I looked closely at their picture.

USB 3.1 Gen 1 Cable sighting ... in 2023

They’re actually using a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Micro-B SuperSpeed Cable (… “Pro Plus Dominator 2000 ‘on a steeeck'” edition)  in 2023 almost ten years after USB-C became mainstream.

I can think of only three explanations.

1) Someone in purchasing found a “deal” on thousands of these much hated  and largely forgotten about cables.
2) Someone has an surplus inventory of cables from that hated connector to USB-C so it can actually connect to your machine and is hoping to liquidate them.
3) Common drug use in the workplace.

This connector was hated and almost immediately retired because it was the worst of all worlds. It had the flimsiness of Micro-B (the break-away design was actually a feature, not a bug – it was meant to sacrifice the cable instead of your $1000 phone if pulled on at an angle). It could be used with either a normal Micro B (with all the problems that connector had, including random power capabilities) or Micro B super speed, which was a very expensive and bulky connector, ensuring you couldn’t plug anything next to it. You never REALLY knew if all the pairs in the cable worked, so you’d get a speed that was either Super or not. Seagate used them on a generation or two of MyBook class drives and some laptop monitors used them because they needed the USB 3.1 bandwidth and USB-C hadn’t arrived yet in volume. There’s no mechanical latching, so you never know if it’s fully seated. As they were only popular for a few months, the odds of having spares are rare. The SuperSpeed branding was so weak you never really knew if that was a 5 or 10Gbps connection, though they’d sometimes degrade to 6 or 8 Gbps if a pair was sensed to fail.

I wouldn’t be surprised if these cables and accessories are out of manufacture. It’s not like you’re going to get a new pod for your protocol analyzer or extension cord or other nicities.

That connector is the USB equivalent of the CCS connector for charging EVs: they had another connector that they wanted to be compatible with, but they needed extra pins/wires, so they added a sidecar connector onto the connector.

CCS connector
CCS Connector. Human hand for scale.

Some will say it’s a bit silly to get worked up about the cable when you will power it from the barrel jack (which might be 5521 or 5525, each slightly incompatible, and in a variety of voltages or current instead of the perfectly lovely USB-C Power Delivery, which would get your computer AND power connection in a single cable.) or will never rely on a computer connection at all because WiFi and copper ethernet are provided, but details matter.

If this were an Amazon review, incompatibility with common, standard, relevant connectors is an immediate two stars off in my Amazon reviews.

Still, Beagleboard is a reputable company known for community-building. Lots of people prefer working with them over the companies that just lay down schematics on fiberglass and throw it over a wall as is done by many competitors that compete primarily on price. Certainly, the few months I spent working on the original Beagle-V were very pleasant for exactly that reason.  I wish them luck with this board.

…but don’t do it again, team, mmmkay?