FTDI’s new X-Series of USB device chips

FTDI just released a new series of their USB to serial device ICs. The X-series is an upgrade on the R part used in the Bus Pirate and formerly in Arduinos. It features better transfer rates, lower power consumption, needs fewer discrete components, and has high power USB charging capability.

FTDI is delighted to announce the launch of its new X-Chip series. Made up of 13 devices, with an exception feature set, the X-Chip series offers full speed USB 2.0 bridging solutions to UART, SPI/FT1248, I2C and FIFO interfaces complementing the company’s existing R chip, and Hi-Speed solutions. “By specifying the X-Chip into their designs, engineers will reduce their overall bill of materials and optimise PCB real estate,” states Fred Dart, CEO and founder of FTDI. “With its comprehensive feature set, the benefits of lower power, smaller device footprint and NEW enhanced battery charger detection can all be realised, as well as the robust USB functionality that FTDI has always provided in its connectivity solutions”. In addition to the ICs, FTDI has released a wide-selection of development modules, enabling instant access to the different functions for each chip type, and thus allowing for easy device evaluation and prototyping development.

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  1. I’d really wish someone would make a 8pin SOIC version of these chips. Having to drop down a 16pin SSOP always feels like a waste.

      1. those “no pins” packages are very close to “chip don’t exist”

        also I seriously don’t get where’s a problem to make a 8pin chip for uart
        Vss, Vdd, Vusb, D+, D-, RX, TX -> and you have one spare :D

        if you want cts/rts then you take a 10pin package and get again a spare pin (#pwr for e.g.) … and you put it in soic .. and everyone is happy :D

      2. Half the size and half the prices of the ft232rl seems pretty good to me.
        These also have a LOT of user EEPROM (800+ bytes), readable from USB.
        It looks like an good upgrade in a number of ways; not just a repackaging!

  2. I wonder how much the ardunio/hobbyist marked means to them – with the advent of arduino Leonardo, the atmelxxUxx chips, and the variants, FTDI chips are swiftly losing popularity. (Not that there are not plenty of advantages and disadvantages, especially with the USB pricing model, and small companies)

  3. I like their plug in replacement for old serial ports in the same form factor as a dsub 9. Great for me old instruments– too bad so many use 15 pin serial….

  4. I wonder how come they don’t have a DIP version of usb2uart chip. There was one available some years ago, can’t remember the brand … but really, it’s weird FTDI don’t have a single dip8 usb2uart … would probably be the very popular chip very fast

    1. Yeah, but it likely wouldn’t be any cheaper to manufacture than the 16pin SSOP, and would have fewer features.

      1. How many features do I want, really? Personally I just want USB Serial with FTDI’s excellent drivers at <115200 baud. I don't need a Vccio, nor leds, nor sleep modes. I can get them from the 16 SSOP/10 QFN packages. If I needed those I'd use the larger packages.

        At the moment, for a compact USB transceiver, the best I can come up with is an ATTiny running VUSB doing serial at 2400 baud and iffy driver support.

  5. For companies like FTDI the hoby electronics marked is small, I ques they feel it doesent pay to invest into another package technology.

      1. You might think they’re foolish to miss out on a big opportunity. You might be right, but I’d guess a much more likely scenario is they’re actually pretty wise from many years of experience in their market. Usually sustained commercial success doesn’t happen by accident or via poor decisions. They probably have a very good estimate of potential sales from a DIP package.

      2. I’v seen inside of some very successful companies, and I seen some of the decisions they made and what they based them on … decisions are usually not nearly based on stuff you’d hope they are :D

      3. I agree with Paul. SMD are cheaper to manufacturer, and assemble. Also, I don’t get the deal with the annoying DIPs. They are only good for breakouts, otherwise they are just crab. If you need an cheap/fast prototype, just slap that SMD on a copper clad, and solder it Dead Bug Style :D

      4. Well I checked the new products at mouser… they do actually have breadboard compatible modules available as well like this one: http://tinyurl.com/756q5yg

        They look a bit bigger than PDIP packages but they come with all the external components you need so in the end I’d say you actually safe space with them. They are more expensive than a single chip but as a hobbyist I’d only buy one or two anyways.

    1. take it like this, every arduino had a ftdi on it, both clones and originals …
      now, all new arduino’s don’t have ftdi on them but a “replacement” chip made by atmel.

      yes it is only one project but it ain’t a small one (and yes going dip would not change this move, but if the x-series shown up earlier … )

  6. It’s nice to see an update in the product line. Having watched some other manufacturers introduce similar chips, I have to say that FTDI’s host-side driver support is pretty much top-of-the-line. It’s multi-platform, works well, installs painlessly, and gives you access to all sorts of extra features…
    These new parts seem to be cheaper, as well…

    1. I like FTDI chips as well, but the drivers… they sort of cause BSOD on my machine sometimes, I’m not sure who to blame it on, because I do a lot of weird things with my laptop. But it does seem to BSOD when I do things involving any FTDI devices.

      1. I am not big fun of winblows but I wrote a lot of code that used d2xx drivers on winblows too and I never had a bsod on winxp doing so. I do run winblows inside virtualbox so my “hardware” is for sure working properly :D. Check, maybe you have faulty mobo or some mobo drivers are not up to date … some el-cheapo laptops use some el-cheapo controllers that have shitty software support .. so that can be a reason … btw – always make sure you have latest drivers from ftdi .. or just switch to linux :D

  7. I ordered the SPI, I2C and basic UART demo boards at mouser for less than 10€ each. I’ll give them a try and will post the results.

  8. I’ve been using the FT221X. Regarding the leadless package, assembly by hand is doable with the right tools: a hot air rework station such as the Hakko 803B, and either a stencil or a droplet dispenser (or both) for applying the paste — applying paste with nothing more than a simple syringe is out of the question. For a one-off project, the evaluation module is only $20 and is all through-hole.

    Regarding BSOD, I am using 32-bit Windows Vista, and I’ve yet to have an issue with the FT221X. Any time the serial port hangs, it’s some bug in my host PC application software, not the FT221X.

    My only complaint is FTDI’s horrendous documentation and marketing. The FT221X is marketed as a USB to SPI interface, but it is not really SPI. It is FTDI’s own protocol, FT1248. It’s a good protocol: it allows for very fast communication — faster than SPI — but it is incompatible with the USI hardware module (the Atmel SPI module on their ATtiny microcontrollers).

    You can still salvage some of the Atmel USI module, but you need to implement part of the SPI in software (defeats the point of doing SPI). A doable task, but annoying when you’re going into a project thinking that the FTDI chip is designed to do this already off-the-shelf.

    Another complaint is with their configuration utility software. I hit upon two show-stopping bugs in their FT_Prog utility that held up my development time. On the up-side, they have been great about revising the software and releasing a revision within a few days of reporting the bug.

    Another nice feature is the bit bang mode. For example, you can use the bit bang mode to roll your own SPI interface (and since you can do whatever you want in bit bang mode, this could be a master or a slave). There are three bit bang modes. Again, the documentation sucks, so you kind of just have to try out each mode for yourself to understand what is going on.

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