Next-gen reversible USB cables ready for mass production


The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced the completion of the USB Type-C specification that would bring the next-generation USB connector to consumer systems in the near future.

 

The USB Type-C specification establishes a new cable and connector scheme tailored to fit mobile devices, laptops and tablets. The biggest change besides the smaller size is that the Type-C USBs will be reversible, putting an end to all that fiddling around we do trying to figure out which is the right side in.

 

The specification has been transferred to the USB Implementers Forum for management and establishment of a compliance and certification programme. One of the biggest benefits of the new connector is that it will provide cross-device compatibility greatly increasing interoperation of devices.

 

“Interest in the USB Type-C connector has not only been global, but cross-industry as well,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “Representatives from the PC, mobile, automotive and IoT industries have been knocking down our door anticipating this new standard. This specification is the culmination of an extensive, cooperative effort among industry leaders to standardize the next generation USB connector as a long-lasting, robust solution,” he added.

 

This new cable and connector supports USB performance at SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps (USB 3.1) and USB Power Delivery up to 100W. Other key characteristics include its support for scalable power charging and the Promoter Group claims it's been designed to support future USB performance needs.

 

As for the technical specs, the receptacle opening is about 8.4mm x 2.6mm, which is close to the USB 2.0 connector. Durability is listed as 10,000 cycles, while the group claims it has improved electromagnetic and radio frequency interference mitigation features. The power delivery capacity is listed as 3A for standard cables and 5A for connectors.

 

One thing that might dampen your mood is that the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB ports and plugs (i.e Type-A, Type-B, MicroUSB etc), but the specifications define adapters to allow backward compatibility.

 

The group says the release of the USB Type-C specification is key for a single-cable world, citing the example of a docking solution with a single Type-C cable connection to dock and power PC, as well as a hub that can connect multiple screens streaming video and some spare bandwidth for other functions. That definitely sounds very powerful, though we'll have to see how many real world solutions such as this pop up and how affordable they are for mass adoption. Needless to say, the PC and consumer tech industry has backed the new connector in a big way.

 

Tom Bonola, HP Fellow and Chief Technologist for Business Personal Systems said, “HP is committed to the new USB Type-C connector as a way to deliver on all of these needs while supporting the full breadth of USB devices and providing a pathway for future innovations to create and deliver superior customer value and experience.

 

"This next generation of USB technology opens the door for the invention of an entirely new, super thin class of devices that consumers haven’t even seen yet,” said Alex Peleg, vice president, Platform Engineering Group, Intel. “The USB Type-C connector, combined with high-performance data and power, is the ideal single-cable solution for all devices now and into the future.”

 

“Microsoft sees this new USB Type-C interface becoming the next generation industry standard for high speed wired local connectivity," said Ilan Spillinger, corporate vice president for technology and silicon in Microsoft's Devices Group. "It will offer more intuitive consumer experience by means of reversible plug orientation and cable direction designs. Further, this new USB Type-C allows for radically higher data speeds and power carrying capabilities compared to the existing methods. As one of the key industry players behind the new design, we at Microsoft believe this is an important milestone in consumer electronics ecosystem development."


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