USB Cable

New 100W USB 3.0 Spec Can Charge Laptops

100W of USB could make your power brick obsolete

On by Max Smolaks 5

USB 3.0 Promoter Group, a consortium of companies including Intel, HP, Microsoft an ST-Erricson, has announced the new USB Power Delivery specification which includes the ability to transfer up to 100 Watts (W) through the familiar socket.

The new standard will enable convenient charging of laptops and other power-hungry devices, such as external HDDs and printers, while also offering 5 Gbit/s data transfer rate. The Group hopes that the new cable will help eliminate device-specific chargers, and result in less e-waste.

Raw power

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group was responsible for the development of the USB 3.0 specification that was released in November 2008. Since then, it has been working on improving the standard, thinking up features that would deliver a better user experience.

USB PortThe USB 2.0 and 3.0 Promoter Groups have already handed the specification’s management to the USB Implementers Forum, a non-profit corporation that has supported the format since its inception.

Under the new specs, the cable will be able to supply much more power than the 2.5W that is delivered by USB 2.0, and 4.5W previously delivered by USB 3.0.

The USB Power Delivery specification enables a switchable source of power without changing cable direction. It will feature six power profiles, and will be able to alter between them on the fly.

According to semiaccurate.com, Profile 1 will feature 2 Amps, delivered at 5 Volts, while Profile 2 will offer 5V@ 2A or 12V@1.5A. Profile 3 can deliver 5V@2A or 12V@3A, and Profile 4 goes up to 20V@3A. Profile 5 reaches the full 100W, offering 12V or 20V at 5A.

The high power charging will require special, electronically detectable and very clever “USB Power Delivery” certified cables, which will be backwards compatible with all types of USB 2.0 and 3.0.

“USB Power Delivery enables a path to greatly reduce electronic waste by eliminating proprietary, platform-specific chargers,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group chairman. “We envision a significant move toward universal charging based on this specification, most notably for charging notebook PCs using standardized USB power bricks or when connected to USB hubs and desktop displays that integrate USB Power Delivery capabilities.

“We believe USB Power Delivery is the next big step in the USB evolution to provide high bandwidth data and intelligent power over a simple, single, ubiquitous cable,” commented Robert Hollingsworth, senior vice president and general manager of the USB Products Group at SMSC.

“USB has always combined data and power over a single cable, and this is widely believed to be a major contributor to the present ubiquity of USB. Power Delivery builds on that success and adds full bi-directional power that can be renegotiated as system power needs change with the end-user,” he added.

A question remains: will companies like Apple, who have used proprietary chargers and connectors for years despite the prevalence of the USB standard, adopt the new cable?

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5 replies to New 100W USB 3.0 Spec Can Charge Laptops

  • On July 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm by Alex

    “A question remains: will companies like Apple, who have used proprietary chargers and connectors for years despite the prevalence of the USB standard, adopt the new cable?”

    Apple uses a custom connector because USB doesn’t have any pins for features they need, like analog audio, composite video, and S-video. Until USB starts adding these features that Apple needs, I can’t see why they would.

    Prevalence means nothing if it doesn’t support your needs. Fried chicken is even more popular than USB, and it’s been around for years, and Apple doesn’t use that, either, because like USB, it has no audio line-out.

    • On July 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm by apmechev

      Good thing micro-HDMI doesn’t exist.

    • On July 25, 2012 at 1:51 am by insanemal

      No. Apple uses custom connectors to create lock-in.

      Usb based connectors can provide Audio and video output. In their new rage of gear they did give in and use a standard connector its called Thunderbolt and it allows for USB/Firewire/1GE and HDMI all over one cable.

      You can do audio via a usb connector have a look at the HTC phones their mini-usb port is also the headphone socket.. and yes the headphones have a usb connector on them. You can also get a line in/out adaptor to attach to the usb port as well.

      Your statement is stupid and misguided and shows you do not understand the technology.

    • On July 25, 2012 at 6:17 am by Todd Hubers

      @Alex
      “Apple uses a custom connector because USB doesn’t have any pins for features they need, like analog audio, composite video, and S-video”

      No Alex, that’s not correct, because Apple could simply base their proprietary off a USB connector such that an Apple device is backward compatible with USB. The connector would look like a USB male connector with additional connectors adjacent.

      Apple makes money from being proprietary.

  • On July 25, 2012 at 3:54 am by Cord

    This is great! This would be so much better than having 10 different chargers for 10 different devices… I like the idea of just taking my current USB smart phone charger and being able to plug that right into my laptop and start charging it that simple. This would make traveling so much lighter!!!

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