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USB Type-C Next Generation Connector Design Revealed

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 31 comments

Meet the new and improved USB 3.1 Type-C connector.

The USB connector as we know it today has been with us since the mid-to-late 1990s. The things we find on the other end of those USB connectors are radically changed in the past decade; we wouldn't have even imaged charging our smartphones from our computers using the USB cable. Now it's time for USB to modernize itself with the rest of the industry. The USB-IF today unveiled renderings that show what the new Type-C connector will look like.

Announced late last year, USB Type-C will have the handy feature of being reversible, meaning that you'll never have a failed connection again for plugging it in upside down.

Design Characteristics

Entirely new design
•          Tailored for emerging product designs
•          Robust enough for laptops and tablets; slim enough for mobile phones

New smaller size
•          Similar to size of USB 2.0 Micro-B
•          Listen for the “click”

Usability enhancements
•          Reversible plug orientation & cable direction

Supports scalable power charging

Future Scalability
•          Designed to establish future USB performance needs

Specifications

Mechanical specs (preliminary):
•          Receptacle opening: ~8.3mm x ~2.5mm
•          Durability: 10,000 cycles
•          Improved EMI and RFI mitigation features

Power delivery capacity:
•          3A for standard cables
•          5A for connectors

Functional capabilities:
•          USB 2.0: LS/FS/HS
•          USB 3.1: Gen1 (5Gbps)/Gen2 (10Gbps)

Enhanced power delivery options:
•          Extended 5V current ranges plus USB PD

Docking support:
•          USB PD-based interface configuration option

Keep in mind that these are just the early planned specifications. The final specs for USB Type-C are expected to be published sometime in July 2014.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    kenh536 , April 2, 2014 12:10 PM
    This thing had better not be as fragile as the similarly sized micro-usb cable...
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    JQB45 , April 2, 2014 10:55 AM
    Looks ok to me. Whats this "Listen for the 'Click'". I'd rather have feedback I can feel.
  • 9 Hide
    David Dewis , April 2, 2014 11:34 AM
    The EU has passed a law stating all phones (including Apple) must use the same charging cable by 2016 (i think). I heard Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC.etc were taking part in the design process as well. I wonder if this is the design that will be used, it being reversible being the key thing Apple was pushing for, or whether we will see a proprietary USB phone connection
  • 1 Hide
    SirKnobsworth , April 2, 2014 11:35 AM
    Any word on how many pins are in there? Previous reports said that they would have more than the current 9 for future-proofing.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , April 2, 2014 12:10 PM
    Quote:
    The EU has passed a law stating all phones (including Apple) must use the same charging cable by 2016 (i think). I heard Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC.etc were taking part in the design process as well. I wonder if this is the design that will be used

    The last thing I remember reading about it is that micro-B was supposed to be the EU standard for low-power mobile device supplies/chargers. This is not a major problem for USB-C since there will be standard adapters and cables to convert between USB-C and A/B/micro-B. (USB-C is backward-compatible with USB1/2/3 through adapters and cables with built-in adapters.)
  • 11 Hide
    kenh536 , April 2, 2014 12:10 PM
    This thing had better not be as fragile as the similarly sized micro-usb cable...
  • 1 Hide
    skit75 , April 2, 2014 1:05 PM
    This will open the door for competing standards. The one thing USB had going for it was backwards compatibility due to the physical connector not being changed. Now that is going away, it will be interesting to see how motherboard manufacturers react. Will certain motherboard manufacturers go exclusively with one standard vs. another?
  • 2 Hide
    doomtomb , April 2, 2014 1:24 PM
    Interesting to see. I wonder how this vs Thunderbolt will shake up. I don't get why we aren't pushing harder for a universal cable/connector standard. Imagine it, all information these days is digital minus analog audio. All these things are just bits sent down lanes of highway. Make a robust enough connector cable to handle the bandwidth and assignable protocol and ur set for years
  • 4 Hide
    jasonelmore , April 2, 2014 2:43 PM
    WOW 5 Amps. USB is gonna replace the wall outlet in tech driven business's. Kick ass
  • -6 Hide
    wombler , April 2, 2014 2:56 PM
    The spec sounds just like the Lightning connector that Apple is now using for iPhones and iPads. Is it the same thing?Wouldn't be a stupid idea - it's a proven connector and quite robust.
  • 0 Hide
    lp231 , April 2, 2014 3:01 PM
    These images even when enlarged are way too small to see how the type-C connector looks like. But with these early renderings, it looks like the micro USB we're using now with most smart phones. It also looks like both mini and micro HDMI.
  • 2 Hide
    nukemaster , April 2, 2014 3:25 PM
    Quote:
    WOW 5 Amps. USB is gonna replace the wall outlet in tech driven business's. Kick ass
    That is only 25 watts :) 
  • 2 Hide
    coolitic , April 2, 2014 3:41 PM
    "USB Type-C will have the handy feature of being reversible, meaning that you'll never have a failed connection again for plugging it in upside down."# of broken USB ports will be reduced by 90%.
  • 2 Hide
    vern72 , April 2, 2014 4:19 PM
    They wouldn't have had to change the interface if they did it right the first time. They should have designed the cable to be full-duplex right from the start. But, they needed to be cheaper than FireWire to put them out of the running to be the next connection standard.
  • 1 Hide
    David Dewis , April 2, 2014 4:46 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    The EU has passed a law stating all phones (including Apple) must use the same charging cable by 2016 (i think). I heard Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC.etc were taking part in the design process as well. I wonder if this is the design that will be used

    The last thing I remember reading about it is that micro-B was supposed to be the EU standard for low-power mobile device supplies/chargers. This is not a major problem for USB-C since there will be standard adapters and cables to convert between USB-C and A/B/micro-B. (USB-C is backward-compatible with USB1/2/3 through adapters and cables with built-in adapters.)


    I'm pretty sure it's not USB micro B. Apple made a big fuss about going back to non reversible cables (which I agree with) and I believe the other big companies agreed. I'm pretty sure they were designing a new standard altogether.
  • 5 Hide
    InvalidError , April 2, 2014 4:47 PM
    Quote:
    That is only 25 watts :) 

    5A @ 5V is only the new baseline spec.

    The high-power USB specification has provisions to let devices request 12V and 20V if available instead of the default 5V, allowing the power spec to stretch all the way up to 100W. It is intended to replace the countless laptop and other medium-power devices' proprietary external power bricks.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , April 2, 2014 4:59 PM
    20 volts will require a boost regulator(thus more cost and board space). These types of things made firewire more expensive.

    Charging a notebook off usb would be great however.

    My main commend was just about 25 watts(as in 5 amps @ 120 volts vs 5 amps @ 5volts. some users may not know the actual relation of watts to amps) is not LOTS of power, it is a huge bump from the 2.5 watts usb 2.0 has for most devices.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , April 2, 2014 5:19 PM
    Quote:
    I'm pretty sure it's not USB micro B.

    For the moment, all the articles I remember reading point to micro-B being the most likely candidate but since the bill will only get finalized in 2016 and kick in in 2017, there is still plenty of time for the EU to review their plan.
  • 4 Hide
    TechieNewbie , April 2, 2014 7:31 PM
    "Reversible plug orientation & cable direction" Finally the days of reaching around my desktop to plug in a USB only to fail, then reorient the device only to fail, then finally reorient the device back to the original position and successfully plug it in are over. I will, however, miss the original four-dimensional design of USB ports.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , April 2, 2014 8:14 PM
    So far I like what I see... but I really hope they can deliver on their scalability promises. I don't want to see another connector change for a while.
  • 1 Hide
    dcompart , April 2, 2014 8:15 PM
    Quote:
    This thing had better not be as fragile as the similarly sized micro-usb cable...
    I could not agree more! Mini-USB, was smaller, secure and strong. Micro-USB is junk, I cringe anytime I have to transfer data due to the terribly loose, insecure cables that could lead to disconnection. I have gone through phone chargers left and right with micro-usb.
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