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USB Type-C Next Generation Connector Design Revealed

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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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • JQB45
    Looks ok to me. Whats this "Listen for the 'Click'". I'd rather have feedback I can feel.
    Reply
  • David Dewis
    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
    Reply
  • SirKnobsworth
    Any word on how many pins are in there? Previous reports said that they would have more than the current 9 for future-proofing.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    13015518 said:
    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.)
    Reply
  • kenh536
    This thing had better not be as fragile as the similarly sized micro-usb cable...
    Reply
  • skit75
    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?
    Reply
  • doomtomb
    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
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    WOW 5 Amps. USB is gonna replace the wall outlet in tech driven business's. Kick ass
    Reply
  • wombler
    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.
    Reply
  • lp231
    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.
    Reply