USB Type-C, USB PD & USB 3.1 Gen 2 deliver new standards in speed & power

Author : Bruce Rose | Principal Applications Engineer | CUI & Rich Miron | Applications Engineer | Digi-Key

01 April 2019

USB Type-C, USB PD, USB 3.1 Gen 2

‘Faster, higher, stronger’ goes the legendary Olympic hendiatris – adapted now for the electronics industry as ‘Faster, smaller, easier to use’: the rallying cry for a new standard in USB connectivity.

This article was originally featured in the Digi-Key Article Library and in the April 2019 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

In this tutorial, Bruce Rose, Principal Applications Engineer at power electronics experts, CUI and Rich Miron, Applications Engineer at electronic components distributor, Digi-Key Electronics talk us through the features, specifications and advantages of the latest USB standards…

You have probably already seen a new generation of computing products in-store featuring the latest USB Type-C (USB-C) ports, a trend that is expected to increase significantly in the future due to USB-C’s unique ability to transmit data, power and even audio over a single wired connection. According to market analyst, ABI Research, we have already reached the tipping point for USB Type-C, with global shipments of smartphones equipped with this USB connector estimated to reach 830 million by 2021. At only 9mm wide and 3.5mm high, it is certainly smaller than its predecessors, allowing equipment manufacturers to create even smaller devices. Its arrival on the scene is also perfectly timed to meet the requirements of emerging product groups, including home automation, as well as IoT devices such as smart sensors that fit seamlessly with this latest smaller, less bulky connector package.

Ease-of-use
USB-C cables can be inserted either way up, and can cope with the power required for devices such as laptops, negating the need to carry around numerous cables for different uses.

This added versatility is facilitated with greater complexity inside the connector (Figure 1). To start with, it has more conductors. Unlike USB Type-A and Type-B connectors, which require four or five conductors, USB-C comprises 24 contacts which allow for bidirectional insertion, and support four power and ground pairs, together with two signal pairs. In addition, its durability rating increases to 10,000 insertions, compared to 1,500 for previous versions.

The power and ground pairs for USB-C are rated for voltages up to 20V, as well as a current rating that is increased to provide an overall rating of 5A, combining to transfer power up to 100W across a single USB-C connection. What is more, each data-pin pair can manage data-transfer rates of up to 10 Gbps, meaning the connector has a total combined capability of 20 Gbps.

Latest USB-IF data and power specifications...


To read the full version of this article, visit the Digi-Key Article Library or read EPDT magazine's April 2019 digital issue.


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