The USB 3.0 Promotor Group, which is responsible for the development of the USB 3 specification, has announced the completion of the next-generation “Type-C” USB 3 connector, which has been designed to bring the USB 3 standard up to date with the evolving changes in the consumer electronics industry.
With consumer devices becoming ever more thinner, lighter and more portable, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group saw the need to work on a new “one size fits all” USB 3 connector that is thin enough so it can be used on smartphones and other portable devices, but also robust for notebooks and desktop computers, where speed becomes a more pressing issue. Another aspect of the new Type-C connector the Group focused heavily on is the flaw with all USB connectors in use today – which is the lack of plug reversibility.
Design of the connector
You might be fooled into thinking the image to the right is actually a micro USB connector we’re already familiar with, and it certainly has a strikingly similar design; however the new connector has many distinct differences. With the design being this thin, the Type-C connector will be a great companion on smartphones and tablets – and because the new connector performs all the same tasks full-size USB 3 does, it can be used for both charging and using peripherals – including high speed drives.
What’s more, thanks to the design of the new connector, the plug and cord is fully reversible – meaning the plug can be connected to a Type-C USB port either upside or downside, much like how Apple’s Lightning cables work on iOS devices.
Speed and compatibility
When it comes to compatibility, existing peripherals that use the full size USB plug will be compatible with the new USB 3 Type-C connector through the use of adapters. The cable will also support USB SuperSpeed 10 Gbps and offer USB Power Delivery up to 100W for powering plugged in devices.
Smartphones and tablets
Many smartphones today, including flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5, use the micro-USB standard for charging and syncing. The new USB 3 Type-C connector is very similar in dimensions to micro-USB; which means we will likely see many smartphones and tablets jump over to the new USB 3 standard, offering super-fast data transfer speeds and electrical power delivery.
Given how thin the new connector is, it’s hard not to view the new standard as something more suitable for mobile devices. The new specification is touted by the Promoter Group as a “single-cable solution” for all kinds of devices – and it’s easy to see why. It can do everything standard-size Type-A USB can do, and a lot more. It’s thinner, lighter and its symmetrical technical design means when plugging in devices, you will no longer need to worry about which is the right side up – convenient when you are trying to plug in devices to USB ports hidden from view!
While the specification is now complete, there is still quite a distance in time until we see devices, peripherals and accessories for sale using the USB 3 Type-C spec. With the release, the specification has now been transferred over to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) for the management of the new specification, and to implement compliance and certification programmes.