Say goodbye to power cords with USB 3.0 update

Intel has revealed that an upcoming update to USB 3.0 SuperSpeed that not only increases the throughput available through the interface, but also the power output. This means that you'll be able to transfer data to your USB 3.0 devices at an increased rate, as well as potentially power a range of items without the need for a dedicated power cord.

The USB 3.0 SuperSpeed specifications boost will up the power delivery to 100 watts, from just 10 watts, through delivering a maximum of 20 volts at 5 amps. A range of different power profiles will be available, some that appear to be designed with laptop charging in mind, such as the 60W (20V at 3A) profile. As well as the higher-power profiles, the standard 10W profile (5V at 2A, perfect for smartphone charging) will still remain.

With such a large increase in the power delivery through USB 3.0, it will be possible to power a range of devices from a single USB SuperSpeed hub. You could be charging your laptop, powering an external hard drive and using a second monitor all through just the one hub, and future TV manufacturers could implement high-powered USB hubs that could be used for powering nearby equipment such as low-power HTPCs.

Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), had this to say about the improvements to USB 3.0:

This is going to change the way computers, peripheral devices, and even HDTVs will not only consume but deliver power. You can have an HDTV with a USB hub built into it where not only can you exchange data and audio/video, but you can charge all your devices from it. This power delivery capability is going to extend the ease of use for consumers, reduce clutter in the work and home environment, but also reduce electronic waste filling up landfills with custom chargers.

As well as bumping the power output up to 100W, the spec-boosted USB 3.0 SuperSpeed will also up throughput to 10 Gbps (up from 5 Gbps), which will still fall short of Thunderbolt's 20 Gbps, although USB 3.0 will likely remain far more widespread.

Source: TechSpot, TechHive

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If I'm not misreading, this has nothing much to do with the USB 3.0 upgrade. The USB power delivery spec was first released last year but was probably just mentioned in the news release to get some people to talk about it!

Notably, the spec supports both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 (negotiation for power is done over the voltage rather than the data lines), and you need special "PD-aware" cables for anything more than 7.5W (just in case anyone's wondering) Source: http://www.usb.org/developers/...ery/PD_1.0_Introduction.pdf

Intel demoed it in January: http://www.anandtech.com/show/...elivery-and-display-driving

Nice. Anything that reduces wires I'm all for.

Can someone clarify though, is this a software update, or a hardware update?

M_Lyons10 said,
Nice. Anything that reduces wires I'm all for.

Can someone clarify though, is this a software update, or a hardware update?

hardware

Good riddance to "custom" chargers. A superlative illustration of how corporate arrogance has stifled and still stifles progress. Think back to the "dark ages" of screw-in light bulb bases and 120VAC wall outlets.

I think this is a good thing in general but won't it mean that laptop power adapters will need to be more powerful / bigger as a result?

DonC said,
I think this is a good thing in general but won't it mean that laptop power adapters will need to be more powerful / bigger as a result?
Interesting point, but I think the more likely solution (to avoid that if it were actually a concern) would be to just keep using the old USB 3.0 hardware

Now let's wait for firmware bugs, that fail to negotiate charging parameters correctly and thus asplode your new stupid cryphone/tardphone and fry twice everything that remains.

How will this affect the microUSB charging ports?

Apple is using a proprietary charging system and not the standard that is used by Samsung, Nokia and others, they gave the explanation that there isn't enough power in the current standard.

DOOOMKULTUS said,
How will this affect the microUSB charging ports?

Apple is using a proprietary charging system and not the standard that is used by Samsung, Nokia and others, they gave the explanation that there isn't enough power in the current standard.

apple is using usb3 i believe but with their dodgy connector instead of a usb3 connector. USB3 is able to charge phones WAY faster than regular usb3 phones but unfortunately no phones are out yet that support usb3 charging. It looks as though the Tegra4 chip might support usb3 charging, in which case charging could be way faster.

As good as this sounds... Up to 100w power draw? Gonna be wasting power there to sustain 100w when nothings connected.

n_K said,
As good as this sounds... Up to 100w power draw? Gonna be wasting power there to sustain 100w when nothings connected.

100W is just the maximum power rating. If a device doesn't need 100W it won't draw 100W. Just like your computer doesn't draw 500W from the wall just because you have a 500W power supply in it.

Master of Earth said,
They should have label it as USB 3.1 which make more sense since it's a hardware improvement and avoid confusing the consumer.

USB 3.10 would have been better.

LaXu said,
I hope USB 4 gives us a better connector.
It won't because that would eliminate the big selling point of USB, backwards compatibility. Why would you use USB 4 with a different connector instead of Thunderbolt, for example. The whole point is every existing USB device will work with all the new ports.

Since it's DC it might begin to tighten your muscles, possibly lock up... but you won't die.... (maybe if you have a pace maker?)

Enron said,
Can you get electrocuted by these cables?

It will be near impossible to get electrocuted with 5V USB,unless you are extremely unlucky.

The reason why its so easy to get electrocuted with mains power is because its easy for the human body to be grounded to earth. And since the body is a conductor,if you touch a live wire,you complete the circuit to ground and the electricity passes through you. Also,high voltages easily penetrate through your skin. 5V is such a low voltage that the high resistance of your skin will prevent current from flowing,even if you complete the circuit.

And since USB is a floating ground, completely isolated ground from earth ground, simply touching the USB 5V and standing on earth will do absolutely nothing as current does not flow that way. You would have to touch 5v from USB and ground from USB for current to flow. And the only way current is going to flow through your body is if you connect 5V inside a cut in your skin,and connect USB ground to a another cut in your skin at another location in your body. Remember,your skin has such high resistance that the only way current is going through is through a cut then through body fluid/blood.

When talking about safety you usually talk about the worst case which is 20 v for the laptop profile and of course you could be touching a kitchen faucet for some reason

DAOWAce said,
Yeah, vcfan; you're talking about 5v, not 20v, which is what we're worried about.

everything i said applies to the 20V too. not high enough voltage to penetrate skin,and even if it does penetrate the skin through wet hands or cuts, it has to have a path to the heart. the positive end needs to be at one end of your body,and the negative wire at the other end. Since a usb cable has all wires tightly held together,the only thing that can happen if current passes through your bodypart is a burn. remember,current goes from positive to negative in conventional theory, so lets say a cut or wet finger touches the +ve and -ve terminals(remember,they are right beside each other), the only thing that will happen is a burn or a shock, there is no path to the heart or brain,only a tiny path from +ve to -ve across your finger.

If I buy a new USB 3.0 port, will I also have to buy a new USB 3.0 hard drive to match it? or will existing devices like hard drive be able to take advantage of it?

Any USB device will work but if you want to actually take advantage of USB 3.0 and the higher speeds it offers the device connected needs to have USB 3.0 as well.

20A through a USB connector? They better have increased the plug contacts or there'll be fireworks. In a more realistic case, I'm assuming instead that they'll bump up the voltage to reasonable levels (18V-20V for a laptop) while keeping the current draw much lower than 20A.

Pumping 100W through a USB port/cable.. that's scary to think about. Wonder if they have to make new cables/connectors/ports/etc.

Still; I could see some type of lower power cooking appliance be created from this. No need leave your computer anymore; make food right next to it!

Sweet, sounds like good news. Like others said, would be nice if a firmware update could do it for existing USB3.
All my devices, which are all USB3, are plugged in to a powered USB3 Hub also my 3TB External plugged in to it, also powered, all running off of the 1 USB3 port on my Ultrabook.
I don't really need the USB3 Hub to always be powered, but I did have problems when running too many devices at once, so I ended up plugging it in, no probs since.
So yeah, this new USB3 tech would definitely be handy.

I don't think a simple firmware update will provide more power, the power circuits in the existing USB3 chipsets likely have a hard cap on power output. The new spec will require new hardware

We will finally be able to have external USB drives with 3.5" HDDs without power bricks. About time!

I kinda feel conned as a first adopter even though this is terrific news. My Sabertooth Z77 mobo was a pretty hefty investment in itself, lets hope existing devices get a firmware update to say the least (not likely)..

Hollywood's Karo said,
I kinda feel conned as a first adopter even though this is terrific news. My Sabertooth Z77 mobo was a pretty hefty investment in itself, lets hope existing devices get a firmware update to say the least (not likely)..

Unfortunately this is one of the inherent risks of being a early-adopter.

Hollywood's Karo said,
I kinda feel conned as a first adopter even though this is terrific news. My Sabertooth Z77 mobo was a pretty hefty investment in itself, lets hope existing devices get a firmware update to say the least (not likely)..

In the same boat, my USB 3.0 mobo can't charge my tablet. I really doubt I'm upgrading in the next 2 years as well.

this is quite good; if cars would adopt USB 3 then i could charge not only my phone but my laptop and more powerful equipment while traveling.

> if cars would adopt USB 3 then i could charge not only my phone but my laptop and more powerful equipment while traveling.

Why wait for this? Just get a power inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter.