New spec to boost USB power to 100W

Version 3.0 of the USB standard has already brought a much-needed upgrade in bandwidth from 480Mb/s to 5Gb/s. That's probably quick enough for most external devices, but what about power? SuperSpeed USB kept the voltage at 5V but turned up the current from 500 to 900mA, increasing the wattage from 2.5 to 4.5W. Apparently, that's not enough for the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which is working on a new power-delivery specification that will offer a whopping 100W of power to connected devices.

Although the press release is short on specifications, it indicates the additional power will come with increases in both the current and the voltage supplied over a USB connection. The new standard is said to be compatible with existing cables and connectors, though. Voltage and current levels will be negotiated over existing USB power pins, and systems will be able to switch the direction of power flow without any changes to the cable connection or orientation.

The new power-delivery standard is meant to coexist with USB Battery Charging 1.2 spec, which allows for currents as high as 1.5A. Interestingly, the 100W standard is claimed to work just as well with old-school USB 2.0 connections as it does with those of the SuperSpeed variety.

With additional power on tap, a single USB port should be capable of fueling a much wider range of devices, including notebooks, printers, and monitors. The specification is slated for industry review in the fourth quarter of this year and is expected to be finalized in early 2012.

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