USB Power Delivery spec offers up to 100W

A little less than a year ago, we learned that the USB Implementers Forum, the governing body behind the interface standard, was working to boost output power to 100W. The USB Power Delivery specification is now complete, and you can read all the sordid details in the updated USB 3.0 spec. The Power Delivery PDF weighs in at over 300 pages, so we’ll give you some highlights.

The most important element of the new specification isn’t the increase in maximum power, but a change in how that power can be transmitted. Current USB implementations allow power to flow only from the host to connected devices. The USB Power Delivery spec allows current to flow in either direction. Devices like laptops will be able to charge their batteries over the same ports they use to power external peripherals.

More power is on tap in the new specification, of course. There are five different power profiles, starting with a base level that offers 5V on 2A for a total of 10W. The second profile adds a 12V source at 1.5A, and the third boosts 12V power to 3A. The fourth and fifth profiles add a 20V line at 3A and 5A, respectively. Only the fifth profile is capable of delivering 100W. According to the USB-IF, devices designed for the lower profiles should work just fine in ports that support the higher profiles. Even the base profile more than doubles the power available via a standard USB 3.0 port.

Despite dramatically ramping up the wattage, the USB Power Delivery specification uses the same physical connectors as existing products. Data and power continue to share the same cable. New cables will be required to carry the extra juice, of course, but your old thumb drive will still work in the high-power ports.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman Brad Saunders expects the Power Delivery spec to enable “a significant move toward universal charging,” and I hope he’s right. So many devices rely on USB power these days, and no one likes bulky wall warts.

Comments closed
    • Derfer
    • 7 years ago

    Why is it all standard connectors have a right side up? It’s easy to adapt to sure, but it does annoy, and risks damage components when the layman tries to force it (happens more often then you’d think)

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      Is that a trick question? How else would the pins/contacts line up correctly?

      I suppose you could stack the contacts depth-wise as per a stereo headphone jack, but then you run the risk of shorting stuff out. There is no risk of shorting with headphones/mics or even speakers because the circuit isn’t grounded.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Or how about polarized, non-gendered connectors like the Anderson PowerPole?

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Giving the asian driver developers access to 100W of power over a cheap, made-in-china USB cable is a bad idea.

    I forsee melted cables and “burnt elecetronics” smells everywhere!

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      retarded post, nothing more to say..

    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    The PSU manufacturers must be drooling over this. A typical motherboard has… what… something like 12 USB ports these days? If mobo makers upgrade all of them to the new spec, you’ll need a 1600W+ PSU just to ensure that your system + all the USB peripherals you could theoretically plug into it have enough juice!

    • glacius555
    • 7 years ago

    Gadgets of tomorrow: iHeat, iCool, iDry and iPump!!

      • ew
      • 7 years ago

      iGrill [url<]http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/looflirpa/igrill.shtml[/url<]

    • swengw
    • 7 years ago

    This will be useful for my USB pet rock.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Hah! That is one way to simply bypass the whole proprietary powerbrick BS that laptop makers have been doing for years. They can try to avoid having their laptops charged by illicit USB devices by simply not supporting the spec, but then thats one less feature they can add to their list. XD

      • khands
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed, also will be nice for a better heating/cooling USB coaster, the ones out right now just don’t quite pack enough punch.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        A USB cooling coaster would be quite amazing. I’ve never heard of one before. It would most definitely be something I’m interested in too.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 7 years ago

    Get ready for more ridiculous USB gadgets.

    A USB powered hair dryer? Why not?

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Guy at work swears by his USB drink warmer, and we had to go through quite a hunt to find hubs that were compatible with it. Whatever keeps them happy…

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I’d like to see an effective hair dryer that only consumes 100W. Maybe some new ultra-efficient ceramic heater (instead of those metal coils)?

      I’m looking forward to some serious force-feedback enabled controllers that don’t need a wall plug

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]I'm looking forward to some serious force-feedback enabled controllers that don't need a wall plug[/quote<] Is it a bad thing that the first thing that comes to mind is sex toys? I blame the internets.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]More power is on tap in the new specification, of course. There are five different power profiles, starting with a base level that offers 5V on 2A for a total of 10W. The second profile adds a 12V source at 1.5A, [b<]and the third boosts 12V power to 3A.[/b<] [/quote<] Power measured in Amps? Did I miss that day in class?

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      Perhaps you just missed the class on multiplication?

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        He is pedantic, but correct. As the saying goes, great names in science may come and go, but Ampere is always current.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          I don’t think it is. The sentence says “12V power” is boosted. Power is measured in volts, and English grammar remains confusing.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            No – power is measured in watts

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            Which is Volts times Amps

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            Only for DC, in AC its volt-amps, since the current wave can be leading or lagging the voltage wave.

            And big industry usually pays the hydro utility in volt-amps not in watts, since most large induction motors have a ‘lagging’ current wave (as most inductors do), so if you measure the volts (say 600) and amps (say 10), you end up with 6000VA, however if you measure wattage it may end up around 5000W………..ya I will quit now sorry.

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            You just made me remember my 4th-year courses on 3-phase power systems.

            Burn in hell, spawn of Satan!

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            ๐Ÿ˜€

            Don’t make me break out harmonics and imaginary/complex numbers ๐Ÿ˜‰

            Wonder if I would have enjoyed electrical engineering more than mechanical………hmmmmmmmmm

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Wonder if I would have enjoyed electrical engineering more than mechanical.........hmmmmmmmmm[/quote<] I know I did

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Or, to use the ever-popular plumbing analogy:

            Volts = potential difference in volts. Similar to the pressure in a water system. If I open this here faucet, how hard will it spray?

            Amps = current in amps. Similar to the maximum diameter of the faucet opening. Am I opening the tap on a garden faucet, or a fire hydrant?

            Power = power in Watts, or volts x amps. Also, joules per second. Similar to the volume of water extracted from the faucet per unit time. If I open this faucet and point it at that wheel, how much spinny-spinny am I going to get every second (watts), and how much expended water fell into the bucket underneath over a total period of time (joules)?

            Resistance = resistance in ohms, or volts / amps. If I kink the hose, how much did I change the water flow as a function of the faucet pressure and hose diameter?

            For those writing up exam cheat sheets at home, that works out to:

            V (volts) = I (amps) * R (ohms)

            P (watts) = V (volts) * I (amps)

            J (joules) = P (watts) * t (seconds)

            By algebraic substitution, P = V^2 / R = I^2 * R

            Then, everyone fell asleep.

            • dpaus
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Then, everyone fell asleep[/quote<] I actually nodded off at the beginning of the third paragraph....

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            Once again basically valid for DC.

            AC is a whole new ballgame.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Well, yeah, but it’s close enough for the layman, and for purposes of developing a high-school level comprehension, even single-phase AC behaves “close enough” in the ordinary ways that the layman encounters it.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            And “valid for DC” is valid in the context of USB port power…

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            Or horsepower if you are old ๐Ÿ˜‰

            edit: or young.

            Hey Neely, how much watts of power does your automobile engine put out? ๐Ÿ˜‰

            My USB 3.0 has 0.134 h.p. muwahahah

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Now you’re just being silly..

            (2.3e5)

            • anotherengineer
            • 7 years ago

            Well everyone is allowed to be silly now and again.

            2.3e5 = 230000w

            230000w/746(w/hp) = 308 h.p.

            Neely I didn’t think you would drive something with so much POWER!!!!!!!!!

            I figured you as a smart car kinda guy.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            I like the environment, but I like fast cars, too… So, sport diesel was a natural pick (a 335d with JBD)

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            The manual for my motorcycle actually lists both. I had to do a double take and suffer a flashback to college physics before it became clear.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            Do they not teach electricity in school anymore?

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 7 years ago

            dey dun stoped wit duh gramair 2.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 7 years ago

          Thanks for the compliment. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kurotetsu
    • 7 years ago

    Should be great for 3.5-inch spinning hard drives and internal optical drives. No more need for an external power supply to use them outside a case (especially for DVD burners, which are all restricted to 6x speed when using current USB power).

    • bthylafh
    • 7 years ago

    Looking forward to being able to use any old charger with a laptop.

    Unless it’s an Apple laptop, natรผrlich.

    • gmskking
    • 7 years ago

    USB 3.0 was DOA

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<][i<]Troll comment[/i<] was DOA[/quote<] ftfy

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Hrmm… looks like USB [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BRv9wGf5pk<]has made it into the early '90s[/url<].

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      USB always had power. Now it has more power.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]"a significant move toward universal charging"[/quote<] >slow clap<

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      Why slow? It should be an overjoyed clap!

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Why slow?[/quote<] Because it was so long coming, my muscles atrophied.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve wondered what some newer motherboards mean when they advertise fast-charge features via USB. Do they somehow provide more current than spec when in charge mode or when the PC is off?

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Yes and no. Yes they can provide higher currents than traditional USB ports (5V at .5A) and they can do it while the host device is asleep. No in that it’s not a violation of the newer USB specs, IIRC, they allow up to 5V at 2A.

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