Spec for reversible USB Type-C connector finalized

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has finished the specification for its new, reversible USB connector design. First announced last December, the USB 3.1 Type-C connector is about the same size as the Micro USB connector, but it's symmetrical, which allows it to be plugged in upside down or right-side up with no ill effects. The design is similar to that of Apple's Lightning connector, and it should blissfully circumvent the USB quantum superposition problem.

Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group.

According to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, the Type-C connector is equally suitable for phones and notebooks, and it was conceived with higher speeds, greater power delivery, and future expandability in mind. It supports 10Gbps transfer rates (thanks to the USB 3.1 spec), can pump out as much as 100W of power to a device, and is primed for "future USB performance needs." (Presumably, then, 10Gbps isn't the upper limit.) The only downside is the lack of backward-compatibility with current connector designs, but the specification does call for "passive new-to-existing cables and adapters."

Now that the spec is complete, it's been transfered to the USB Implementers Forum, which will oversee "ongoing management and the establishment of a compliance and certification program." The announcement doesn't say when we can expect the first Type-C devices to turn up, but I assume it's only a matter of time.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Passive adapters for old cables and devices.

    Are you hearing this Apple, Intel? This is why nobody likes your stupidly overpriced interface.

    Anyway, my MicroUSB port is fresh as a daisy thanks to wireless charging.

    • Krogoth
    • 5 years ago

    I never understood the problem of seating USB connections. I never had problems getting in the right way.

    • sschaem
    • 5 years ago

    I so wish they would have copied apple lighting connector model …
    Oh well… maybe the E version. But at least anything is better then Type A mini.

    • Wirko
    • 5 years ago

    The new standard has another advantage which is neither mentioned nor illustrated here: the C connector is meant to replace both A and B, and cables can have [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/8377/usb-typec-connector-specifications-finalized<]same type of connector at both ends[/url<]. This has funny consequences. We'll be able to connect devices in ways that aren't possible now; their roles will no longer be defined by connectors. What will happen when a smartphone is connected to a PC? Either one can act as host if the other one is willing to act as peripheral device. Can both be hosts at the same time?

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      USB OTG gone wild!

      • helix
      • 5 years ago

      Peer-to-peer?

      • faramir
      • 5 years ago

      Oh yeah, very funny consequences … Especially when people start plugging chargers into one another just because they can.

        • Mourmain
        • 5 years ago

        INFINITE POWERRR!!!

    • hasseb64
    • 5 years ago

    Been twisting USB connectors for 20 years, it’s part of the typical PC DIY enviroment: big, cumbersome and clumsy.
    Who woke this poor USB-Standardization group? They got struck by a lightning?

      • Wirko
      • 5 years ago

      Maybe the thunder hit them before the lightning.

      However, the DisplayPort connector isn’t exactly small either, and the standard was set about 10 years after USB came around.

      Erratum: Ooh, so the thunderbolt connector is almost reversible … I thought it [i<]is[/i<] reversible.

    • UberGerbil
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]should blissfully circumvent the USB quantum superposition problem.[/quote<]Which isn't going to change the fact that most people will require at least two attempts to make a successful connection, whether they're changing plug orientation in between or not. Someday we'll have docking ports like those used on Apollo and for air-to-air refueling, where the receptacle is a cone that guides the plug into position.

      • bthylafh
      • 5 years ago

      You mean like an RCA jack? 😛

        • ClickClick5
        • 5 years ago

        Or, make this work for USB 2.0, and then create one to house nine segments. EDIT: for USB 3.0.

        [url<]http://www.daidaatdei.com/mz/247-large_default/black-rubber-earphone-converter-adapter-convert-omtp-to-ctia-or-ctia-to-omtp-35mm-to-35mm.jpg[/url<] Pow.

      • mesyn191
      • 5 years ago

      If they put a inward angled bezel around the port it’d perform much the same function as what you’re talking about.

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        But then you run into issues when plugging a device into the jack because the jack is set back further than expected.

          • mesyn191
          • 5 years ago

          Depends. You might not need much of a angle/depth to get the ‘self guiding’ effect. I know a little seemed to go a long way with those RCA jacks.

            • willmore
            • 5 years ago

            No arguement there. Too bad there is no ‘tip’ on these like good old 1/4″ TRS connectors. Those things practacally mated themselves.

      • oldog
      • 5 years ago

      Cone and plug sounds like a biologic phenomenon.

    • mesyn191
    • 5 years ago

    Reversibility and speed + power improvements are great but I wonder about durability.

    Current micro USB ports on smartphones and such sure are small but its now become normal to see phones with janky ports that have to be held or plugged in ‘just so’ in order to charge.

    Fast is great but it has to work first and foremost.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      The plug itself (for micro USB) is rated for 10 x the cycles of the mini USB connector which is in turn rated for 10x the cycles of the original full sized USB connector.

      That said, what you’re probably seeing fail in the junction of the connector and the PCB onto which it is mounted. Do a bad job with that and there’s not much the connector can do to make it better.

        • mesyn191
        • 5 years ago

        Yea the plug rating sounds impressive but as you note may not be telling the whole story when it comes to measuring durability.

        PCB connection/retention of the port seems to be a part of the spec and what those pics are showing doesn’t look impressive to me at all.

          • willmore
          • 5 years ago

          It’s probably an issue of “if you do it right and use good materials, you can meet these specs, but you can also cheap out on materials, manufacturing quality, and design and end up with a crappy device, you choose.” Sort of like it always has been.

          So, my take would be that, if the spec when implemented properly *can* live up to what they claim, then anything that doesn’t live up to it is because someone cut a corner somewhere.

          Oh, and that’s pretty much a constant for every part ever. I’ve got a bunch of devices with other connectors that are flakey, too. 🙂 Heck, I resoldered the power connector in my old laptop three times before I replace the thing outright.

            • mesyn191
            • 5 years ago

            With current micro USB ports the problem seems to be widespread and even the high end smartphones are effected and have been across multiple models for years now.

            We haven’t seen these new ports in action much less seen how they hold up after some use and abuse but I don’t see any reason to be optimistic here.

            • willmore
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, I see your point. I don’t see any reason these should be better or worse that what we’ve seen in the past. And, yes, I would like to see the industry work to improve that.

        • sschaem
        • 5 years ago

        Yes, but it seem the design is putting a LOT of pressure on the connector.

        Because is so shallow, the cable easily pull the connector oft the PCB like its a crowbar…

        Its a USB design fault. It can be remedied with good package design, but it seem that for many devices the mini usb port is the weak link. and a device is as solid as its weakest link.

        In contrast, compare the cable/fit of a lighting connector on on a ipad mini. Its rock solid at all levels.
        (and its reversible for years now)

        I think the USB ‘commity’ dropped the ball big time… and the C spec is lackluster 🙁

      • Wirko
      • 5 years ago

      The USB promoter group has created these durability ratings out of thin air. I’m pretty sure that a full size connector can have 100 times the durability of an average micro-USB connector if it’s built with high quality materials.

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        [citation needed you troll]

      • zzz
      • 5 years ago

      No, it’s not normal to see a phone with a ‘janky’ usb port, you’re thinking low-quality 5 year old phones and cameras, mostly cameras. and definitely portable hardrives.

        • mesyn191
        • 5 years ago

        All my co-workers have phones around a 1 yr or 2 old, some less, and are getting this issue. Most of the phones are high or mid range (ie. S4 or 3, Maxx), they needed to sign contracts to afford them, and they aren’t kids who beat up the phones. They mid-30’s/40’s.

        Neither my co-workers nor myself are made of money and do not treat stuff that cost hundreds of dollars like crap.

        Their kids go through phones roughly once a year it seems. Yes even the ones with iPhones.

        My personal phone is a Tianhe H9008 (cheap-ish Chinese smartphone, MTK6592 based) with a micro USB3 port and hasn’t had this issue yet though I’ve had it for less than a year. My older LG phone did start to have that issue late in the 3rd yr I had it.

    • Forge
    • 5 years ago

    If that connector really is similar in size to micro USB, I have grave concerns about putting 100W through it.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      IIRC, they’re doing it not by upping the current, but by upping the voltage. There’s plenty of voltage headroom. Since wattage is current * voltage, you can pretty safely put 100W through a connector like this.

        • ludi
        • 5 years ago

        5A @ 20V for suitably-designed cords:

        [url<]http://www.usb.org/developers/powerdelivery/PD_1.0_Introduction.pdf[/url<] Even so, I tend to share Forge's reservations. I have no doubt a new, clean connection can deliver that amount of current. A dirty, half-wrecked jack, not so much. OTOH the failsafe for a faulty connection is probably for the host and client to negotiate back down to a lower level of delivery, and if the client device can't power from it, then the setup simply won't work.

          • willmore
          • 5 years ago

          Sounds like a smart designer would stick a thermistor on the other side of the PCB from the jack and keep an eye on it during charging.

    • Milo Burke
    • 5 years ago

    Nooo! This will be the death of my favorite meme!

    [url<]http://cdn.arwrath.com/1/138327.jpg[/url<] [url<]http://www.brainspill.huntfamilywebsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/usb-1.png[/url<] [url<]http://www.quickmeme.com/img/4e/4e6246941390ddc04bb04f309aaa3a7228064fa7cb679ac8b6ca0a78ef44353c.jpg[/url<] Edit: Oops, looks like Cyril sort of beat me to it: [quote<]...and it should blissfully circumvent the USB quantum superposition problem.[/quote<]

      • hbarnwheeler
      • 5 years ago

      I’m not sure I get it. Do most people not know how to orient a USB device/cable without trial and error?

        • Milo Burke
        • 5 years ago

        Correct. Most people don’t.

    • chuckula
    • 5 years ago

    If only C3PO had the USB-C connector. Then Chewbacca couldn’t have reassembled him backwards.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 5 years ago

      I’ve seen little-old ladies put a DB-15 plug in backwards so I am fairly certain Chewy could assemble C3PO in any configuration he pleased.

      • willmore
      • 5 years ago

      You’ve got that backwards. It was *because* he used this connector that he was able to do that.

    • bthylafh
    • 5 years ago

    The reversibility is very nice and long overdue, but I’m more excited about eventually having a standard charger for all laptops.

      • hoboGeek
      • 5 years ago

      I can see laptops being replaced by tablets/convertibles, which they do have a standard-ish microUSB charging plug.

      • dmjifn
      • 5 years ago

      Using the same power / data cable to charge your laptop that you use to charge your tablet and phone would rock, fo’ sho’.

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