Next Generation USB Will Be Smaller And Reversible

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

New USB-C connector will be the same both ends, and both ways up, thank goodness!

The next generation USB-C connector will be smaller, support the USB 3.1 standard, and will work either way up, simplifying  the fiddly process of plugging a cable into your PC or other device.

The smaller size connector is designed for both ends of the cable and can plug in either way up, which will eliminate one of the main advantages claimed for Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.  Proposals for the new connector have been circulated by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group and summarised in a press release which describes it as “thinner and sleeker”. It should be finalised by the middle of 2014.

USB cable Type A Typeb B © JIANG HONGYAN ShutterstockEnd fiddly USB misery!

At present, USB cables usually have a rectangular end to go into the PC or other “host”, with one of the far-too-many versions of Type-B connector on the other end. The new version of USB will have the proposed Type-C on both ends.

Type-A and Type-B connectors only plug in one way up, so users invariably have to try both ways, causing wear and tear on the connectors and sockets. The Type-C connector will be easier to use, as it is pluggable either way up.

The spec will also support scalable power – the new USB 3.0 specification will deliver up to 100W -making it possible to charge laptops over USB, a feature which is enthusing vendors.

“Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable  an entirely new super thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices,” says Alex Peleg, Intel’s vice president, platform engineering group. “This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”

It’s not going to happen overnight though. As the cable represents a change from existing cables, there will be a bunch of passive adapters available to connect new devices to those using the existing connectors and receptacles.

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