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USB 3.1 and Type-C: The only stuff at CES that everyone is going to use

Discussion in 'All other topics' started by ireland, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. ireland

    ireland Active member

    Nov 28, 2002
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    USB 3.1 and Type-C: The only stuff at CES that everyone is going to use

    The new specifications are almost here—we actually have a cable!

    I have a USB Type-C cable—yeah, the reversible one. I can't connect it to anything I own yet, but it's a real thing that's in production and shipping to companies. Most of CES amounts to so much smoke and mirrors and vague hand-waving about the Future, but I can say with confidence that this little port is a thing that everyone reading this will start using in the next couple of years.

    I got the cable from the USB Implementers Forum as part of a general update on the state of both USB 3.1 and the new reversible Type-C connector. There wasn't much information about either spec that we haven't already heard, but the difference is that the connector and spec update are very close to being in our hands.

    Early adopters, and where we'll see Type-C connectors
    Products using either the Type-C connector, the USB 3.1 spec, or both are already floating around CES—there's the Nokia N1 Android tablet on the mobile side, and MSI's new USB 3.1 laptop and motherboard on the PC side. By the end of the year, we expect to see more mainstream products taking up the standard as well.

    "There's not enough supply right now for the demand," Jeff Ravencraft, President and COO of the USB-IF, told Ars. "We have the cable and connector guys in production, and we're hearing from our cable and connector suppliers that some of these guys have dedicated lines for particular manufacturers. We don't know who, but those are some early indicators, and I think as we see the products roll out starting now through the first half of the year we'll start to see a groundswell as we go into the back half of the year."

    Further Reading

    A brief history of USB, what it replaced, and what has failed to replace it
    USB isn't perfect, but it replaced lots of ports we'll never have to see again.

    One important point of clarification that Ravencraft emphasized was that USB 3.1 and USB Type-C don't necessarily have to go hand-in-hand—news about these two specifications have often been announced at the same time, and it hasn't always been clear whether one spec required the other. Since USB Type-C cables have dedicated pins for USB 2.0 data, It's possible for OEMs to use the Type-C connector alongside the older spec, and the Nokia N1 tablet does just that.

    "I think a lot of people associate performance and power all with this cable and connector," said Ravencraft, "which in one sense is fine, but in another sense it's bad, because it's not the cable and connector. You have to have 3.1 silicon in the host and in the device. If you have power delivery, you have to have it on the host and the device, and then obviously if you want Type-C you at least have to have the receptacle on both ends for Type-C."

    We expect that this will be common in mobile devices in particular; using USB 2.0 over Type-C cables means you don't need to include a separate USB 3.1 controller in either your phone or your PC, but you still get the benefit of the reversible connector—whether they're trying to save money or physical space, most OEMs tend to stay away from separate controller chips when they can.

    What Type-C, USB 3.1, and USB Power Delivery can do for you



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