USB Type C – A new breed of USB

USB Type C is a fully fledged standard now and devices with this connection will be out in the shops. But what exactly is USB Type C and how does it differ from other USB connections. It was created at roughly the same time as the new USB 3.1 standard however they revolve around completely different things. The type of the connector represents the physical plug and its pins, wires etc. While the USB specification (2, 3.1 etc) represent the technology standard such as the transfer speed, data signalling rate, power transfer rate (wattage and current send to USB devices) and many other supported technologies.

The big thing with USB type C, is the fact that the connection will be accepted by USB type C devices either way up. Doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference but most of us had had the experience of trying to plug in our mobile phone in the dark and once we have finally found the port with the connector we find its upside down. You then end up messing around trying to get it plugged in correctly. This can damage the phone or charger trying to get them connected the wrong way round. USB Type C takes away this problem.

USB Connection Types

USB connection types

Previous USB standards are shown above. From left to right we have micro USB type B, Mini USB type B, Standard USB type B, and the Standard USB Type A both male and female versions. As you can see none of the above are reverse-able connections. Even the USB type A connections which has a uniform shape, still needs to be placed the correct way round because of the way the pins are located.

Here we have the USB Type C cable. USB Type C ConnectionIn a true USB Setup both ends of the cable will have the USB Type C connector. Most other cables will have the Type A connection on one end to make it fully compatible with most PC’s and laptop computers. Because of this and until it has been widely placed in to home computers, you will find that USB Type C cables will be available with standard Type A at the other end. True USB Type C cables can be used any way up as we have previously mention but they can also be interchanged end to end. There is no Male or Female end on a USB type C cable.

Advantages of USB Type C

Other than the physical advantages of USB Type C, it has other advantages over the previous types as well. It supports the USB 3.1 standard, which gives 10Gbps max transfer rate and can provide up to 100W of power with a 5A current. This means that manufactures will be able to use the new port in order to power a laptop for example where 100W of power is easily enough. It also means that external hard drives and SSD’s can not only transfer data at 10Gpbs but it also means that the external device doesn’t require its own power supply as the USB port will be able to provide enough to keep it running. Add to that the cable is the same on both ends, this means as an end user you will not require many different cables for different devices.

USB Type C also supports Bi-Directional Power, which means that the same port can be used to charge a device or to be charged by a device. The same port and the same cable to do both will be very useful, especially when we are talking about portable devices. Not having to carry many cables and power cable will be very beneficial. At home you would be able to charge up a battery pack via USB on your laptop, then take it with you and re-charge your laptop via the same battery pack when you run low on juice.

The USB Standard

As USB revisions move on the, speeds and the power of the ports increases. To know how fast or how much power your USB ports are capable of at the moment, here is a table of some of the most popular USB revisions and the details of them.

USB revision Max Power Output Max transfer Speed Cable configuration Direction of Power Transfer
USB 1.1 2.5V, 500mA, 1.25W 12Mbps Type A – Type B Host to Peripheral
USB 2.0 2.5V, 1.8A, 4.5W 480Mbps Type A – Type B Host to Peripheral
USB 3.0 5V, 1.8A, 4.5W 5Gbps Type A – Type B Host to Peripheral
USB 3.1 20V, 5A, 100W 10Gbps Type C – Type C reversible Bi-Directional

(V – Volts), (A – Amps), (W – Watts), (Mbps – Mega-Bits per second), (Gbps – Giga-Bits per second)


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