USB 3.0 Cables to Power PCs and Peripherals
News of USB 3.0 cables eventually being used to power laptops and large power-hungry peripherals has been circulating for months. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) finally has the semblance of something concrete to sate some of the public’s curiosity. This past July the forum was able to complete the standard for the new USB Power Delivery technology, or USB PD for short.
What’s so innovative about USB PD? It’s not only a new power delivery system, but one that strives to power a wide array of computers and peripherals through specific high-watt USB cables. The goal is to eventually reach a standard way of charging devices, without the need for brand specific adapters and accessories.
If the developers from the USB-IF companies are successful in creating these USB cables, their introduction might make the USB interface even more mainstream and widespread than it already is. This kind of development may just cause the obsolescence of competing bus interfaces or their fall into obscurity (Thunderbolt, in particular, comes to mind).
USB 3.0 Cable Power
What makes USB PD such a threat is its aim at providing 100 watts of power at its maximum output. The wattage current USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 cables deliver pales in comparison. USB 2.0 can only deliver 2.5 watts, and the standard USB 3.0 cable provides just 4.5 watts. There is a battery charging variation of USB, called USB BC, that can manage up to 7.5 watts of power, but even that is insignificant to the beefy 100-watt specification of USB PD.
To avoid the possibility of shorting out devices, not all the new USB PD cables will be given the capacity to handle 100 watts. The power offered by each cable will depend on what devices will receive power through it: 10 watts for handhelds, 18 watts for tablets and most other accessories, 36 watts for ultrabooks and larger peripheral devices, 60 watts for hefty notebooks and docking stations, and finally, 100 watts for high-consumption power workstations.
Plug It In?
According to the USB-IF, devices with the new power delivery system may come out before the end of 2012. With Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Microsoft listed as some of the companies pushing for the technology, USB PD’s success would certainly mean widespread adoption. It wouldn’t be so far-fetched to expect USB cables to be plugged into wall sockets to charge most computers and peripherals.