If you own a PC, smart phone, tablet, or nearly any electronic device requiring electronic communication or electrical charging, you are undoubtedly very familiar with USB type A and have likely dealt with the frustration of incorrectly orienting the connector when connecting the cable to a device. This all too familiar struggle is about to come to an end as a new USB connector takes aim to become the king of connectors.
USB Type-C is a newly introduced physical connector that supports USB standards. It is important to understand that the type of USB connector does not directly correlate to a specific USB version; however, USB Type-C has strong ties to the USB 3.1 standard – more on that later.
Following suit of Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, the USB Type-C connector is reversible. The connector contains pins called Configuration Channel Pins which interact with the device controller to determine which way the cable has been attached to make the appropriate adjustments to facilitate data and power transfer. This eliminates the frustration and potential for damage to a device eliminating the requirement to orient the connector correctly.
In addition to being reversible, the main advantage of the USB Type-C connector is its low profile design that can replace all of the various evolutions of existing USB connectors including the familiar Type-A connector found on nearly every laptop or PC and the many mini/micro versions including the Micro-A connector found on many smart phones. USB Type-C has also threatened the existence of legacy connectors such as the 3.5mm connection. As consumers continue to demand the latest technology in devices that are sleeker and slimmer in design, many PC and smart phone manufactures are choosing to omit multiple inputs and outputs in favor of an all-in-one solution such as USB Type-C.
Released nearly concurrently, the USB Type-C connector was accompanied by the release of the USB 3.1 standard. USB 3.1 gen 2 doubles the transfer speed of USB 3.0 to achieve 10 Gbps. In addition, to increased data throughput, USB 3.1 supports power delivery of up to 100W, enough to charge a laptop when using USB Type-C connectors.
USB Type-C and USB 3.1 have paved the way for a connector revolution. The user friendly design and increased data transfer rates and power delivery are transforming the way we utilize USB and its introduction is rapidly being adopted by many manufacturers. If you do not already own a device with a USB Type-C connector, you can expect that your next new device will. However, don’t toss all of those “old” USB cables just yet. While the adoption of USB Type-C connectors is a welcomed one, it may be some time before all of your legacy devices are replaced.
Posted by Patrick Cirelli