The group of companies promoting the USB 3.0 standard announced a new generation USB connector is in the works with a target of finalization set for mid-2014. Called USB Type-C, this new type of connector should allow manufacturers to create thinner designs, will improve usability, and will be scalable for future performance enhancements.
For users, the most visible benefit will be the ability to plug in the connector in any orientation, similarly to Apple’s Lightning connectors. In other words, we will finally put behind us the frustration of trying to insert the plug the wrong way.
According to Intel, one of the companies supporting the Type-C plug, “this new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”
The USB Type-C connector will be comparable in size with the current USB 2.0 micro-B plug (pictured above), which is widely used on Android devices. In addition to being compact and reversible, the plug will be able to scale in performance, as future USB standards are implemented.
However, the changes will break compatibility with older types of connectors, for which adapters and new types of cables will be needed.
The upcoming Type-C connector is an extension of the USB 3.1 standard, which supports transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s and power profiles for scalable charging, allowing devices with different power demands to charge through the same type of cable. USB 3.1 was announced in July 2013, and first products supporting it may come in late 2014.
Next Generation USB Connection Definition Underway
USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces development of USB Type-C Specification
Beaverton, OR – December 3, 2013 – The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced that
the development of the next generation of USB connector has begun. The new USB Type-C
connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, is being developed
to help enable thinner and sleeker product designs, enhance usability and provide a growth
path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. This supplement to the USB
3.1 specification is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year.
Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:
An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug
orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance
As the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB plugs
and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.), the Type-C specification will define passive
new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products.
“While USB technology is well established as the favored choice for connecting and powering
devices, we recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends
in terms of size and usability,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman.
“The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an
opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”
“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,” said Alex Peleg, 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.”
“The new Type-C connector furthers USB’s lead in addressing customer desire for more
flexibility and higher performance,” said Roland Sperlich, TI Consumer and Computing
Interface Product Line Manager. “This allows USB to increase performance and continue to
deliver ease of use to several evolving product categories for years to come.”
The USB Type-C specification is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014
and a final specification is expected to be published by the middle of 2014. Further
information regarding the specification and plans for pre-release industry reviews will be