USB Power Delivery spec capable of 100W, could make chargers obsolete

By Lee Kaelin on July 24, 2012, 9:30 AM

The USB Promoter Group has announced new USB Power Delivery specifications (PDF) for the USB connectivity interface, which will enable USB ports to provide up to 100W of power and eliminate the need for proprietary power adapters to charge laptops and other connected electronics devices.

In its 300-plus page specification document (14.5MB ZIP), the group offers extensive details about the design and implementation of the new standards, which will be backward compatible with the USB 2.0 standard.

“USB Power Delivery enables a path to greatly reduce electronic waste by eliminating proprietary, platform-specific chargers,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “We envision a significant move toward universal charging based on this specification, most notably for charging notebook PCs using standardized USB power bricks or when connected to USB hubs and desktop displays that integrate USB Power Delivery capabilities.”

While existing USB cables are capable of charging devices like cameras and phones, as well as powering external hard disks, the new standard aims further at “a one cable to rule them all” flexible power management ecosystem, whereby all of your electronics devices can be powered by a single USB lead.

The move could potentially make existing notebook charging solutions obsolete, and even power displays solely via a computer's USB port. Furthermore people could use a single “powered” cable connected to a USB hub to charge multiple devices at the same time.

In order to ensure cables aren’t overloaded, the group has defined five different profiles with differing levels of current, which work using “USB Power Delivery Certified cables” as well as traditional USB cables, although the latter won’t be capable of delivering the higher levels of current.

The five profiles are:

• Profile 1 capable of supplying 5V @ 2.0A
• Profile 2 is capable of supplying 5V @ 2.0A or 12v @1.5A
• Profile 3 is capable of supplying 5V @ 2.0A, 12V @ 3A
• Profile 4 is capable of supplying 5V @ 2.0A, 12V and 20V at 3A
• Profile 5 is capable of supplying 5V @ 2.0A, 12V and 20V at 5A

Robert Hollingsworth, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the USB Products Group at SMSC believes USB Power Delivery is the next big evolution to provide high-bandwidth data and intelligent power over a single USB lead. “USB has always combined data and power over a single cable, and this is widely believed to be a major contributor to the present ubiquity of USB. USB Power Delivery builds on that success and adds full bi-directional power that can be renegotiated as system power needs change with the end-user,” he said.




User Comments: 20

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Lurker101 said:

On one hand, this is great news. There's too many items, such as external hard drives, that need external power to add to the great cluster of wires and plugs that most PC users are familiar with, and the idea of "one cable to rule them all" is appealing.

On the other hand, I can't see this replacing laptop power cables. After all, you plug this "one to rule them all" usb cable into you laptop and... where is the other end meant to go?

Guest said:

Into a power socket obviously. I don't think you read/understood the article.

Guest said:

Plug your laptop's charger into this port for INFINITE POWWERRRRR

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

On one hand, this is great news. There's too many items, such as external hard drives, that need external power to add to the great cluster of wires and plugs that most PC users are familiar with, and the idea of "one cable to rule them all" is appealing.

On the other hand, I can't see this replacing laptop power cables. After all, you plug this "one to rule them all" usb cable into you laptop and... where is the other end meant to go?

I would guess it goes into your computer which is drawing power from the wall. Although I've never really used it, my ASUS mobo has this AI charger feature which supposedly lets it draw power to charge things while my computer is asleep.

But I'm all for it. Being in Europe right now all my gear has US plugs so I have to get a ton of adapters, and the person who designed my apartment seemed to favor a very minimalistic approach when it came to wall plugs, so there are like 4 of them in the whole place, and probably 30 things that need to get plugged in.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I like my cell phones that now use a standard USB charger cable. I'd love to have any laptop use a standard power cable too. That way friends can leave their bulky power bricks at home neatly dressed at their desks and can charge off any of my USB ports.

The one heartache is that this cable is no where near as cool as Apple's MagSafe power cable.

ikesmasher said:

thats awesome, it also allows for some awesome DIY stuff.

Tygerstrike said:

@gwailo

I dont know if you have tried this. Go Solar!! Maybe get a friend to hit a RadioShack or something and grab a solar charger. Its a tad pricey on the front end but you really do get free power. I live in the desert so its sunny most days. Try the I go brand. They have different tips so you only need the single solar charger. It has helped me in any number of situations where I have lacked a power plug. It wont power your TV, but it will keep pretty much any moble device fully charged.

A buddy of mine even whipped up a solar charger/inverter that can power his laptop with what he got from RS.

Lurker101 said:

I live in Britain. Getting a solar charger makes as much sense as a canoe made of compressed sugar.

Guest said:

"We envision a significant move toward universal charging based on this specification, most notably for charging notebook PCs using standardized USB power bricks or when connected to USB hubs and desktop displays that integrate USB Power Delivery capabilities."

Is anyone else worried about the drain this would put on a desktop's power supply? I can see some higher end rigs with dual or quad gpus and multiple displays needing well upwards or 2000w to power everything if you should choose to use the USB Power Delivery capabilities of your monitors.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I can see some higher end rigs with dual or quad gpus and multiple displays needing well upwards or 2000w to power everything if you should choose to use the USB Power Delivery capabilities of your monitors.
I'm not sure I understand your concern. A single USB port capable of delivering 100W's of power can power six monitors such as the one I am using (Acer S201HL has 14W power draw).

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

Solar Power Thats COOL...

Lionvibez said:

I live in Britain. Getting a solar charger makes as much sense as a canoe made of compressed sugar.

LMAO

1 person liked this | Lionvibez said:

I can see some higher end rigs with dual or quad gpus and multiple displays needing well upwards or 2000w to power everything if you should choose to use the USB Power Delivery capabilities of your monitors.
I'm not sure I understand your concern. A single USB port capable of delivering 100W's of power can power six monitors such as the one I am using (Acer S201HL has 14W power draw).

That would power one 24 inch IPS panel.

My HP monitor uses like 85watts max load.

The Acer S201HL is a low end monitor with a TN display and a totally believable 12,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio..... right!

Not saying your statement isn't right its just obviously he was talking about high end machines.

Guest said:

To all those saying that you will need to charge from your computer, that is incorrect. There are already usb charging hubs that plug directly into wall sockets. Most cell phones now a days come with usb charging adapters that plug right into the wall. I'm sure new usb charging hubs capable of supply large amounts of power will be available when this new standard is released. Then instead of tons of adapters coming out of a power strip, you can have small usb cords, or even attached male usb ends coming out of small usb charging hubs.

slamscaper slamscaper said:

On the other hand, I can't see this replacing laptop power cables. After all, you plug this "one to rule them all" usb cable into you laptop and... where is the other end meant to go?

You'll plug it into a wall outlet via a common 5v USB to 120v NEMA 5-15 outlet adapter. These adapters are already used heavily with digital cameras and cell phones.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I can see some higher end rigs with dual or quad gpus and multiple displays needing well upwards or 2000w to power everything if you should choose to use the USB Power Delivery capabilities of your monitors.
I'm not sure I understand your concern. A single USB port capable of delivering 100W's of power can power six monitors such as the one I am using (Acer S201HL has 14W power draw).

I think the guest was driving at this new standard replacing USB on mobo I/O and internal headers. Simply isn't going to happen. You might have one dedicated high power USB, but that would be about it. Having multiple USB ports capable of 60w+ means that some bright spark will inevitably try to use all simultaneously...and the mobo design would need to accomodate the wattage (along with 200+ for the CPU socket, 75 for each PCI-E x16, ancillary wattage for other I/O and memory) = more power traces = more PCB layers, and certainly more PSU connection to the mobo.

Plugging into a wall socket with pass-thru -daisy chaining-devices (I.e. single power connection) would seem to be the gist of tech - a response to power+signal Thunderbolt/Light Peak.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

So now what would happen if you crossed the pins? Computer explodes! lol sorry if you have a broken USB port!!!

/joking

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Plug your laptop's charger into this port for INFINITE POWWERRRRR

That made me laugh.

To all those saying that you will need to charge from your computer, that is incorrect. There are already usb charging hubs that plug directly into wall sockets. Most cell phones now a days come with usb charging adapters that plug right into the wall. I'm sure new usb charging hubs capable of supply large amounts of power will be available when this new standard is released. Then instead of tons of adapters coming out of a power strip, you can have small usb cords, or even attached male usb ends coming out of small usb charging hubs.

I actually saw a wall outlet for sale a couple days ago that had a USB plug built in next to both of the regular 110-120V plugs.

I think the guest was driving at this new standard replacing USB on mobo I/O and internal headers. Simply isn't going to happen. You might have one dedicated high power USB, but that would be about it. Having multiple USB ports capable of 60w+ means that some bright spark will inevitably try to use all simultaneously...and the mobo design would need to accomodate the wattage (along with 200+ for the CPU socket, 75 for each PCI-E x16, ancillary wattage for other I/O and memory) = more power traces = more PCB layers, and certainly more PSU connection to the mobo.

Plugging into a wall socket with pass-thru -daisy chaining-devices (I.e. single power connection) would seem to be the gist of tech - a response to power+signal Thunderbolt/Light Peak.

For desktops, I could see PSU makers simply having a plate with the high power USB on it (then either wire connections to a USB header on the mobo or just have it as a PCIe card). That way none of the high power USB actually goes through the motherboard.

Guest said:

This USB chager is going to replace the propietary chargers, obviously it would need to be plug it, but the other side will be universal to connect any device

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This USB charger is going to replace the proprietary chargers
One could only hope this will be true. Judging by the use of USB ports for charging, this idea has a good chance of becoming true.

it would need to be plug it, but the other side will be universal to connect any device
The port would be universal not the cables. The cables could still be proprietary for the devices they are intended to be used with. Just look at all the cell phones with different USB data cables that are also used for charging them. It would be nice if they also included universal cables but that wasn't discussed. A standardized USB cable is a good thing but that doesn't mean manufacturers will need to abide by the standards.

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