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.