While the imminent arrival of next-gen USB and Thunderbolt interfaces is no longer fresh news, ComputerWorld brings to attention one potentially revolutionary detail: the next iteration of USB will deliver enough juice to effectively power any device without the aid of unsightly wall-warts.

To do this, USB 3.0's move from 5Gbps to 10Gbps will be accompanied by significant bump (pdf) in power delivery -- 100 watts instead of just 10 watts. With that kind of juice, everything from full-size external hard drives to displays -- and even laptops -- could all fall within the purview of USB's new-found bus power. 

That's an enormous improvement over today's limitations where small devices like external HDDs, cell phones and tablets can push power draw limits.

One example shown at Intel's Developer Forum was of a Lenovo laptop, a LCD monitor and other peripherals all simultaneously being powered by a USB SuperSpeed hub.

To help make certain things are safe and standardized, USB 3.0 is expected to have five different power profiles (pdf):

  • Profile 1: 5V @ 2.0A
  • Profile 2: 5V @ 2.0A or 12v @1.5A
  • Profile 3: 5V @ 2.0A, 12V @ 3A
  • Profile 4: 5V @ 2.0A, 12V or 20V at 3A
  • Profile 5 : 5V @ 2.0A, 12V or 20V at 5A

While convenience is an obvious benefit of increasing the power output for USB, there is one less conspicuous bonus: greener electronics. Billions of power adapters for portable electronics are chucked into the trash each year. USB's pending upgrade stands to reduce that number by a significant margin.