Why USB Will Replace Every Power Connector You Own

Illustration for article titled Why USB Will Replace Every Power Connector You Own

Charging via USB is something we all take increasingly for granted; hell, it's become so ubiquitous you can have USB ports alongside your wall outlets. So it bodes well for a future ruled by USB charging that the powers-that-be have decided that the connection should be able to supply a whole 100 watts of power—enough to power a computer.

The new announcement applies to both USB 3.0 and 2.0, and means that new cables should be able to carry enough to power even the brightest of light bulbs. If that makes you shrug and think "whatever", then ponder on this: a 100 W capability would mean that you could power your laptop via USB. Finally, a universal laptop charging solution? And much faster charging generally? Yes, please.


Of course, it won't be as easy as just plugging a high-power USB cable into any old port: only future hardware will support the high-power function. But when it does, it will be able to pull of its own share of party tricks. It'll send power both ways intelligently, ramp delivery up or down, and work with older USB power specs. Fortunately, it'll also include intelligent checks to make sure the devices at each end—and even the cable—are capable of supporting 100W. That means that the cheap-ass USB cables you buy off Amazon probably won't pass the test, which is just as well: with that amount of power coursing down its length, you probably want a slightly safer cable at any rate.

Cables aside, when USB is capable of delivering that kind of power, there's no good reason for devices to use any other connector. Now someone just needs to convince Apple. [USB via SemiAccurate via Engadget]

Image by billaday under Creative Commons license

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The USB is actually really stupidly designed and it's unfortunate but necessary that it has been made backwards compatible over its updates.

Some of the variations of the other end are decent, but nobody has really made a good tactile or easily visible way to see which way you got it.

I dream of one day having a USB connector that can go in either way, much like the AC power connectors we have now (USA).