Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Portables Power Hardware

USB 3.0 100W Power Standard Seeks To End Proprietary Chargers 247

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tim-the-toolman-taylor dept.
judgecorp writes "The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a Power Delivery standard which will deliver up to 100W. The specification (press release with link to full details) includes new bi-directional — and backward compatible — USB cables, and has been proposed as the new connector between mains adapters and laptops, eliminating e-waste by standardizing a proprietary component." At home, only having to run one cable to the wall might be nice, and being able to grab some juice from any friend may end the disaster that is forgetting your laptop power brick when on the road. And imagine only having to pack a single power hub instead of three or four redundant transformers (how many people don't use their laptop to charge their phone nowadays?).
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

USB 3.0 100W Power Standard Seeks To End Proprietary Chargers

Comments Filter:
  • Obligatory XKCD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dwedit (232252) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:23AM (#40746795) Homepage
  • Doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

    by gaelfx (1111115) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:37AM (#40746861)

    A question remains: will companies like Apple, who have used proprietary chargers and connectors for years despite the prevalence of the USB standard, adopt the new cable?

    I can't imagine they will, even with their recent EPEAT flip-flop. What I can't figure out is if they are just trying to keep their products distinct or they don't like it when someone else has a really good idea or what. They've already chosen Thunderbolt as their new adapter of choice, and while they'll never use that for the iFamily of products (since so many people won't/can't buy machines with that connectivity), I can't imagine they'll cave to the USB standard now. I do hope I'm wrong though.

    On a side note, does anyone know how many thunderbolt devices are actually available for consumer purchase at this point? Are any of them reasonably priced?

    • On a side note, does anyone know how many thunderbolt devices are actually available for consumer purchase at this point? Are any of them reasonably priced?

      Currently only consumer-like product I was able to find is a Buffalo 1TB hard drive for about $230. The other Thunderbolt stuff is mostly studio gear: big hard drives, RAID enclosures and A/V interfaces.

    • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Informative)

      by teg (97890) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:50AM (#40746929) Homepage

      A question remains: will companies like Apple, who have used proprietary chargers and connectors for years despite the prevalence of the USB standard, adopt the new cable?

      I can't imagine they will, even with their recent EPEAT flip-flop. What I can't figure out is if they are just trying to keep their products distinct or they don't like it when someone else has a really good idea or what. They've already chosen Thunderbolt as their new adapter of choice, and while they'll never use that for the iFamily of products (since so many people won't/can't buy machines with that connectivity), I can't imagine they'll cave to the USB standard now. I do hope I'm wrong though.

      Their current connector [wikipedia.org] does a lot more than USB [pinouts.ru], so probably no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Their current connector does a lot more than USB, so probably no.

        Which shows just how poorly designed it is. Other manufacturers manage to do USB, audio, video, accessories and charging over a standard USB port and headphone socket.

        HTC even extended their USB mini socket to include some extra pins while remaining compatible with normal USB cables.

        • Which shows just how poorly designed it is. Other manufacturers manage to do USB, audio, video, accessories and charging over a standard USB port and headphone socket.

          HTC even extended their USB mini socket to include some extra pins while remaining compatible with normal USB cables.

          You have it backwards. As you pointed out, HTC has had to add non-standard pins to get USB to do what they want. That's true for a number of other manufacturers, including Apple. The USB ports on their Macs for the last several years have all been non-spec USB in order to provide enough power for their mobile devices to charge effectively. Having to change something from the spec in order for it to be useful is an indication there may be a bad design in play. And rather than fix that issue with USB 3.0, the

      • I can understand having R and L line in and out, but why in the world do they need firewire AND USB in the cable?

        • by teg (97890)

          I can understand having R and L line in and out, but why in the world do they need firewire AND USB in the cable?

          They added the connector to allow an iPod to use either USB or Firewire [wikipedia.org] - before this, they used firewire only. If Apple makes a new connector, this would probably be something that is removed.

    • On a side note, does anyone know how many thunderbolt devices are actually available for consumer purchase at this point? Are any of them reasonably priced?

      Just about any monitor with a DisplayPort input is usable with Thunderbolt. They shouldn't need anything approaching the 10.2GBit that the port is supposedly capable of, though.

    • by theNetImp (190602)

      I personally hope apple doesn't change to a USB charger for their laptops. The magnet based cords have prevented a number of accidental laptop floor crashes.

    • I don't own iPhone, but it should comply with EU ruling, that all phones use standard micro-USB charger, or am I missing something?
    • Re:Doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

      by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:46AM (#40747455)
      Apple signed a memorandum of understanding along with other manufacturers with the EU to ensure their phone devices can be charged from a USB charger through micro USB. Did they include a micro USB port in the 4S? Of course not. They produced an £8 dongle for their device which ensures practically nobody would bother with it and stuck with their existing proprietary dock. At least for the time being their devices will charge through USB with a proprietary cable.

      I think even as it stands they run the risk of pissing off the EU so much they'll get sanctioned in some way. If they move even further away from their MoU such as by dumping USB entirely they'll definitely be in trouble. It's also likely that that the EU would be desirous of getting tablets and perhaps even laptops to agree to a common external power supply format so that the problem with phones doesn't happen again somewhere else. I'm sure if they do that Apple will try their best to subvert the process again.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Rumours are though that they're finally getting rid of their proprietary 30 pin connector. Of course, they'r replacing it with a smaller proprietary connector. I'm assuming that they have some sort of adapter, as this does give people a good excuse to extract themselves from the lock-in if they have to replace docks, etc, anyway.

    • Follow the money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bradley13 (1118935) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @08:44AM (#40747857) Homepage

      Follow the money. Selling replacement chargers is an income source. Just look at Dell laptops: they use an industry standard connector with an additional pin inside. The extra pin serves only one purpose: the laptop can tell whether or not the charger is made by Dell. You can buy chargers from other companies, and they will plug into your Dell. The laptop will use the power to run, but will not charge the battery. This behavior serves only one purpose: to guarantee that you buy your replacement from Dell.

      This kind of idiotic mentality is what finally let the EU to require a standard for mobile phones. The government shouldn't have to regulate such things, but sometimes the free market fails. I can imagine this happening here as well...

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>What I can't figure out is if they are just trying to keep their products distinct or they don't like it when someone else has a really good idea or what.

      Apple gives-away their OS and software for almost nothing, so their survival relies upon making money off the hardware. Expensive Macs and proprietary cables == more money in Apple's pocket.

      But the EU has now ruled that phones must all use the same USB standard for charging, so that effectively forces Apple to adopt USB, or else support two di

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      I can't imagine they will, even with their recent EPEAT flip-flop.

      Pretty sure that "flip-flop" was a political power play on both sides (Not sure I side with Apple on that one, but anybody else find it suspicious that City of San Francisco officials found it so urgent to issue a public pronouncement?)

      and while they'll never use that for the iFamily of products (since so many people won't/can't buy machines with that connectivity), I can't imagine they'll cave to the USB standard now. I do hope I'm wrong though.

      Actually, in terms of power, iDevices have been ahead of the game for a while in that the iPod/pad/phone adapters have a standard USB A socket rather than a captive cable. I've been using mine, plus mini- and micro- USB cables as a universal power supply for some time.

      The s

    • What I can't figure out is if they are just trying to keep their products distinct or they don't like it when someone else has a really good idea or what.

      The point of the article is that a likely reason Apple has used proprietary chargers is because of the power situation. Their current iPad chargers are 10W which is more than USB1/2 can deliver. So if you were Apple years and years ago, do you go with USB knowing that limitation or do you go with your own charger that has 30 pins enough for expansion later? If you don't recall, Apple switched all their legacy computer connectors to USB or FireWire. They were the first company to completely abandon those

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      I hope not. The iPod/iPhone/iPad connector does a lot more than USB. The MagSafe adapters for Apple notebooks are MUCH nicer than USB connectors. The first time you trip over the cord and your notebook doesn't go flying, you appreciate them.

    • Unless Im mis-remembering badly, dont 99% of Macs already have USB connectors? Seems like the choice is between "mediocre USB port" and "superior, backwards compatible USB port".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ha, my current laptop runs at 20V @ 11A so looks like I won't be running something like this beast on it.

    Does anyone else think this could be a future attack vector? If use existing terminology, the charger is the host and the laptop is the client, what negotiation takes place before more advanced signalling occurs other than something to negotiate what power is required? Basically, what's to stop an attacker putting some sort of malware on the charger, either something to exploit a driver or an actual exe
    • I think you missed the "up to" before "100W". This is also at 5V, and I have a powered USB hub that puts out 4A (distributed across all 5 ports...) (more than the standard) that I use to charge a bank of Android terminals.

      And I'd bet you are absolutely correct about the handshake being an attack vector. Maybe skip on the cheap Chinese USB 3.0 charging hubs.

    • Could always be, because any implementation might have holes.

      You could be even closer than you think - rememeber that "hacking power strip from DARPA"? It could easily generate wrong power signal that could damage devices - depending on protections they have.

      Power features in Power over Ethernet (802.3af) are negotiated, but it seems that a lot of logics is on the side supplying power, not the receiving one.

      Various companies make overvoltage/overcurrent protection and surge suppression mechanisms that would

    • The power system has it's own communications protocol (modulated on the power lines), having USB connectivity is optional.

      As for attack vendor it really depends on how your laptop manufacturer and/or OS handles the port, it could be just a "dumb" charging port that only implements the charger communication or it could be a full-on USB device port, if it's the latter then the OS vendor will have to think about handling device ports. This is not a new issue though, it's already present with phones that use US

  • by TheInternetGuy (2006682) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:41AM (#40746883)
    That is just silly talk, my implementation will require at least 1.21 gigawatts
  • Great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1s44c (552956) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:45AM (#40746903)

    This would save me from carrying extra junk about and having to find a very specific type of junk when it fails. This is a brilliant idea.

    Everyone seems to be bashing this idea, I've no idea why.

    • Everyone seems to be bashing this idea, I've no idea why.

      It's easier.

    • Is reading the idiot comments above from people who seem to think they are going to put AC power through USB, or that some magical kind of cable is needed to carry a mere 5A, or who don't seem to realise that quite thin laptop cables already have this capacity and have small connectors, or indeed that the cable doesn't need any kind of protocol to identify itself - a simple handshake based on the voltage drop down the cable would do the job. Especially when they describe the proposal as "stupid".

      Of course,

    • by jrumney (197329)

      This would save me from carrying extra junk about and having to find a very specific type of junk when it fails. This is a brilliant idea.

      You'll just have to carry your 20A jumper cables around with you instead.

  • From TFS: how many people don't use their laptop to charge their phone nowadays?).

    Well, anyone who would rather charge their phone quicker directly from the mains, for a start.

    Also, once you're carrying a laptop and transformer around anyway, the extra weight and bulk of a small phone charger is irrelevant
    • It charges at the same speed from a wall wart as it does from a computer.... I usually don't need to charge my phone during the day, and can simply plug it into the wall at night. But if I'm tethering data from the cell phone with my laptop, I'll plug the phone into the laptop and let it draw power from there.

      Other than that, though, my desktop at work has a USB port and I can plug into that directly. I plug into the wall wart at home. And if I'm on a road trip/using the GPS, I'll plug it into the USB port

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flex941 (521675)
        It doesn't charge at the same speed. My wall-adapter is rated 1A (usb standard is 500mW afaik) and the phone really charges about twice the speed when connected to it compared to charging from a computer/laptop.
  • semiaccurate.com [semiaccurate.com] has a lot more information. Not just the USB 3.0 group, but the USB 2.0 group as well has adopted this approved this "power delivery" spec. There are USB 2.0 PD and USB 3.0 PD icons shown in the link. So it looks to me like instead of USB 3.1 and USB 2.1, with or without PD will continue to be an option so they'll probably be known as USB 2.0 PD and USB 3.0 PD.

    Also, USB 3.0 by itself has increased power availability: 900mA instead of the USB 2.0 500mA. This alone obviates the need for

    • Its already a great annoyance to me that I can charge my ASUS Transformer Prime by USB from their own power adapter but not from a PC USB port.

  • Soon you'll be walking down the street only to be approached by an unwashed person waving a USB cord in your face... "hey man... can fix me up with some juice?"

  • My wife connects waaaaay too many devices to a single power point by using multi-way adaptors.
    Now she will be able to daisy chain various phones, laptops, portable speakers etc,.
    Can you blow a USB fuse in this new standard?
  • No doubt this will be deluged with "that's why not" replies, but let me toss it out there: I've long thought we needed USB 4 or whatever to offer charging power at more serious wattage and also 12V. There's this whole existing eco-system of 12V appliances created by the RV/Boat industry. Quite a lot of your average household *could* soon run at more like 12V, because so much power (outside the kitchen) is just for lighting - and lighting is on the brink of going LED as they are solving the color-renderi

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:09PM (#40753003) Journal

    Laptops and other mobile devices can't release a compliant port with this requirement. They don't draw 100W so they certainly can't deliver it. And if they can't deliver it, they can't guarantee that devices that connect to this spec will work with their ports. You'd drain the life out of your battery if they even tried.

    If you aren't requiring devices to be able to put out 100W then you are creating a bad scenario where the same port can have different meanings and you are counting on the person plugging into it to know what they are doing. Counting on consumers knowing what they are doing is a bad idea.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

Working...