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Intel Power Upgrades Hardware

USB Reversable Cable Images Emerge 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the saving-you-3-annoying-seconds-a-couple-times-a-day dept.
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."
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USB Reversable Cable Images Emerge

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Remember when you said that a symmetrical connector with pins on both sides was too expensive?
    Well get stuffed. USB plugs were badly designed from the beginning.

    • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:22PM (#46643311) Homepage

      Manufacturing costs have fallen in the past 18 years.

      • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:37PM (#46643485)

        A D-shaped connector - instead of a square one - would not have cost any more, and would have eliminated a LOT of frustration over the past 18 years.

        • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:50PM (#46643647)

          still doesn't keep me from swearing a lot when trying to plug in an HDMI cable.

          Plug makers should have to test how easy it is to plug something in with out being able to see it. Like trying to snake your arm behind a TV or large desk.

        • USB has a 'D-shaped' connector, standard Type B. People still manage to try and plug that one in wrong as well.

          As it is, Type C should be seen mostly as a replacement to mini/micro A/B which (and also happens to replace regular ol' A), which are already a D shape.. just that they're fairly flattened.

          There was a design for a type A plug that was double-sided, I don't think anybody ever produced a cable/product using it (probably because it would be relatively expensive to produce):
          http://www.yankodesign.com [yankodesign.com]

          • Personally I've never even tried to insert a USB plug the wrong way around.. it's not like it's impossible to see the shapes and remember for any future occurrences.

            My, aren't you special. I've used more than one computer where they're on the back and the wrong way up (most go with the 'trident' logo on top). I have a phone and a tablet that are the same plug but the opposite way up and it's small and recessed too.

            it's not like it's impossible to see the shapes and remember for any future occurrences.

            If

            • My, aren't you special.

              Snark aside - no, no I'm not. Certainly no more special than anybody claiming they always need to try it 3 ways :)

              I've used more than one computer where they're on the back and the wrong way up (most go with the 'trident' logo on top). I have a phone and a tablet that are the same plug but the opposite way up and it's small and recessed too.

              In which case for the first time around, you didn't look (perhaps you couldn't, because, well, back side of the computer and all) and for the sec

          • You've never tried putting a usb cable in wrong? Hard to believe.

            My issue isn't the cable. It is easy to feel the usb logo on the plug to know which way it is. Its the back of the computer that is a pain in the butt.

            • Perhaps I should clarify further, though.. I look first when I'm not familiar with the device. The fact that I have to do that at all (instead of only requiring a slight touch to determine general port orientation in the first place - see sibling comment) is enough reason to applaud a 180Â symmetrical design.

              But I can't say that I identify with the vocal group who appear to find a source of continual frustration in USB plug orientation vs port orientation.

              You've never tried putting a usb cable in wron

              • I look first when I'm not familiar with the device.

                Really? You look at your phone when plugging it in while dark with your night vision? You always spend the time to examine both the connector and the cable before attempting to plug it in? If so you are the ONLY one who does.

                For a cable that is going to see as much insertion and removal as a USB cable you shouldn't have to look. Ever. It should be entirely doable by feel on the first go. I don't love the Apple Lighting connector but this is one thing it did right. It's easy to insert by feel. Much e

        • by Trogre (513942)

          Elements of Firewire and VGA combining to make something not quite as good as either...

          A connector where the orientation does not matter is much better than one where it matters but is slightly more discoverable than before.

        • FireWire is a keyed-connector. That doesn't prevent them from being plugged in backward. As I have done on more than one occasion where the socket was "loose", allowing the keying to not work, allowing the plug to be plugged in backward.

          Which promptly puts up to 45 Watts of power into the data pins.

          Which tends to fry the device.

          Cables that can't be plugged in wrong because there IS NO "wrong" are best - just plug it in. Don't worry about how you're plugging it in, if it seems like it will fit, it's good.

          • by Moskit (32486)

            > Which promptly puts up to 45 Watts of power into the data pins.

            That's why it's called "FIREwire" ;-)

        • The requirement is for a D-shaped handle ie the plastic moulding. There is no need to change the spec of the connecting bit (aside the fact that the design is diabolical). Same applies to HDMI. Look at PS/2 keyboard/mouse connectors - also useless operationally, but at least you know which way is up!
    • by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @06:29PM (#46644015)
      You obviously never had to actually deal with serial and parallel connectors and their little screws to hold them in place.
      USB was a freaking godsend!
      Of, things can certainly get better, but companies hate jumping into new territory and would rather do it one increment at a time, if they can't avoid changing in the first place.
      • Exactly! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The "I wouldn't design it that way" crowd rarely sound experienced or responsible. USB connectors, especially the full-size ones, have remarkably few problems:

        1). The contacts are difficult to damage. Much more difficult than the old D-shell connectors. The D-shell did a pretty good job but if something got inside the D-shell, the pins themselves had almost no strength;
        2). I always thought that a connector with no retainers was a clear negative. However I managed to overlook the power plug! Accidenta

        • My biggest complaint is that the A connector is the perfect width to fit into an ethernet port and short out the the network card. This can become really annoying on laptops that have the usb and ethernet ports right next to each other.
  • Voltage != Power (Score:5, Informative)

    by x0ra (1249540) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:13PM (#46643209)

    I don't want to sneak peak, but "5 volt power transfer rate" makes strictly NO SENSE. The "volt" is not a unit of power...

    Damn incompetent journalists ...

    • by mlts (1038732)

      From the picture, it is even worse: "5V current ranges plus USB PD."

      Realistically, how many amps is thing thing going to allow? 100 watts means that those wires will handle 20 amps, and handle this factoring in voltage drops, especially with the skinny cables and tiny connectors.

      Realistically, I wish the USB-C connector could start at 5 volts but negotiate to 12 volts to offset voltage drop. Higher voltages would help more, but then there will be electrocution issues past 12-24 volts depending on a lot o

    • Re:Voltage != Power (Score:5, Informative)

      by idji (984038) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @06:00PM (#46643747)
      IAAP (I am a physicist).
      There is nothing wrong with "5 volt power transfer". It is just saying that the power (whether 100mA or 100A) is always transferred at 5 volts, and not at 0.5 V or 50V. What is strange here is the "power transfer rate". Power= "energy transfer rate". "Power change rate" would make sense when talking about power ramp up, (i.e. how many milliseconds it needs to go from 100mA to 1A).
      A Type-C cable with100W racing through it sounds like a fire hazard to me.
      • by adolf (21054)

        A Type-C cable with100W racing through it sounds like a fire hazard to me.

        Since you're a physicist, you should be perfectly able to apply everything you just wrote to the notion that the potential is not necessarily 5 volts. There could be more potential than that in later iterations; TFS doesn't say.

        (I, for one, have never been satisfied with the notion that USB @ 5V is all that useful as a means of powering devices.)

      • by Arker (91948)
        I think that 'power transfer rate' in an electrical context could only refer to watts. People commonly associate the word volt with the meaning that actually belongs with watt instead.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        If you read the entire presentation you can see that they are referring to the fact that there is a low power 5V mode and a high power 20V mode. It always starts at 5V and most devices will stay there, but high power stuff can ask to switch to 20V and up to 5A, giving the maximum 100W of power.

  • Doesn't matter... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546)
    One can idiot-proof anything, until along comes a bigger idiot.

    Cars have had keys that can be inserted either-side-up and I've still seen broken and jammed car door locks and ignition cylinders.
    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      There is a saying I used to hang in my cubicle.

      Never underestimate the ingenuity of complete idiots.

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        I feel bad, I should've sourced where I got the saying from. To quote wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiot_proof) which more eloquently describes the origin of the saying I used to post in my cubicle which is a quote of Douglas Adams from Mostly Harmless.

        Along those lines, Douglas Adams wrote in Mostly Harmless, "a common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."

  • 100 watts?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    At 5 volts, 100 Watts is a current of 20 amps. That's a lot of current for such small connections.
    • by x0ra (1249540)
      The remaining 97.5W are just sunk through subspace :-)
    • It's ok, they'll make it 100 watts at 120 volts.

    • To handle 20 amps, you usually use 12 gauge wire. That's more than 2mm across.

      I don't see any way that they will be able to put 20 amps through that tiny connector without melting it.

      • Let go of the past. Breathe in the new world of 60 amp connectors in RC boats, etc..

        http://www.hobbyking.com/hobby... [hobbyking.com]

        60 amps. It's not that tiny, but it's just the size of the wire. Granted, the surface are of a barrel connector is quite high.

  • Obligatory XKCD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ivan Stepaniuk (1569563) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:24PM (#46643339)
  • "The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."

    Why are we comparing a 5volt transfer rate to 100watts in the same sentence? Sooo confused!!

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      "The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."

      Why are we comparing a 5volt transfer rate to 100watts in the same sentence? Sooo confused!!

      What's so confusing? Don't you have a 100W intertube connection at your house? I do. Pretty sweet. Only $50/month too, with unlimited wattage uploads!

      I do pay a little extra for the 50-gallon bit bucket, but they say it helps with Netflix caching.

  • by InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:32PM (#46643439)

    Seriously, why can't we have cables that fit into each other as well as be symmetrical. Oh wait, that's thanks to the patent system [google.com]. At least this is progress and maybe we will have one standard for most types of application (not holding my breath).

    • by Necroman (61604) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:50PM (#46643645)

      The linked patent expired in 2006, so that specific one isn't an issue in this case. Also, round connectors in general are a pain to line up properly and connect.

    • I worry that there appears to be a tab on the new socket that I assume fits into the new cable. I've seen way to many mini USB ports break on phones due to that.
    • Like this?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

    • Seriously, why can't we have cables that fit into each other as well as be symmetrical.

      The one you've linked to isn't symmetrical. My brain's aching a bit just trying to work out if it's even possible with multiple pins and the requirement for good electrical contact. Plus you don't want to increase the complexity of the controllers if you can help.

      If it is possible it might have to be circular, which would be wasteful of space. It might also require an increase in controller complexity. I don't know, it's late.

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      Seriously, why can't we have cables that fit into each other as well as be symmetrical. Oh wait, that's thanks to the patent system [google.com]. At least this is progress and maybe we will have one standard for most types of application (not holding my breath).

      One person replying to you already pointed out that this patent expired in 2006.

      Even more importantly, this was a design patent. It only covers the ornamental design for a device or article of manufacture. If you're reading it to cover something fu

    • Because extender cables are not allowed under the USB spec anyway.

      So making a cable which can be extended easily is counterproductive.

      The reason for this is signal integrity.

  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @05:33PM (#46643443)

    "The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."

    That's a magnificent sentence there!

    I have no idea what a 5 volt power transfer rate is. 5 volts is an electric potential. Power isn't transferred either, power is an instantaneous quantity, whose effect is work (or energy if you prefer). In a DC circuit, power is defined by the product of potential and current, meaning "5V" is meaningless as a description of power, just as "10N" is useless to define a torque.

    Add to that the fact that 100W at 5V implies 20A implies that the 100W will not be available at 5V. 20A require enormous (by computing standards) cables.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      20A require enormous (by computing standards) cables.

      Not really, at least not if we're talking about a short cable that's only meant to be temporarily connected (usually with a user nearby) and not in direct contact with anything highly flammable.

      Building codes require fat wires for 20A, but that's a whole different situation with much longer runs of cable and higher stakes in terms of damage if something goes wrong.

    • It will most likely be similar to POE.
      After negotiation (at 5v), a higher voltage up to 48v is supplied, or at least a voltage that allows the device to remain within SELV (Safety Extra Low Voltage) standards. At 48v, you are looking at around 2Amps, which is what existing USB cables can do.

      One other point. Although micro USB is rated for lots of insertions, the overmould is too big and allows too much leverage on the socket which is breakeing sockets (way worse than breaing the cables plug).
      Apple got this

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by freeze128 (544774)
      Not to mention.... Where is this 100W going to come from? Do you think that the PC makers build PCs with power supplies in them with that much extra capacity just in case someone plus in a USB hair dryer? Well, they don't.
  • I hope this is well past any April 1 silliness.

    If this actually makes it to market, then halle-frickin-lujah. Not a moment too soon so far as I am concerned, to fix a major design flaw in USB connectors.

  • That gives a lowball 15 watts figure at 5 volts, which is pretty nice given I have a few 2.5 watt USB chargers around (and a mains-to-USB adapter that gives only 2.5 watts as well)
    The worst case is a useful metric, it seems to define applications other than your specialty mobile computing device : e-cigs and other little things. The standard would be a nice 6x increase, if USB C is on both ends (and some minimal electronics handle it in the device)

    You'll be able to power a meaningful amplified speaker with

  • So when you plug in a cable, the logo on the top is always correct. When it is a sideways plug, you are on your own. :)

    • Except when the OEM puts the USB slot in upside down. Like the Nexus 7. Or the front USB slots on a lot of desktops.

    • So when you plug in a cable, the logo on the top is always correct.

      This is true unless the receptacle was mounted upside-down. This means the top of the receptacle points toward the bottom of the device. I've owned a couple Dell Dimension PCs whose front USB ports were upside-down, and my Archos 43 Internet Tablet's USB port is upside-down. And you're right that sideways plugs can be a pain, such as the B receptacle on a Seagate hard drive enclosure or both USB receptacles (A host for controllers, micro-B device for debugging) on an OUYA console.

    • by dacut (243842) on Thursday April 03, 2014 @02:05AM (#46646689)

      So when you plug in a cable, the logo on the top is always correct. When it is a sideways plug, you are on your own. :)

      I have a few cables which violate this spec (despite the USB spec being quite clear on this point). I'm not sure if it's a manufacturing error (cable assemblies sent to the molding process upside-down) or the manufacturer just being egotistical ("We want our logo to be visible to the user"). Western Digital, I'm looking at you...

      I really ought to toss them (along with my collection of USB 1.1 cables and hubs).

  • A USB standard without a quantum third state!
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @07:04PM (#46644311) Homepage

    thin little thing inside to break. Complete fail. they just need to do a copy of the fraking lightning connector but made some technology advances to it. Apple does not have a patent on exposed pin connectors.

    Apple got the lightning connector right, just give us a USB3.0 version of the fracking thing and put the craptastic mini/micro/and nano usb plugs to death already.

  • From page 18 of this document: https://intel.activeevents.com... [activeevents.com]

    "The PD communication channel is an RF system:
    - 23.2 MHz DFSK with a nominal deviation of 500kHz"

    So the VBUS/GND pair alone can be enough to transmit data than USB LS (1 Mbps) and USB FS (12 Mbps). I see this a a very interesting solution: a standard to deliver negotiated power and mid range data rate using only 2 wires. If only the USB PD will allow a broadcast topology, I see a lot of possible applications...

    The frequency of the power deliver

    • The frequency of the power delivery is so high that an effective antenna is 3.5m long.

      22MHz is a 14 metre wavelength. Not very high.

      • by jcdr (178250)

        I remember having build and used perfectly working small RF transmission devices with 27 MHz frequency. There never required a 3.5 or 14 meter long antenna !

  • Micro B can die. That connector design sucks that bad. However, I really hope that USB A still sticks around and the new laptops/desktops continue to come with those ports. I've got tons of keyboards, mice, joysticks lying around and I don't want to have to stock tons of A to C adapters to continue to use them with new computers. USB A is also pretty sturdy and can take tons of abuse.

    The USB A connector is also highly ubiquitous. Now we are going to have 2 physically incompatible USB ports present on c

    • The upside is you know you have Power Delivery, USB 3.1 and whatever just by looking at the connector. With a random USB type A, I know fuck all about how many amps it support or not even if it is USB 1 or USB 2. It is a benefit to have both USB C on host and device as well.

  • A USB 3.0 Micro B is 12.2mm x 1.8mm
    That's about 22mm2, this new one is 20mm2, It's thicker at 2.5mm high so arguably less suited to thin devices.

  • Reversable? (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday April 02, 2014 @08:17PM (#46644867)

    But if you plug it in the other way round won't the phone charge the car's battery, and the 1's become 0's on the data?

  • Just as with the lightning connector, they make a big point that the plug is reversible but NO mention of whether the socket can be used either way around!

All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there's still hope.

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