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USB 3.1 Spec Revealed

Beaverton, Ore. — Just when consumers were getting their peripherals up to speed with the USB 3.0 connector, word has come of a new, improved but not-so-backward-compatible USB 3.1 standard.

 The USB 3.0 Promoter Group said this week it has completed the USB Type-C specification for a next-generation USB connector.

The Type-C specification calls for a new cable and connector interface that will be smaller and more user friendly for mobile devices, while delivering more speed and power to laptops and tablets.

Among the highlights is a reversible USB connector that will make it easier to make a connection without having to determine which end is up.

The connector is about the same size as the current MicroUSB Type-B connector but places matching rows of contacts on the top and bottom to facilitate a quick-and-easy connection.

The USB 3.1 Type-C version features up to 10Gbps of speed, which is twice the speed of the existing USB 3.0 system, while offering a somewhat slimmer contact point to help with mobile device designs.

USB 3.1 also supports the USB Power Delivery spec allowing up to 100 watts of power for larger power requirements.

The new connector will not be directly backward compatible with current USB 3.0 or earlier standard ports, although those legacy standards could be made to work with the connector using an adapter/converter.

The Promoter Group said the 3.1 specification has been transferred to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) “for ongoing management and the establishment of a compliance and certification program.”

The specification is available for download from the USB-IF website

Some key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector include:

*a Receptacle opening measuring about 8.4mm by 2.6mm;

*improved EMI- and RFI-mitigation features; and

*power-delivery capacity of 3 amps for standard cables and 5 amps for connectors.

The group said developers interested in implementing the new USB Type-C specification will have the opportunity to learn technical details at upcoming developer conferences currently being planned for Sept. 16-17 in Seattle, Oct. 1-2 in Berlin, and in November in Asia. See the organization’s site for further details.