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USB ports will deliver up to 100 Watts of power

Aug 10, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that it is creating a new specification that will let USB ports deliver up to 100 Watts of power. The development will allow manufacturers to create embedded PCs, laptops, printers, and other devices powered solely via their USB connections, the organization says.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, comprised of Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments, developed the USB 3.0 specification that was released in November 2008. This spec now provides suitably equipped devices with physical-layer throughput speeds of up to 5Gbps (gigabits per second).

Meanwhile, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) released version 1.1 [PDF link] of a USB Battery Charging spec in April 2009, and version 1.2 [PDF link] in December 2010. In recognition of the fact that USB ports are now being used to supply power as often as they are to relay data, the spec allows DCPs (dedicated charging ports) to output more than 1.5A, among other changes.

USB cables could deliver up to 100 Watts of power
Image: USB Geek

While co-existing with the USB Battery Charging 1.2 spec, a new USB Power Delivery solution would go much further, according to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group. The organization says it would enable higher voltage and current, delivering power up to 100 Watts — enough to power PCs, laptops, printers, or monitors in many cases.

Key characteristics of the USB Power Delivery specification will include the following, according to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group:

  • compatibility with existing cables and connectors
  • enabling voltage and current values to be negotiated over the USB power pins
  • switching the source of power delivery without changing cable direction
  • able to work equally well with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

Brad Saunders, chairman of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, stated:

"Building on the rapidly increasing industry momentum for using USB bus power to charge a broad range of mobile devices, the new USB Power Delivery specification extends USB's cable power delivery capabilities beyond simple battery charging. For example, charging the battery of a notebook PC, or simply powering that notebook PC while actively using the USB data connection, would be possible. Conceivably, a notebook PC could rely solely on a USB connection for its source of power."


According to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, the USB Power Delivery spec is targeted for industry review during the final quarter of this year. Early in 2012, a final version will be transitioned to the USB-IF for publication and establishment of an ecosystem/compliance program, the organization adds.

It's said further information regarding the USB Power Delivery spec and plans for a pre-release industry review will be provided at the Intel Developer Forum, scheduled for Sept. 13-15 in San Francisco.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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