Print 49 comment(s) - last by scrapsma54.. on Jul 27 at 1:39 PM

Chargers would be replaced with a ubiquitous USB 3.0 solution, supporting up to 100 watts of draw

Today, other than Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone, smartphones have made the leap from proprietary connectors to a single ubiquitous standard -- micro-USB.  This is a huge relief for phone users, as it means whether you have a Windows Phone or an Android phone, it's easy to find replacement chargers.

But the situation in the world of laptops remains far worse.

Virtually every manufacturer has its own proprietary brand of A/C adaptors, most of which use some kind of post-style plug.  

But the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a new standard [PDF], which proposes using new USB 3.0 power cables as a ubiquitous replacement to proprietary adaptors.  Under the proposal, laptops could draw up to 100 watts off of bi-directional, backwards compatible USB 3.0 cables.  

The USB cable could be plugged into a "mains adaptor" -- an adaptor that converts household alternating current to a useable direct current supply fed into the USB.  Currently, such adaptors are commonly used to charge smartphones.  As the connector to the device -- a USB cable -- is common and the amount of power delivered predictably defined by the USB standard, the choice of current adaptor is inconsequential.

USB 3.0
[Image Source: Cleveland Leader]

This will make replacing power supplies much easier -- if it’s adopted.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is the group responsible for successfully developing and pushing the third-generation USB standard on the world.  Its members include Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ), Intel Corp. (INTC), Texas Instruments, Inc. (TXN), Renesas Electronics Corp. (TYO:6723), and ST-Ericsson -- a joint venture between NXP Semi. NV (NXPI) and STMicroelectronics N.V. (EPA:STM).

Still, even with past successes and a super-star ensemble of industry power players there's cause for skepticism, given the long history of fruitless efforts to move laptops away from proprietary adaptors, as commemorated in the well-known XKCD comic "Standards".  Let's hope this effort bears more fruit that those past failed bids.

Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group [PDF]

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This would be awesome!
By retrospooty on 7/24/2012 1:17:07 PM , Rating: 5
Every laptop using the same charger... Except of course Apple, because they just cant do anything in a standard compatible way that helps consumers.

It's really irritating about their new smaller connecter for iPhone's. I could understand the use of the old one and not wanting to change due to the multitude of existing devices, but now that they did change it, why the f%^k not go with micro USB? ugh...

RE: This would be awesome!
By KPOM1 on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By retrospooty on 7/24/2012 2:15:59 PM , Rating: 5
"Let's see what Apple has in store for their new iPhone port before we criticize them for not going with Micro-USB."

Its not micro USB like every other ophone on Earth, therefore it draws criticism. USB 3 is irrelevant on a smartphone, we want standardized chargers and peripherals.

RE: This would be awesome!
By Solandri on 7/25/2012 3:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
It's actually EU law that all phones be chargeable with a microUSB connector. They passed the law after the phone manufacturers failed to come up with a universal charger standard on their own, and continued to rake in money selling new chargers with every phone.

Thus far, Apple is the only phone manufacturer which hasn't complied. They will give their customers a dongle which lets them plug a microUSB charger into their iPhone if they ask.

Apple's reason for it is that their connector has all sorts of other capabilities, like digital video out. But the easy solution to that is to make two connectors - one microUSB for charging, another proprietary one for all the fancy stuff Apple wants on the iPhone. So the real reason Apple isn't complying is that they don't want to put two connector ports on the iPhone.

RE: This would be awesome!
By Lerianis on 7/24/2012 7:02:58 PM , Rating: 3
Huh? What are you talking about? I have some Micro-USB hard drives and they work with USB 3.0 ports.

RE: This would be awesome!
By mathew7 on 7/26/2012 3:46:47 AM , Rating: 2
The only limitation is for USB3 cable on a USB2 device (not host). And this is due to the bigger (or should I say additional) USB3 connector. Once they are connected, there is nothing from stopping it work.

RE: This would be awesome!
By TakinYourPoints on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By tdktank59 on 7/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: This would be awesome!
By Camikazi on 7/24/2012 6:52:49 PM , Rating: 3
Wee, 2 6 year old laptops running right now with perfect charging ports, man you must be clumsy.

RE: This would be awesome!
By TakinYourPoints on 7/24/2012 10:18:24 PM , Rating: 1
It is one of many solid decisions they made with the MBPs. Why are other laptop power connectors such trash?

RE: This would be awesome!
By Solandri on 7/25/2012 2:53:16 AM , Rating: 3
Because Apple got a patent on it which should be invalidated. Magnetic power cords were used in the 1990s on deep fryers, to prevent people from spilling hot oil over themselves if they tripped on the cord.

This far predates Apple's 2007 magsafe patent. But somehow the USPTO figured taking an existing idea and adding the words "on a laptop" to it was worthy of a patent.

Nobody is challenging Apple's patent because it's just not worth the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for a multi-year patent fight. The non-magnetic designs are marginally weaker, but not really problematic. I've had a couple cords fray because of the 90 degree bend of some designs, and had one laptop where the entire power circuit board cracked from repeatedly bending small amounts. (Fatigue failure - not sure a magnetic connection would've helped there. Ideally you want to design the solder joints to fail first, since that can be fixed by replacing a 50 cent part.)

I've tripped on power cords multiple times. Most of the time they pull out. Sometimes they send the laptop flying off the table. Did that a half dozen times with my old Thinkpad - probably an indication the connection was overdesigned and held the power cord too tightly. Fortunately, the Thinkpad was tough enough that it worked fine after each fall (including one forceful enough to dislodge the ejectable CD drive and PCMCIA card). I've never actually broken the power connector on any laptop I've owned.

RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/24/12, Rating: 0
RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: This would be awesome!
By Stevethewalrus on 7/25/2012 1:25:50 AM , Rating: 2
Thunderbird? And yes its a proprietary USB implantation. If you meant Thunderbolt then your an ... absolutely no benefit having it be thunderbolt, all it would do would raise costs.

RE: This would be awesome!
By Belard on 7/25/2012 5:54:39 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I mean thunderbolt. (DOH!)

While the apple connector includes USB, its not an illegal device and its very much an Apple standard, its not rare.

Go to walmart or any general phone store and count up all the accessories for iOS products and compare them to the others. Guess what, apple has a standard that allowed accessories that cannot be said for anyone else. Samsung moves its USB connector depending on the phone.

And again, plugging in an apple connector smokes USB in terms of ease.

Apple helped develop Thunderbolt. The price for the new Thunderbolt macs didn't go up, neither did the monitors. Thunderbolt for PCs is quite expensive.

Now, I didn't say the new port on iPhone5 (and future iOS products) is thunderbolt. I said/meant it would have thuerbolt included. But it should include USB3.0 as well, or at least have USB3 if there is not Thunderbolt. USB3.0 would be easier to work with. We'll know in a few months.

But I'm betting TB & USB3.

RE: This would be awesome!
By lukarak on 7/25/2012 3:59:55 PM , Rating: 2
Apple actually made a great laptop charger. It's standard across their devices, and it has a great feature nobody else has. Not to mention that the powerbricks themselves are very adaptable, can hang from a wall socket, or be a standard middle of the cord.

And suddenly, Apple is the problem and doesn't benefit the consumers?

You guys are really disturbed.

RE: This would be awesome!
By scrapsma54 on 7/27/2012 1:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
Now all else is needed is a type of jack that resists breaking like a standard DC jack.

By StevoLincolnite on 7/24/2012 11:48:30 AM , Rating: 5
Please do!

Universal adapters are far from cheap. - But they also need to be able to charge the notebook from any USB plug on the notebook (And not just provide a dedicated USB port for power.) as the actual sockets aren't immune from breaking either.

RE: .
By MadMan007 on 7/24/2012 11:52:51 AM , Rating: 3
True, USB ports aren't immune to breaking, but in my experience the physical connectors are pretty good and they would be vastly better than the post-style connectors most laptops use.

Simple reason this won't be adapted though: OEMs love to sell their replacement overpriced laptop power bricks :(

RE: .
By DanNeely on 7/24/2012 1:03:19 PM , Rating: 3
Do you have any cites for USB being more durable than post style connectors? It would surprise me; most posts I've seen have lower insertion/removal resistance than a USB plug (in addition to being naturally immune to various types of rotational stress). As a result I'd expect that if you knocked a laptop off a table/etc and it was briefly suspended by the power cord the post connector would be more likely to pop free without breaking anything internally than the USB cable would.

RE: .
By SunLord on 7/24/2012 1:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
Post style plus are far more durable then USB ports. Micro-usb (10,000 cycles of insertion and removal) for instance reverse the mounting interface compared to normal usb (1,000 cycles of insertion and removal) by making it so the cheap cable wears out before the port

RE: .
By inperfectdarkness on 7/25/2012 2:05:44 AM , Rating: 2
So what do you do for voltage selection? Do you need a bunch of dials/sliders to select appropriate charge? Does it detect automatically--and if so, what happens if it incorrectly determines the voltage? Who is responsible then?

As much as I would love to have a "universal" charger for every electronic device I have, in order to make such a charger truly useful, all devices would have to adopt the same charging parameters. I just don't see that happening.

RE: .
By theapparition on 7/25/2012 12:14:06 PM , Rating: 2
Almost all laptops charge using very similar voltages. The biggest issue is the actual connectors being different.

However, if there was a universal charging standard, you can bet there would also be a input voltage associated with it as well.

For example, current USB standards use 5V on the connector. Is there any issue with any other devices not using 5V? Any compatibility problems? If it has the USB logo, then it is certified to work. You're worrying about something that would already be taken care of.

not a perfect solution
By Techywarrior on 7/24/2012 1:23:57 PM , Rating: 2
While I applaud the idea of having standard connectors to charge/power devices I don't think USB is the solution for laptops.

The USB connector is larger then most of the power connectors on modern laptops. Why would we want to take up more precious space on laptops as we strive to make them thinner and lighter? I have a new Samsung Series 9 900C and the post connector is tiny. The USB connector would be easily 5 times the size (width wise) of the post connector.

Now, I'm not saying post connectors are the perfect solution either, but if we standardize on a large connector then we lose all inovation on the connector interface for new laptops while compromising on a very old design (although USB3 is new USB is old and the size of the connector hasn't changed since the original spec)

Look at what Apple did with the Magesafe connector. I wish Apple would license that because I like the idea of the connector detaching when tugged too hard. This would never have been created if we had a standard connector.

From what I understand from reading the PDF the cables would have to be certified to carry the increased current and you would still have a separate port on the laptop to plug into. This can also lead to confusion by less computer savy people if they try and plug their power into an existing USB port. They aren't designed to carry 100 watts on them.

I would propose that maybe a new standard is designed for current laptops in perhaps a normal and micro size. This would allow cheaper, larger laptops to use the standard size which presumably would be cheaper and then ultrabooks and perhaps future thin/light laptops would use the micro size. The connector ideally would have some sort of auto detach like Magsafe without infringing the copyright (but that requirement is more a wish)

RE: not a perfect solution
By SlyNine on 7/24/2012 3:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
Since when is the general idea of attaching things with magnets patentable. This is why I hate apple.

RE: not a perfect solution
By The Raven on 7/24/2012 6:30:10 PM , Rating: 2

Yeah magsafe is nice.
There have been other solutions where the cable pops apart (the old Xbox controller cables were like that). They could just use that. But then again, maybe MS patented that? lol

We no longer have options to use common sense solutions?

RE: not a perfect solution
By DanNeely on 7/24/2012 11:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just that. Attaching the power cord with magnets has been common among commercial deep friers for decades because you need to minimize the risk of spilling gallons of hot oil in every way possible.

RE: not a perfect solution
By quiksilvr on 7/25/2012 10:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
I highly doubt they'll ever make a laptop thinner than a USB port. I don't care how thin or light it is. If it doesn't have room for a standard USB port, that laptop is useless.

RE: not a perfect solution
By quiksilvr on 7/25/2012 10:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
Also, if a laptop is so light and low powered, I'm pretty sure they can make a mirco-USB port that gives similar power.

thank god
By Bubbacub on 7/24/2012 11:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
death to external chargers!

sick of paying loads for light equipment - and then have to ferry around heavy power bricks.

i can cope with carrying a usb PD spec cable

RE: thank god
By Manch on 7/24/2012 12:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
youd still need the brick, unless they can find a way to cram that in the laptop...

RE: thank god
By Qapa on 7/24/2012 4:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that is until (if we get there) it gets so universal that you that to have USB plugs near other power plugs, and all you need is the USB cable! :)

(may be wishful thinking... but I wish for it anyway)

RE: thank god
By Odysseus145 on 7/25/2012 1:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
Wall sockets with built-in USB have been out for a while. For example:

The only issue is whether or not they are compliant with your local building codes.

USB3 for 100 watts?
By cooldadd on 7/25/2012 1:10:49 AM , Rating: 2
Pardon me if I'm skeptical of a backward-compatible charging system allowing 100 watts of power over USB. USB provides a 5-volt interface. To provide 100 watts of power over a 5 volt interface, the plug and cable would need to carry 20 amperes.

I'm not a hardware engineer, but I'm guessing that it would take a radically different USB connecter than the current implementations to handle a 20-amp load, and even if the interface design were able to identify and connect to a standard 1-amp USB 1.1/2/3 cable being plugged in for charging (a laptop, for instance), the user would be disappointed in the 20x reduction in charging speed...

One big reason that most laptops use proprietary (non-USB) input power systems is that the higher the voltage, the less current is needed to supply a given wattage; a 15-volt supply to provide 100 watts would only have to carry 1.5 amps. The cable necessary to provide a 100-watt input at the USB voltage level of 5 volts would not be easy to coil up around your hand and stick into your laptop bag! Think of more like an appliance extension cord...

RE: USB3 for 100 watts?
By Odysseus145 on 7/25/2012 1:29:58 PM , Rating: 2
According to the published specs, the standard uses several different power profiles depending on the needs of the peripheral device. To deliver 100W, it would provide 5 A at 20 V. It can also run at 12 V and obviously 5 V.

My biggest fear...
By iNNeRKaoS on 7/25/2012 3:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
... is that my mom would get a computer with a USB charging cable, and plug it into the wrong port.

I didn't read the entire PDF (at work), so maybe they changed the end enough to make it not connectable to the other ports, or have it so that any port can charge the battery.

By Silver2k7 on 7/26/2012 9:10:21 AM , Rating: 2
Couldn't they fix the USB standard first.. if there was some symmetry in the design then it would be impossible to trying to plugin the cable upside down... what I meant to say is that if the USB connector was properly designed there would be no upside down.. but just to plug it in ^^

By Nortel on 7/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: thunderbolt
By MadMan007 on 7/24/2012 11:51:03 AM , Rating: 5
Chargers would be replaced with a ubiquitous USB 3.0 solution, supporting up to 100 watts of draw

RE: thunderbolt
By MadMan007 on 7/24/2012 4:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
I feel like I should have bolded the 100 watts of draw part but it looks like people got it.

RE: thunderbolt
By StevoLincolnite on 7/24/2012 11:55:11 AM , Rating: 2
There are a few things I don't like about Thunderport currently.
Firstly, it's hard to find devices or computers with the Port.

Secondly, a majority of devices ranging from Cameras, Video Cameras, External Hard Drives, USB flash drives, Microphones, USB sound cards, Headphones, Printers, Scanners, Speakers, Keyboards, Mice, Webcams, Phones, Modems and other Networking devices made in the last couple of decades will work in any USB port or if the manufacturer allows... Be charged.
It's going to be a long process to phase them all out in favor of Thunderport and by then we may have USB 4 on the horizon, who knows.
But the backwards compatibility argument that USB 3 provides is simply massive.

RE: thunderbolt
By Bubbacub on 7/24/2012 11:55:57 AM , Rating: 2
thunderbolt is a way of sending information accross a cable.

usb is a defined standard with regard to data transfer and the size and shape of the connector and cable.

in thunderbolt the cable can be any thing - displayport connectors have been used so far but there is no reason why a different connector couldnt be used.

they could theoretically make a thunderbolt connection through a usb 3.0 port and have the best of both worlds.

RE: thunderbolt
By Bubbacub on 7/24/2012 11:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
looked into this further - intel first demoed a non optical light peak over a usb cable(1).

the usb forum people then banned it.



RE: thunderbolt
By TakinYourPoints on 7/24/2012 3:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, the USB consortium is pretty strict about how USB is used, it is a big reason why the mini-DisplayPort connector is being used for Thunderbolt instead. In the end it is ok given that it is becoming a common video connector, its use is royalty free, and the physical connector is smaller.

RE: thunderbolt
By Black1969ta on 7/24/2012 2:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Thunderbolt/Lightpeak is a transport mechanism for other transmission protocols, like USB, PCIe SATA.

It will be a method of eliminating the motherboard. Think remote video cards, no need for internal storage, other than a little solid state memory.

Eventually I can picture copper internet replaced with optical to the home without the need for conversion from optical even in the home.

RE: thunderbolt
By Copaseticbob on 7/24/2012 12:00:43 PM , Rating: 5
I see Thunderbolt going the way of Firewire. But that's just my 2 cents.

RE: thunderbolt
By XZerg on 7/24/2012 1:48:52 PM , Rating: 3
Not necessarily. TB has some very nice potentials - compact internal innards of devices like say laptop to allow consumers to add-in external performance accelerator devices.

Imagine having a light-weight laptop with cpu with integrated gpu to which you can connect on demand an external video card. Otherwise you would have to lug around a heavy weight and bulky laptop everywhere as most decent gpus require considerable amount of power and cooling. This also applies to tablets too.

The other idea would be a docking station that supports enough bandwidth with little latency to run displays, usbs, sata, network, ...

So in essence TB could be the key to externalize performance devices which are not always required and can be attached to gain the performance near to the devices connected directly.

RE: thunderbolt
By Helbore on 7/24/2012 2:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with this. Thunderbolt has the potential to bring about the device convergence that Microsoft seem to be pushing for with Windows 8.

Think about it; a tablet that can dock using Thunderbolt could become either a laptop of a full desktop. The cost-savings alone of only having one device would make this appealing and the flexibility of being able to dock your device into any compatible docking station - anywhere in the world - opens up a lot of new possibilities for mobility.

RE: thunderbolt
By Lerianis on 7/24/2012 7:06:13 PM , Rating: 2
Eh.... unless the device seamlessly matched with the thing AND the stuff in the dock included an upgradeable video card and ports, I wouldn't go with it.

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