Technology with support inter-peripheral interaction and display-over-USB

VGA, DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI -- those are among the video output cable types supported by Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) recent builds of Windows.  But Windows 10 is expect to add another, far more flexible standard to that list -- USB.

The latest additions to the Universal Serial Bus protocol have dramatically expanded the role of this robust I/O protocol.  The USB 3.1 protocol is in many ways a watershed moment in advancing the standard towards ubiquity.  It adds an envious set of feature improvements including:
  • Inter-peripheral communication
    • Imagine your phone is plugged into your computer via microUSB.  Now it can access a USB-connected hard drive on another port to directly transfer files back and forth.  Or it could access a keyboard plugged into another USB port... or a mouse... the possibilities are exciting.
  • High speed
    • USB 3.1 supports data transfer rates of up to 1.25 GBytes/sec (10 GBit/sec).  That's only a little more than half the throughput of HMDI 2.0 (which supports a theoretical max throughput of 2.25 GBytes/sec (18 Gbit/sec) per channel -- but it's more than enough to support a 2K external display.
  • High power devices -- up to 100 Watts
    • Now it can not only talk to a 2K external display, it can power it, with no extra power cords.
  • Type-C reversible connectors
  • DisplayPort 1.3 support
    • DisplayPort in a universal cable -- 'nuff said.
Windows 10 and USB 3.1

While it's not terribly surprising, it is exciting to see that Windows 10 will bring support for the feature-rich USB 3.1 protocol.  The addition was all but confirmed by a seminar description at Microsoft's WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Community) Conference.  Entitled "Enabling New USB Connectivity Scenarios in Windows 10", the March 18 session for hardware partners carries the description:

Windows 10 introduces support for USB Dual Role and Type-C, which will enable new wired connectivity scenarios such a phone interacting with USB peripherals, or laptops connecting to an external display using the USB Type-C connector. This session will go into detail on how Windows supports these technologies and what you need to do to enable them. Topics include: Overview of the new use cases introduced with USB Dual Role and Type-C, What scenarios are and aren’t supported for Dual Role devices, Using Alternate Modes (e.g. DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, or MHL) over Type-C, Support for Power Delivery, enabling devices to provide/consume up to 100W over USB, Hardware and software architecture changes for Dual Role and Type-C, and Building a Windows system with Dual Role and/or Type-C support. Intended Audience: OEMs, ODMs, IDHs, IHVs, Peripheral Manufacturers, Driver Developers.

WinHEC runs March 18-19 in Shenzhen, China.


Apple holds certain patents relating to type-C USB connectors, but that shouldn't be a concern for Windows 10 hardware partners, given Microsoft's cross-licensing pact with the Cupertino-company.

(h/t to Neowin for highlighting this session.)

Source: WinHEC [Microsoft event page]

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