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Advanced USB power standard is ready for prime time

IDF Beijing Along with Thunderbolt support
Wed Apr 11 2012, 17:56

THE USB 3.0 Promoter Group is in the final stages of completing two USB standards, the group’s chairman Brad Saunders told The INQUIRER during an interview at IDF in Beijing.

The first new USB standard is probably the most interesting for end users as it involves an advanced power specification that is an extension of the existing USB 3.0 standard. This new standard allows for delivery of external device power of up to 100W using a USB cable.

It will enable USB to support a wide variety of new equipment that previously required a separate power supply. This includes, among other things, large RAID arrays for external storage. It will also support charging the batteries of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets via USB from a personal computer.

The second new USB specification defines a chip-to-chip USB based interconnect optimized for mobile device internal use. The specification builds on the MIPI Alliance’s M-PHY high bandwidth specification.

Both USB specifications are presently at revision level 0.9, which means that they are essentially complete and only minor typographical changes are expected. This also means that the specifications can be used as a basis for implementing them in silicon. We should expect to see the first silicon just after the Summer holidays.

These new specifications are ready at the same time as Intel has launched its 7 series chipsets that include support for USB 3.0.

Interestingly enough the 7 series chipsets also include technology to support Thunderbolt - Intel's competing standard - but will still need a relatively expensive companion chip to work. As a result Intel expects only very few mainboard and system manufacturers to include Thunderbolt support. µ


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