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USB 3.1 - more speed, more power and new connectors

Colin Walls

Colin Walls

Posted Apr 14, 2014
1 Comment

I recently presented a session at EE Live! on USB 3.0, which proved quite popular. There were a number of questions and discussion about what is wrong with USB [mainly the connectors] and where it is going in the future. Of course, the question of USB 3.1 came up …

My class included very little information on USB 3.1 because the standard is not yet finalized. It is slated for late 2014 and there is enough industry/user pressure for me to believe that this schedule will work. However, in this more informal context, I am happy to chat [and speculate] about USB 3.1

Broadly speaking, there are 3 areas of enhancement over USB 3.0:

  • Speed – USB 3.0 provided SuperSpeed, which offers a signaling rate of 5 Gbps, which was 10X USB 2.0’s best. USB 3.1 will double that to 10 Gbps, but will also include more efficient line encoding, which lowers the overhead and allows actual data transfers to occur at an improved rate. The new speed seems to be called SuperSpeed+. This brings USB into the same domain as Apple’s Thunderbolt.
  • Power – USB 3.0 more or less doubled the amount of power that a device could potentially drain from the bus to 900 mA at 5 V. USB 3.1 adds more options: 2 A at 5 V; 5 A at 12 V; 5 A at 20 V. This capacity makes USB [even more] viable as a universal power source or charger for electronic devices.
  • Connectors – At last! Although details are sketchy, the plan is for USB 3.1 connectors to be available in a very slim form which is also reversible – just like the Apple Lightning connector.

I actually find the last of these most exciting. USB connectors are like buttered toast. It always lands butter side down. A USB plug presented to a USB socket is always upside down. There are, of course, those who would say that the new connectors are how USB should have been in the first place …

USB, USB 3.0, USB 3.1

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About Colin Walls Follow on Twitter

Colin WallsI have over thirty years experience in the electronics industry, largely dedicated to embedded software. A frequent presenter at conferences and seminars and author of numerous technical articles and two books on embedded software, I am a member of the marketing team of the Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division, and am based in the UK. Away from work, I have a wide range of interests including photography and trying to point my two daughters in the right direction in life. Learn more about Colin, including his go-to karaoke song and the best parts of being British: Visit The Colin Walls Blog

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Comments 1

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Whose thunderbolt? The problem I have with the sketches we have of the type C connector is the same problem I have with the micro-B's. That damn diving board is super fragile and on the device side. I know that it's supposed to be rated for a ton of plug cycles. But... I've broken 4 connectors in the last 2 years, 3 of them were device side micro b, and 1 was device side A. All 4 of those breaks were the diving board breaking free. They've got to change that.

R Reay
1:41 PM May 20, 2014

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