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In my previous blog post, I wrote how much better than the existing Type-A and Type-B plugs the recently announced Type-C connector will be. Actually, the Type-C connector is only a part of the equation of how better the USB ecosystem will become when all USB specifications announced this year find their places in future devices. The others are USB 3.1, with its up to 10Gbps data rate, Power Delivery 2.0, and Alternate Modes for Power Delivery specification. As Alternate Modes deserve a separate topic, and I will talk about it in more detail next time, today I will focus on Power Delivery specification revision 2.0.
Many of you may ask, Power Delivery 2.0? Why haven’t we heard about 1.0 then? Well, the reason for it is that Power Delivery 1.0 was announced only in 2012, so not many devices have made it into the market yet, and second, only now, coupled with a Type-C connector, does Power Delivery start making much more sense.
Essentially, Power Delivery is an extension of the USB specification that enables the use of USB cables to drive to up 100W of power. It’s worth noting that Power Delivery is independent of USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 specifications, so from the user point of view the only thing those have in common are the USB plugs. Or, as it will soon turn out, one plug—the Type-C one.
The reason the Type-C plug is so important is because it’s bidirectional, so it can work both ways. When you connect your phone to your tablet, you can charge one device or the other, depending on which is lacking juice. With this in mind, one can easily imagine a desktop where the only cable you need is USB with Type-C plugs and Power Delivery support, and a single power cord to power your display monitor, which will provide power to other devices.
The other nice thing about Power Delivery is that it can assign power dynamically. Say you’re working at your desktop, your laptop is charging from the monitor and you need to print something. As ink printers can consume up to 60W, which, added to say 65W of power consumption of a laptop charger is more than 100W, USB Power Delivery can suspend charging the laptop for the time you spend printing the docs and resume at full force when you’re done. Pretty smart, isn’t it?
Last but not least, USB Power Delivery can give all devices a better bang for our bucks, as by eliminating the power supplies, the printer, mobile or laptop manufacturers will be able to ship their products with USB Type-C cable only and rely on users to charge these devices from powered hubs embedded most likely in display monitors. Certainly, this will not be immediate, but it may be that in 2016 a wall charger will be offered as an extra, like a desktop sleeve or a headset.
With all this in mind, it is very safe to say that future looks bright for USB. In the next blog post, I will talk more about another interesting feature that comes with Power Delivery—Alternate Mode support for display, both DisplayPort and HDMI. Stay connected!