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Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 7, 2015

USB Type-C Explained Along With Its Significance In Modern Electronics

USB Type-C connector could hold the key to the power and connectivity of the future electronic gadgets. I decided to write this post to talk about the connector, its significance and all that you should know about it. I'll try my best to explain the things in easy to understand language so that our fellow engineers from non electronics/computer background will be able to understand and make sense. Just about few hours ago, the screenshots of Apple's upcoming Macbook Air leaked and they seem to have dropped most of the ports in favor of the USB Type-C connector. If Apple's loving the USB Type-C; then industry is quite likely to follow the suit in all their upcoming gadgets.

What exactly is USB?

I'd not go into details of how USB works, but those who want to understand the working may refer to excellent article on HowStuffWorks: USB. That article has more information than required to get you started. USB ports are available on most of the gadgets you use: desktop, laptops, tablets and smartphones in various shapes and forms. These ports can not only carry data but also have the capability to charge your gadgets! That's what makes them really interesting!

USB Types: Type-A, Type-B and Type-C

USB version (2.0), (3.0) etc. typically refers to the speed and functionality of the cable that runs between the USB ports; while the 'type' (A,B,C) refers to the physical appearance/shape and internal wiring of the ports/plugs.

Type-A: The most common one that can be found on your desktops, laptops, pen-drives et al. These are rectangular in shape. Note that type-A USB connectors will always be compatible with other type-A connector; even if they support different USB version. For example, Type-A USB 3.0 would work fine with Type-A USB 2.0.

Type-B: This comes in various sub-types. The one that's found on printers and scanners (regular), one found in older portable devices (Mini-B USB) and most of the gadgets today have Micro-B USB.

Type-C: This type is same size of the Micro-B USB, and both ends of the USB cable will be of the same type. The design is such that it will allow the ports to be reversible in orientation (you can plug the cable upside down). This type will support USB 3.1 with speeds up to 10 Gbps and power deliver of about 20v (100 Watt) at 5A. This allows for charging of laptops and tablets up to 15 or even 17" (with typical requirement of about just 60W).

The Type-C and USB 3.1 will be backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0. But for connecting with Type-A; these will require special adapters.

I personally look forward to the type-C USB 3.1 adapters to be put into Macbook Air (expected to release in the next few months). It'd definitely prove to be a game changer!

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