USB 100W spec will pump up power for juicing tablets, notebooks

Aug 12, 2011 by Nancy Owano weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced a revised power delivery spec that means significant changes in how consumers will be able to power up tablets, notebooks, and a range of other e-devices. The new spec, designed for backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 and support for USB 3.0, promises to deliver up to 100W of power. It’s that capability--of delivering as high as 100 watts of power—that carries the excitement. The jump from 5W 900mA to 100W 20A is expected to extend the use of USB as an instant connection once the spec is implemented. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is populated by HP, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

The Group developed the 3.0 specification, released in November 2008, supporting speeds up to 4.8 Gbps. That represented a ramp-up approximately 10 times faster than the .0. The newest effort is far more ambitious.

“Building on the rapidly increasing industry momentum for using USB bus power to charge a broad range of mobile devices, the new USB Power Delivery specification extends USB’s cable capabilities beyond simple battery charging,” said Brad Saunders, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “Charging the battery of a notebook PC, or simply powering that notebook PC while actively using the USB data connection, would be possible,” he stated. "Conceivably, a notebook PC could rely solely on a USB connection for its source of power."

Fundamentally, the USB 3.0 has been facing a tougher reality of a gadget-heavy universe where the 5 W limit has become burdensome for users of devices like the iPAD, which uses closer to 10W.

The timeline for the spec has several phases. There is an industry review scheduled for later this year. In mid-September, the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco will offer more information and plans for a pre-release industry review.A final spec will be sent to the USB Implementers Forum early next year.

But one observer, Tutorial Online, tempered the excitement with a note from recent history. “Still, consumers may not see the benefits of the new technology so soon thereafter. Though the USB 3.0 standard was formalized in November 2008, the first consumer products based on USB 3.0 didn't arrive until early 2010."

Explore further: SDSC joins the Intel Parallel Computing Centers program

More information: Press release: www.usb.org/press/USB_Power_De… ry_Specification.pdf

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User comments : 12

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
A nice thought, but how would the laptop then power a 100 Watt USB device when it is being used as the host?

That's calling for pretty heavy power supplies from the host machines, and heavy connectors. 20 amps is not a trivial amount of current, and even desktop computers may struggle with 100 Watts extra drain.

Though it does put a new twist on the USB cup-warmer/cooler idea.
Techno1
5 / 5 (3) Aug 12, 2011
I think 100W is ridiculous.

May as well have a seperate power supply.

I don't see any point in having something else to break in a computer. The power supply is already one of the most likely components to break and be replaced.
Bob_Kob
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2011
I can imagine someone running a game at high graphics with a just barely enough power supply juicing it plugging in their tablet to charge and screwing the whole thing up.
TheSpiceIsLife
not rated yet Aug 12, 2011
5 volt 20amp to give 100 watt. That's stupid.

20amp. That's the most retarded thing I've heard in the last hour.

And yes, what for? The iPad and other tablets. Fine, just deliver 20watt via USB, that'll do to charge two of 'em.
arri_guy
not rated yet Aug 13, 2011
I'd just be happy if they would define a (mechanical) spec for a USB connector that wouldn't work loose. Some sort of click-in or twist lock. I'm tired of plugging in USB hard drives to my computers of Boxee and they don't show up. Maybe it's just me, but I really feel there's gotta be a better way.
Tomharg
not rated yet Aug 13, 2011
Ah, but it is not necessarily 20A (which would require 12 gauge power wiring and heavier connectors) but negotiable voltage and current to provide up to 100W. Here's the quote from the press release:
"- Enables voltage and current values to be negotiated over the USB power pins
- Enables higher voltage and current in order to deliver power up to 100W"
Tom
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2011
I don't like the idea that someone could program my USB port to produce the wrong voltage and fry my components.

As a general rule, hardware should not be able to be destroyed by a software bug or malicious program.
M_N
1 / 5 (1) Aug 15, 2011
How long before cables start catching fire becuase someone uses a 24 or 26 gauge cable on a device that requests 20 amps? Sounds like a recipe for disaster...
dav_i
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
Someone must have pressed an extra zero on the press release. 10W 2A sounds much more believable...
Guy_Underbridge
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
Sounds like time to invest in replacement cable & power supply manufacturers. Fire exstinguisher companies, too.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011

That's calling for pretty heavy power supplies from the host machines, and heavy connectors. 20 amps is not a trivial amount of current, and even desktop computers may struggle with 100 Watts extra drain.

Probably not designed for continuous use. I'm thinking this might be for computers (and even laptops) interfacing with a printer or scanner. Currently those machines are just being plugged in and sitting idle for 99.9% of the time.
Would be nice to just connct and power them for the short time they are actually needed (and would seriously decrease the rats nest of power leads so common today). The total power drain on the batteries might not be so sever for such intermittent use.
hard2grep
not rated yet Aug 29, 2011
The average human can put out one third of a horsepower?.. one horsepower is about 750 watts. I could scout around town on an electric bike with a few laptop batteries and a couple USB ports. I see an Ipod-powered bike complete with a speedometer and excercise plan. Or how about an I-pad powered tabletop milling machine.