Apple’s Thunderbolt to get sleeker, reversible competition from USB

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is working on next generation of USB connector, which will be thinner, as well as reversible to overcome the ‘frustration’ current USB connectors cause to a user.

The group said that the new USB Type-C connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies will also enhance usability and provide a growth path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB.

There are many drawbacks of the current USB connectors. First there are at least 3 different sizes – standard, MicroUSB and MiniUSB. So if you have a camera, a laptop and an Android smartphone you will have to carry three separate USB cables for each device.

Apple solved that problem by introducing Intel’s ‘Thunderbolt’ technology. Apple tried that earlier by moving to better technology with Firewire, but due to lack of support from the larger market the technology never managed to pick up.

Non-Apple world is trying to fix this problem with the new USB Type-C connector.

Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:

  • An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
  • New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
  • Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
  • The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
  • Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance.

“While USB technology is well established as the favored choice for connecting and powering devices, we recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”

The new Type-C plug and receptacle will not work with existing USB plugs and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.). In order to allow users to use their existing products with new cables the Type-C specification will define passive new-to-existing cables and adapters.

About Varghese Chacko

An IT guy, I have been working as a QA professional for around 6.5 years. I keenly follow technology with a special focus on open source. After much distro-hopping, I settled down on using openSUSE as my distribution of choice. A fan of Arsenal ever since I started following football, I keenly follow sports and am good for a game always.

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