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USB-C upgrade enables 240W output for more power-hungry devices

The maximum output power of USB-C chargers has been upgraded to 240W from 100W, allowing more powerful gaming laptops and 4K displays to be powered via USB ports in the future.

The USB Promoter Group, which includes Apple, Microsoft and Intel, said the new USB Power Delivery specification includes a “stricter power negotiation protocol” that helps ensure that the higher capacity can still be safely delivered.

For example, Apple’s MacBook Pro already uses a 96W USB-C charger that supports the maximum possible output power under the current specification.

“With the new capabilities of USB Power Delivery 3.1, we can now switch higher-powered products, such as larger notebooks, from traditional power connections to USB Type-C,” said Brad Saunders, group chairman of the USB Promoter.

“We also expect a wider range of product application developers outside of the traditional USB ecosystem to now consider standardizing on USB Type-C with USB PD [for] their power needs.

” Due to the higher output, devices such as televisions or game consoles can be charged in the future.

It should also allow laptop manufacturers to standardize charging ports across their range – currently devices that consume more power, such as gaming laptops, need a dedicated port to meet higher energy demands.

From a consumer perspective, the physical standard remains the same and the reversible USB-C ports are both forward and backward compatible with older generations, with the caveat that older ports will not be able to use the higher output power.

The USB-C specification was originally completed in 2014 and was developed alongside the USB 3.1 specification which enabled higher data bandwidth than previous versions.

It has replaced the micro USB in most smartphones for both charging and data transfer, with the exception of Apple’s iPhone, which has stuck to the company’s own Lightning port.

“The 3.1 revision of the USB Power Delivery specification, which offers the ability to deliver up to 48V and 240W of power, will help open up additional design options for current and new users of USB Type-C technology,” said Deric Waters, senior technical staff member at Texas Instruments.

USB 4.0 was announced in 2019, bringing Intel’s Thunderbolt specification into the broader standard for super-fast data transfers and the ability to daisy-chain display via a single cable.