In less than five years Cypress has sold one billion USB-C® devices. With this success, the latest member of the Infineon family impressively underlines its leading role in USB-C technology and its strategic importance.
To understand the significance of this accomplishment, we interviewed Mark Fu, Sr. Director of Product Marketing for USB to get his perspective on being the leading provider of USB-C technology.
What is USB-C and what application is driving the volume?
USB-C or USB Type-C is the latest USB standard that facilitates:
- A new connector design that is slimmer and more reliable than previous generations
- Reversible plug orientation and cable direction
- Transport of USB data along with DisplayPort, HDMI, or Thunderbolt signals on the same connector
- Easy implementation of low-cost power delivery up to 100W
USB-C can replace all previous generation of USB implementations. Since USB-C’s market debut in 2015, the primary adoption of USB-C has been in notebook computers and smartphones. In 2020, more than 70% of new personal computers and more than 50% of new smartphones will ship with USB-C.
How is USB-C used in these devices?
In smartphones, USB-C has replaced the legacy USB micro-B connector, bringing fast charging and orientation-agnostic cabling benefits that prior USB connectors were not capable of. In a notebook PCs, USB-C enables one-cable docking, allowing the notebook PC to charge its battery, drive external displays and connect all peripheral devices from a single connection of the USB-C cable between the notebook to a USB-C docking station. This one-cable-for-all capability consolidates various power, monitor and peripheral connectors into a single, universal USB-C connector that makes the notebook PCs thinner, lighter and more mobile than ever.
Do you see it branching out beyond smart phones and laptops?
Yes!! The fast charging, easy-to-use cabling and multi-functional connectivity attributes are gradually being recognized by many OEMs outside of PC and mobile markets. I am expecting broader adoption of USB-C in the near future. For example, transporting audio/video along with power will find many uses beyond a laptop driving an external monitor. Cameras, camcorders, projectors, game consoles, VR headsets, etc. can all benefit from USB-C by combining audio, video, sensory data along with power on the same connector to help achieve the necessary miniaturization in industrial design to increase mobility. USB-C’s ability in delivering 100W of power from a standard-based, worldwide-accepted connector can benefit consumer, industrial, automotive and medical applications as well.
What is the next wave of USB-C adoption?
The next wave of USB-C adoption will be in power. USB has been providing power along with data since its inception more than 20 years ago. Portable electronic devices have taken full advantage of it and made the USB Type-A port a widely deployed 5W power source. The USB-C and USB Power Delivery standard brought two important upgrades – elevate power delivery from 5W to 100W (20V@5A) and allow power to flow in either direction between a host and a device. Both upgrades will bring broad and deep impact on how future electronic devices are designed and used. For the first time in history, there is a universal connector for power, such that all electronic devices—portable or stationary, battery powered or plugged into the wall—can be powered by a common power adapter using USB-C. Think of future power adapters as household batteries we typically consume- AA, AAA, D, C, 9V multi-cell—the 5 most common batteries that vast majority of portable electronic devices use. The manufacturers of these devices simply specify what type of battery to be used without the need to design a custom battery for each device. Fast forward to the near future, all power adapters will use the same USB-C connector such that every electronic device can share or reuse a common power adapter that differs only by wattage—30W, 45W, 65W, 100W—and not by the connector used, the manufactures who produced it or the specific product it’s paired with. Consumers will no longer have to carry a dedicated power adapter for every device they carry while on travel. Manufacturers will no longer have to produce a custom power adapter for each product since only a handful of USB-C power adapters at different wattage ratings can power all products they produce. By using a common USB-C power adapter, manufacturers can even choose not to ship a power adapter with their product at all, which saves cost and streamlines supply chain management. When sharing and reuse is maximized by using a common USB-C power adapter for all electronic devices, the world would save up to 1 million tons of e-waste, prevent used power adapters from going into landfill. The bottom line is, everyone—Consumer, manufacturer, and mother earth—wins when the whole world converges to a common USB-C power adapter.
What’s the future of USB-C and USB power delivery?
The future of USB-C is – one connector that rules them all. USB-C is becoming the de facto connector for data, video, audio, display and power, and it will be the only do-all connector on every consumer electronic device going forward. USB power delivery will continue to replace traditional barrel jacks or custom connectors for power, and eventually become the universal power source for every device we use.
What might the standard be, anything profound on the horizon?
The USB Implementors Forum, the governing body of USB-C specifications, is in early stages of defining the next generation USB Power Delivery standard capable of taking USB-C’s power-carrying capacity from 100W to 240W. The new standard will elevate the 20V limit to include Extended Power Range (EPR) of 28V, 36V and 48V and up to 5A. EPR will have a profound impact on how all electronic devices will be powered in the future. If you're interested in buying an eval kit – here is a recommended dev. kit for USB:
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Regards, The Cypress Team