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Upcoming USB-C standard more than doubles power delivery to 240W

The USB Implementers Forum in an update regarding revision 2.1 of its USB-C specification said the forthcoming protocol will be capable of accommodating power output of 240 watts.

Announced in an update posted to the USB-IF website, the new USB-C 2.1 specification release offers a deep dive into the coming protocol, including hardware requirements, restrictions and interoperability with other technologies.

As noted by CNET, version 2.1 of the standard will introduce a 240-watt option called Extended Power Range. Currently, USB-C version 2.0 tops out at 100W.

The increased power headroom will allow for a wider range of peripherals including large 4K monitors, gaming laptops, printers and more.

According to the USB-IF document, special markings will be required for cables that support EPR. The distinction will be important as the high-power USB-C spec proliferates through the personal computing and smartphone industries.

Initially designed to streamline data transfer, the USB protocol has morphed into a ubiquitous standard that spans system communications to, more recently, dedicated power delivery. Smartphones are the latest to turn to USB, as the thin, reversible USB-C connector and port enables relatively high transfer speeds, fast charging, and non-proprietary cables.

Apple, notorious for using its own connector standards, has been more open to adopting the latest USB flavors in its most recent hardware revisions. For example, iPad Pro moved to USB-C in 2018, while the company’s initial batch of M1 Macs were the first to integrate USB 4.

While other smartphone manufacturers are migrating to the latest USB specification, Apple is not expected to make the leap anytime soon, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Beyond wider market pressures, Kuo sees potential technical issues related to waterproofing and notes Apple’s Made for iPhone program could be impacted by a switch.


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