The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) recently published all the specifications for the upcoming USB-C 2.1. This new generation will support a new norm called USB Power Delivery Extended Power Range (EPR) that can charge your devices up to 240W, which is more than double the current 100W limitation. Also, this new standard further paves the road for USB4 and DisplayPort 2.0 “alt modes” that supports up to three 8K displays at 10bits/120Hz or one 16K 10bits/60Hz display. Let’s take a closer look at it!
Back in 2019, we already talked about USB4 that supports Thunderbolt 3 and speeds up to 40Gbps. Technology moves fast, and so do standards. Apple’s MacBooks were some of the first laptops on the market to support charging via a USB-C/Thunderbolt port, and the latest 16-inch Macbook Pro requires a tremendous 100W power supply to be charged.
However, 100W is the maximum amount of power you can currently feed through a USB-C cable. To solve that problem, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) published a 410 pages document that build the future of USB-C 2.1.
USB-C 2.1 – What’s new?
So what’s new with USB-C 2.1 compared to the current version? Well, in terms of transfer speeds, you won’t get any major improvement.
The main changes are around charging capabilities. With USB-C, you have several charging modes available, including 5V/1.5A that is used to charge a smartphone at 7.5W, as well as a 5V/3A mode to charge it at 15W.
In short, with USB-C Power Delivery, you can currently charge any device up to 20V and 5A. If you do the maths, this is why you can energize a 100W laptop with USB-C PD.
However, some very powerful laptops require more than 100W to be charged. This is precisely what USB-C 2.1 will solve, with a maximum 48V/5A charging capability, which means up to 240W. To ensure all your devices will be compatible with this new high output standard, there will be a new norm called USB Power Delivery Extended Power Range (EPR).
To avoid problems and make consumers’ lives easier, the USB-IF mentions that manufacturers will have to put a specific “EPR” label on their cables/chargers for easy identification.
USB4 and Alternative Mode 2.0
USB-C 2.1 also wants to further continue implementing USB4 and DisplayPort 2.0 connectivity with Alternative Mode 2.0.
DisplayPort 2.0 is “embedded” inside USB4, and it can support video stream up to 16K (15 360 x 8 460) at 10bits/60Hz/30fps as well as 8K (7 680 x 4 320) at 10bits/120Hz/60fps which is massive. Indeed, DisplayPort 2.0 has a maximum bandwidth of up to 77.4 Gbps and is also supported by Thunderbolt devices.
We should start seeing USB-C 2.1 devices by the end of this year or early next year, opening new possibilities for manufacturers.
If you want to download and read the entire USB-C 2.1 release note, please head over to the USB.org website here.
What do you think about this new USB-C norm? Are you confused with all the different USB standards? When it comes to video, what is your preferred standard, USB or Thunderbolt? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments down below!