You could be charging your laptop via USB cables soon, thanks to new USB PD technology

You could be charging your laptop via USB cables soon, thanks to new USB PD technology

Summary: The new USB Power Delivery (PD) standard was shown off last week at IDF 2012. It can provide the 60 watts of power needed to recharge a laptop battery, and may be available starting later this year.

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TOPICS: Laptops, Hardware
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You've long been able to recharge your smartphone via USB, and you can even juice up your tablet using that method. But a new flavor of USB is designed to pump out much more power, gving you the ability to charge up your laptop via a USB adapter.

The new standard, USB Power Delivery (or PD), was showcased at Intel's IDF 2012 event last week, and our sister site CNET provides details from the presentation that two Intel engineers gave on the new technology. While you can currently get up to 7.5 watts of power from a specialized battery charging version of USB (USB 3.0 ordinarily provides 4.5 watts), USB PD could offer up to 100 watts of juice -- more than enough to cover nearly any portable device.

In a presentation available on the USB Implementers Forum site, the organization envisions a scenario (shown above) where an LCD monitor would have a USB PD port, which could be used to charge a notebook battery while also serving as that computer's primary display. In theory, the USB PD port could also be built into a new desktop or even a wall adapter to free you from using a "wall wart" style plug to recharge your laptop battery using AC power.

While no specific product announcements have been made about USB PD, the Forum thinks we may see some products using the new standard by the end of 2012. According to CNET, companies that have expressed interest in USB PD technology include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Nokia and, of course, Intel.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware

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18 comments
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  • Great!

    Now all I need is a USB cable with two regular USB connectors on both sides, then my laptop can charge itself!

    I love being alive in these technologically exciting times.
    Han CNX
  • What is the point?

    You are still going to need an AC plug & transformer on the end of the USB cable...so how is this different?

    And why would I be plugging my laptop into a monitor? Just to cahrge it? Not likely.

    Another epic FAIL.
    IT_Fella
    • Well...

      Apple already have displays that charge plugged in MacBooks. I think it would be VERY useful as you could leave the charger in your bag most of the time.

      Apple's solution isn't quite this elegant. But it is quite useable.
      jeremychappell
    • Close, although not quite

      You only need a transformer if your cable is directly connected into AC power. USB ports, however, provide [b]DC[/b] power, because they're installed in a device running off of DC power (i.e. PC motherboard uses the onboard power supply to convert from AC to DC, printer/scanner/all-in-one device has an AC-to-DC transformer on its power cord, etc.).

      However, the more valid point is that most of the time, if you're in a situation where you might have a device like the example monitor that you can plug into, you're going to have access to a wall outlet anyway...so why get one more cable that a) you have to find room for in your laptop case, and b) requires a special USB port that not only isn't widely available for purchase, but is extremely unlikely to be found in the average office?

      Maybe in a few years, when they've become more standardized on computer hardware & the next cycle of enterprise investment has occurred, it'll be more helpful. Or maybe if coffeehouses & restaurants install those hybrid outlets with USB ports & stick USB PSD hubs into them...
      spdragoo@...
    • So I guess you think micro USB power adapters were a bad idea

      The idea here is to develop a universal power adapter standard for devices that need more power, not just to plug your notebook into your monitor.

      If you think the fact that most phones and many small devices use micro USB as a power connector and charging standard, then you should be behind this.

      It would be really funny if one ventured over to an article on the new connector on the iPhone 5 and found you criticizing it for not being micro USB, while labeling this "epic FAIL".
      lonniemcclure
  • Wake me up when

    Wake me up when nothing has to be plugged into anything else, for any kind of charging or connectivity.
    Han CNX
    • Except

      Except top make babies. Single and only exception.
      Han CNX
  • USB cables

    It's not possible current USB cables can carry 100W. At 5V that's 20A current!!!
    Even at 20V, that's 5A current, way more than the original USB design of 0.5A (which has been increased recently).

    Given that current 5V chargers go up to 2.1A -- if we consider this "safe", then voltage should go up to 48V to accommodate 100W and 48V is not exactly low voltage..

    A new, USB compatible interface is something different... but that would mean every thing changes. Again.
    danbi
    • I believe...

      For *distribution* purposes, I believe anything under 50V is considered "low voltage" as far as safety goes. Don't stick your tongue on it though, but in theory it's not enough to kill you.

      So a 48V USB voltage at 2.1A (100W) in theory could be a possibility.
      Qbt
    • This standard

      This standard calls for varying voltages, up to 20 volts, which would mean 5A @ 20V to provide the 100 watt maximum.

      Look at your typical 60W notebook AC adapter (or even 90W adapter if you have one) that outputs at 18.5 - 19 volts and compare the DC cable size to a typical USB cable.

      If you read the introduction document (http://www.usb.org/developers/powerdelivery/PD_1.0_Introduction.pdf), you'll note that existing cables are limited to 7.5 watts, while higher power delivery specifies "PD aware" cables.
      lonniemcclure
  • INVENTORS - DO NOT TRUST INTEL!!!

    INVENTORS - DO NOT TRUST INTEL
    I invented a CPU cooler - 3 times better than best - better than water. Intel have major CPU cooling problems - "Intel's microprocessors were generating so much heat that they were melting" (iht.com) - try to talk to them - they send my communications to my competitor & will not talk to me.

    Winners of major 'Corporate Social Responsibility' awardS!!!

    Huh!!!!

    When did RICO get repealed?"

    INVENTORS - DO NOT TRUST INTEL!!!

    BTW, I have the evidence - my competitor gave it to me.

    BBTW, I am prepared to apologise to Intel if;

    • They can show that the actions were those of a single individual within the company, but acting outside corporate policy, and:

    • They gain redress on my behalf.

    I accept full responsibility for this post. Stuart 21 at mac dot com.
    Stuart21@...
  • Universal is the key word

    Removing multiple chargers from the market and offering charging from other equipment would be useful if it wasn't for the fact that as people have stated, everything will have to change to enable it. Imagine one lead, a USB lead, that could charge everything you have. You can't tell me that wouldn't be useful? Carry one lead and adaptor for 5 products, rather then the possible 5 you would need now. I can see the point if everyone goes for it. Unfortunately that remains to be seen and I bet apple refuse to accept the standard.

    More realistically, wireless charging will progress beyond the mass-adoption of the new high-powered USB and then it will be rendered obsolete for charging purposes. Hopefully.
    Little Old Man
  • The problem I see with this is...

    ...USB cables seem to be a lot more fragile, and therefore require much more frequent replacement than do conventional chargers.
    John L. Ries
    • Not that big of a problem

      USB cables are also cheaper to replace, and with every gizmo shipping with one, you're sure to have a drawer full of them before long; just like PC power cables.
      jvitous
    • Cheaper to replace a cable than a power adapter

      When I was working as a tech at a local computer repair shop, I can't tell you how many replacement AC adapters we had to order for customers because the DC side of the adapter (either the cable or connector) were damaged in some way.

      If those adapters had used a standardized cable, the story would have been very different. Which do you think would cost less: A power adapter that sells only to owners of that specific notebook, or a cable which is used on almost every notebook and computer peripheral?
      lonniemcclure
  • Hmmmmm.

    The power brick on my laptop says its 90 Watts. Now, I wonder what happens to the power supply in your typical office PC (which is usually around 250 watts) when you suddenly plug in that laptop. Pop goes the weasel! Meaning all said desktop PC's will need to incorporate power supplies sufficient for this purpose if the manufacturer wants to include this functionality. Of course then what happens when the user decides to plug in his buddie's laptop too? OR if he has already foolishly overloaded it with some gaming graphics card the system was never intended for?

    I can see a lot of power supplied popping out there.
    cornpie
  • It wouldn't go pop

    Keep in mind this isn't a dumb plug; power delivery is negotiated, and startup is at normal USB voltage and current levels.

    If the manufacturer was dumb enough to allow 90 watts power delivery on a machine that had a 250W power supply, but was using 200 watts for itself, then they would be to blame.
    lonniemcclure
  • You could be charging your laptop via USB cables soon, thanks to new USB PD

    If this become a generic one Its great and I love it. Unlike some "propriety connectors some many manufacture use, this will be good for environmental (less wasted).
    pamandua2@...