USB-C is about to get a powerful upgrade

USB-C cables due out later this year will enable 240 watts power delivery to expand the number of devices that can be powered over the cables.

There should be new cables and devices available this year that support the new USB specification enabling 240 watts, more than doubling the maximum of today's 100 watt USB-C cables. 

As ZDNet sister site CNET reports, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) unveiled the 240 watt capacity for USB-C cables and connectors in USB-C Release 2.1 and the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) Revision 3.1 specification.  

The higher power range means that USB-C will be able to support larger laptops for gaming, docking stations, 4K monitors and printers. USB-C has oval ports and reversible cables, supporting phones, tablets and PCs.

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"With the new capabilities of USB Power Delivery 3.1, we now enable higher power products such as larger notebook PCs to shift from traditional power connectors to USB Type-C," said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group chairman

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

USB-IF told CNET that devices supporting higher wattages should be available in the second half of this year. 

The 240-watt USB-C variant is called Extended Power Range (EPR) and products with this will be required to have icons that inform the user that a cable supports up to 240W. 

But it also means there will be new lower-power cables called Standard Power Range (SPR). Cables will be identified as usable for SPR only while others will be usable for SPR and EPR, according to the specification.  

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USB Power Delivery Revision 3.1 specification includes the capability to provide up to 48 V and 240 W of power.

With the higher power option, the USB-IF has provided manufacturers advice on how they can prevent an electrical current arcing through the air between the USB-C plug and port when users unplug a device.