USB 3.1 Type C Connector Is Reversible

May 19, 2014
The USB 3.1 Type-C connector is similar in size to the USB 2.0 Micro-B connector.

USB 3 brought faster transfer rates and a new connector to the scene (see “USB 3.0: A Tale Of Two Buses”). The connector had more signals to accommodate the older USB 2.0 and newer USB 3.0 standard. Older cables could connect to new connectors and vice versa. Of course,the bandwidth was limited by the slower side.

The USB 3.1 Type-C connector (Fig. 1) targets compact mobile devices like smartphones. One major difference other than size is its reversible nature. This is new to USB connections but common in other areas. This is also true for cable connections. Older USB cables had unique connectors on each end. The new Type-C connectors also click when plugged in for audible connection feedback.

Figure 1. The USB 3.1 Type-C connector is similar in size to the USB 2.0 Micro-B connector.

The socket for USB 3.1 Type-C connectors will probably be added next to larger USB connectors on devices like laptops (Fig. 2). They will likely be the sole USB connector on smaller devices like smartphones and tablets.

Figure 2. The USB 3.1 Type-C connector will probably coexist with the larger USB connectors on devices like laptops.

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The connectors are approximately 8.3-mm by 2.5-mm. Target life cycles is 10,000 connections. Power capacity is designed for 3 A for the cables while the connectors can handle 5 A. They will support USB D power management and extended current handling. The cables also have improved EMI and RFI support. They will be able to handle the 5.1 Gbit/s of Gen 1 USB 3.1 as well as the 10 Gbit/s for Gen 2.

Adapters and cables with different connector combinations will be possible since this new connector is just changing the form factor, not the signals.

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William G. Wong | Senior Content Director - Electronic Design and Microwaves & RF

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