Mouser Electronics recently launched a newly designed USB Technology site to give buyers and designers of USB technologies access to the technical advances in USB standards, including the latest USB Type-C connector. A new section at the site is dedicated to the USB Type-C standard including connectors, controllers, circuit protection devices and other related components.
Historically, Mouser has done a good job of delivering the latest technical information around new product introductions (NPIs), but in this case the electronics distributor took a deeper dive into the latest USB technology to deliver a solutions-based offering. The result was an initial partnership with three electronic component manufacturers – Amphenol Commercial Products, Fairchild Semiconductor, and Littelfuse – to deliver the building blocks of a USB Type-C solution.
To help drive the adoption of USB Type-C, Amphenol Commercial Products partnered with Mouser – one of its NPI partners – and Fairchild and Littelfuse, which have a strong presence in the USB market, to offer a complete solution offering. Amphenol also expects the partnership to help establish the company as a leader in the marketplace for USB Type-C.
Amphenol believes there is a benefit to delivering a complete solution to the market. Having everything packaged into one solution helps streamline the entire purchasing process and the design process to some extent, said Greg MacDonald, distribution manager, Amphenol Commercial Products.
The Mouser website covers the four USB standards and specifications including Type-C, Power Delivery (PD), USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 3.1 Gen 2. The USB Type-C is the latest USB-IF connector standard and boasts several benefits – smaller form factor, higher data rates, and higher power. The USB Type-C technology delivers data rates up to 10 Gbits/s and up to 100 watts of power. In addition, it is reversible (non-polarized) and backwards compatible.
USB Type-C technology offers a single-cable solution for audio, video, data, and power. It provides both data and power to hosts and devices, while offering a universal power cable solution. Potential applications range from mobile devices and wearables to storage devices and video systems. USB Type-C is forecast to grow from 200 million shipments in 2016 to 2 billion shipments by 2021, according to ABI Research.
What’s generating the excitement in the industry, which is helping to drive the adoption of the product line, is the advancement of the interconnect itself, said MacDonald. The natural evolution of the product line from USB 2.0 and 3.0 to USB Type-C has led to a smaller and more capable interconnect, he added.
While most of the initial requests for the USB Type-C connector comes from the consumer side – laptops and other handheld devices, there are unlimited opportunities for using the low-profile interconnect, MacDonald said. “They can be used in applications where space is very limited and in low-profile designs.”
“The technology also offers more signal pins that allows the Type-C to accommodate high speed, low speed, power and video signal,” said MacDonald. “The video quality and performance is equal to HDMI and DVI connectors, which is pretty significant.”
“The other added bonus is that it’s backwards compatible to other USB types,” he added. “If a device has a USB 3.0 you can get a cable assembly to plug from the 3.0 to a USB Type-C and it will work.”
One caveat: MacDonald said the cables are specific to the USB interface on the host and end devices. “If you have a cable designed to go from a USB 2.0 to USB Type-C, for example, that won’t work with a USB 3.1 to a Type-C.”
In lieu of getting everything wireless the simplification of getting all of the electrical connections down to a single interface is the next best step and that is what USB 3.0 Type-C can deliver, said Jeff Orr, research director at ABI Research, Bend, Ore., in an earlier interview.
“We started to see that across a range of products most notably from the Apple brand. We also see it on smartphones such as the newest Google Nexus smartphone and on tablet designs and across all PC platforms that have the Intel architecture, which can span from as small as wearables all the way to the server space,” Orr said.
The Amphenol Commercial USB 3.1 Type-C connectors are fully compliant with Type-C specifications and are tailored for the newest emerging products, including wearable devices. The Amphenol connectors offer reversible plug and cable directions and support power charging with extended 5-A current ranges plus USB Power Delivery (PD) specification. The connectors also meet USB 3.1 protocols, delivering data rates up to 10 Gbits/s.
Amphenol also has a ruggedized version – an IP67 USB Type-C – under development. This interface is designed for outdoor environments in applications such as GPS devices and ruggedized computers. The product is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2016.