To USB or Not to USB


USB Trends – Type-C everywhere

USB Trends – Type-C everywhere


As I read about how the Tesla Model 3 will soon exit “Production Hell” and Elon Musk will no longer need “Bet the company” business plans, I think about how Type-C is really everywhere.


Type-C everywhere in mobile phones

Pretty much every non-iOS phone (Android phone) now only has the USB Type-C connector. The USB-IF and the EU have been pushing this way for about 10 years now.   For the USB-IF it’s always been about ease-of-use.  For the EU it’s about reducing the 51000 tonnes of charger waste thrown away each year.  For Phone makers like the smaller form factor, with faster speed support for USB 3.0/3.1 and faster.  (The old micro-AB had EMI issues that could impact throughout (and it was wide for a phone)

For phone makers, it means a better user experience, and one standard cable for all phones and tablets, and competing vendors generating competitive bids for large quantities of Type-C cables for charging phones.


Phones use Type-C to show videos or presentations to TVs/displays

Specifically, phones like the Huawei Mate 10 use Type-C to provide both USB and DisplayPort to move video from the phone to a screen or projector. A Type-C adapter is required to convert from Type-C to DisplayPort or HDMI.  It makes it possible to travel with only the Huawei Mate 10 for business, along with a Bluetooth keyboard.

Here’s a demonstration of the Huawei Mate 10 using those modes:


Type-C everywhere in PCs

For years now, Apple has only shipped ultralight laptops with the Type-C connector.   The Google Pixel and Samsung Chromebooks only have Type-C connectors.

Windows ultralight laptop PCs now ship with USB Type-C as standard.   Bigger models include a mix of standard-A ports.


Specifically, if you look at the larger Dell PCs and HP PCs, they provide cool Type-C add-ons like the power brick with a Type C charger built in.

  • Charge your phone, without powering on your PC by plugging directly into the bring
  • Charge your phone without taking up a port on your PC
    • Saves the PC maker space on the PC by only using Type-C

Also docking stations include both standard, larger Type-A connectors and Type-C connectors as well.


The great thing about USB Docking stations providing more ports and power through a single Type-C cable means you don’t need to replace your docking station each time you upgrade your computer. Synopsys has already moved to this model. All our docking stations are USB based going forward. I estimate this will reduce waste by 90% as docking stations can be used for 10 years or more.  It reduces costs by a bunch also


Specifically, the DisplayLink enabled docking stations work great because they use pure USB with Type-C without the need for Alternate mode for DisplayPort so PCs not yet supporting this mode can work until all PCs have the feature.  (I’m pretty sure all our docking stations are enabled with DisplayLink chips and they work super well as you can see below). I’ve seen Lenovo, Dell, and HP versions in our offices in Mountain View.


Type-C everywhere in peripherals for mobile phones and PCs


With phones and PCs, standardized on Type-C, it’s possible to use any PC peripheral (with Type-C) with any phone (with type-C). As long as the phone has drivers.


DisplayLink demonstrated this some time ago in this video with us here.


Again, the trend allows phone makers to build more applications for more phones (and tablets). This means the same chip can potentially be used for more power applications like tables the way that Qualcomm is doing with Windows 10 laptops (Surface).


Type-C makes:

  • The user experience better with simplicity (no more flipping)
  • Reduces costs with even broader markets for Type-C cables and connectors
  • Increases reliability with a symmetrical connector
  • Saves area on the PCB edge and laptop outside edge
  • Reduces waste by increasing reuseability
  • Opens new opportunities for mobile phone and tablet chips with more available peripherals



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