What is USB-C

USB-C or USB Type-C is a 24 pin USB connector system which was introduced in August 2014 to provide increased connectivity and smaller more robust connector.

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The USB C or more correctly the USB Type-C connector provides many advantages over its predecessors. Providing improved connectivity, and robustness it is making a major introduction into the market.

The USB Type-C or USB-C connector itself can support new USB capabilities like USB 3.1 and also USB Power Delivery, USB PD. Indeed its development has been closely linked with the introduction of these new USB standards. Typically USB Type-C is used with USB3.0 and USB 3.1.

The standard USB connector used on items like flash memory cards and many computer connections of the Type-A, and there are other types as well that are used for camera connectors, smartphones and the like, but the type-A connector has remained the same for very many years.

What is USB-C

USB Type-C connector is the new smaller connector standard for USB. It is about a third the size of the old type-A connectors.

The other advantage of the USB-C connector is that it is a single connector standard that can be used for all devices, so the proliferation of different connectors should reduce as USB-C becomes more widespread.

There has been a significant amount of development invested in the USB-C and it is considerably more flexible than previous iterations. It can be used for connections to low power devices like smartphones, cameras and the like, or it can be used for computers and laptops.

The USB-C connector has some similarities to a micro USB connector, although it is more oval-shaped and slightly thicker. Like the Lightning and MagSafe connectos, the USB-C connector has no up or down orientation. Line up the connector properly, and you don't have to flip it to plug it in.

The other difference is that the same USB-C connector is used at both ends of a cable, i.e. it is reversible.

USB-C ports are considerably more flexible than their predecessors. The USB-C is able to support a variety of different protocols using what may be termed alternate modes. This allows the ability to have adapters that can output HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or other types of connections from that single USB port.

This provides a considerable level of convenience because the variety of USB, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, and power ports on typical laptops can be converged into the use of a single type of port.

USB-Type C and USB3.1

The new USB-C connector is also capable of carrying the very much higher data speeds that are now available with USB3 / USB3.1.

With data speeds from a variety of sources increasing, and with the possibility of using USB-C for HDMI and other capabilities, the connector must be capable of supporting data rates of these speeds.

With USB 3.1 providing data transfer rates of 5Gbps, these speeds are commensurate with frequencies well into the microwave region.


The USB-Type-C connector has been developed to meet the needs of the USB PD specification. Many devices including smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices use their USB connection for obtaining power for charging. However the old connectors were limited in the power they could pass. A USB 2.0 connection provides up to 2.5 watts of power. This is sufficient for most small devices, but not for larger ones like laptops.

The USB Power Delivery specification provides for the delivery of power levels up to 100 watts.

The USB-C is bi-directional, and so is the power delivery system. This means that using the same connector, a device can either send or receive power.

Power can also be delivered while data is being transmitted, meaning that, effectively, parallel operation of both capabilities is possible.

USB-C Capabilities

The capabilities of the USB-C system are summarised in the table below:

USB Type-C Connector Specification Summary
Parameter Specification
Receptacle opening ~8.3 x ~2.5 mm
Lifetime 10 000 cycles
Power delivery 3A for standard connectors
5A for connectors
USB 2 compatibility LS / FS / HS
USB 3 compatibility Gen 1 (5Gbps)
Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
EMI Improved over USB-A and USB-B
Enhanced power delivery USB PD
Docking support USB PD based interface configuration option

USB-C, or USB Type-C is abale to provide significantly improved connectivity for the USB system and is primarily intended to support the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 versions of USB. In this way it helps to provide the superspeed data transfers that can be achieved with these new standards.

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