USB Type-C in 2023: What you Need to Know

Posted by Targus 27-09-2023 01:00 PM

USB Type-C continues to evolve. During our latest Tech Talk webinar, Targus Field Application Engineer Colin MacGregor shared the latest insights on connectivity updates and enhancements, and how to take advantage of them to better meet the needs of your enterprise and end users. 

Specifically, he gave the audience a deeper look at the changes in specifications as we shift from technologies like Thunderbolt 3 to USB4, Thunderbolt 4, and USB Power Delivery 3.1. In case you missed the session or need a refresher course, you can watch the webinar on-demand now and read on for some of the highlights.

What is USB Power Delivery Revision 3.1?
Power delivery over type-C is the result of a strictly negotiated contract between a port pair. It must function independently of the OS. USB Power Delivery is not a USB alternate mode (alt-mode); however, it does support the entry and exit of alt-modes such as Thunderbolt 4 and DisplayPort.

Power delivery must function even if the host machine is in a mechanically off state. Finally, power delivery over Type-C is not a USB alternate mode. The specification is independent of protocols such as DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. However, PD does help negotiate the entry and exit from these alt modes.

Revision 3.1 introduces the extended power range (EPR). Access to the EPR requires an additional power delivery contract beyond the previously negotiated standard power range (SPR) contract. Access to the EPR requires a source, sink, and cable rated for these higher voltages. Failure to communicate support for PD 3.1 will limit the system to the SPR.

Thunderbolt 3 becomes public domain
Thunderbolt 3 is the connection-based tunneling architecture with a proprietary specification. Thunderbolt 3 offers impressive performance per marketing briefs, but the user experience is greatly dependent on the host machine implementation.

How Thunderbolt 3 evolved:

  • In March 2017, the Thunderbolt controller was integrated into the Intel CPU, making the Thunderbolt specification available under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license.
  • By January 2019, the Ice Lake mobile processor was the first CPU to integrate the Thunderbolt 3 controller.
  • In March 2019, Intel contributed the Thunderbolt specification to the USB-IF and in August 2019, V 1.0 of the USB4 specification was released.

Thunderbolt 4
USB4 is the foundation of Thunderbolt 4. TBT4 is a superset of the USB4 specification which Intel will certify.

Why cables matter
TBT4 cables provide SPR, offering compliance to USB4 and backward compatibility to TBT3. Cables can also be uniquely used to extend power range and come with logo and branding options for personalization.

Summing it up
Flexible working should not result in the neglect of workspace standards – investments in tech accessories is a simple but often overlooked wellbeing factor. Choosing to buy quality products that are built to last can help protect our planet and our pockets.