Introduction and history of USB Type-C

The European Commission has proposed a legislative proposal in September 2021 to make Type-C a universal charger for mobile smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld game consoles. To date, Type-C has been used in many applications, such as mobile devices (smartphones and wearables), PCs (including monitors), accessories (hubs, adapters, and mobile power), storage devices (SSDs, HDDs), home entertainment (set-top boxes and gaming consoles), smart homes (voice assistants and routers), and outdoor mobility devices (drones and sports cameras).

More and more new devices are expected to adopt Type-C as their single I/O port, including AR/VR, TVs (8K/4K), office equipment like business machines and projectors, transportation carriers (such as cars, motorcycles, and bicycles), and even wall sockets around homes and utilities.

The global Type-C market is expected to be worth $6.165 billion by 2023, with a projected growth rate of 15.97% over the next six years. The current standard specification for Type-C (USB-C) requires a 20Gbps transmission speed and a 100W power supply.

For higher functional requirements, the USB-IF has released the USB4 Gen3 standard (40Gbps and 240W 5A/48V), and starting in 2021, Intel will be recognizing a limited number of connectors and manufacturers with Thunderbolt 4 certification. At the same time, CPUs such as Intel Tiger Lake, Apple M1, and AMD Ryzen 6000 have been launched and all support USB4 Type-C.

USB4 Type-C
USB4 Type-C

USB Type-C Technology History

1, USB 1.0

The transmission speed of USB 1.0 is only 1.5 Mb/s. However, technical staff made great efforts, resulting in an upgraded version of USB 1.1 in 1998, which significantly enhanced the speed to 12 Mb/s. Specifically, USB 1.1 boasts a high-speed transmission rate of 12 Mbps, which amounts to a transmission rate of 1.5 MB/s. This method of high-speed transmission can achieve 12 MB/s.

2, USB 2.0

The transmission rate of USB 2.0 reaches 480Mbps, which is equivalent to 60MB/s. The driver for USB 2.0 can operate with USB 1.1, making it compatible with the latter.

For our R&D engineers, the main difficulties in designing and developing USB 2.0 hardware interface products are mastering the complexity of the USB 2.0 protocol, developing their USB device drivers, and understanding corresponding ARM, FPGA, Linux, and other programming languages.

3, USB 3.0

USB 3.0 is capable of achieving a maximum transfer rate of 5.0Gbps under optimal conditions, but in reality, it can only reach about 80% of that value. This is still equivalent to 10 times the transfer rate value of USB 2.0, which is a significant improvement. To achieve this, USB 3.0 employs 8b/10b coding in its physical layer, which sets a limit on the transfer rate at 4Gbps in practical environments. Despite this limit, USB 3.0 still offers a substantially faster transfer rate than USB 2.0.

4, USB 4.0

The USB 4.0 protocol was released in 2019. In terms of hardware interface, the latest generation of USB 4.0 adopts the Type-C hardware interface. This is essentially the use of Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology, which also supports the USB standard and is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2, USB 3.1, and USB 2.0 protocols. With a variety of mobile devices moving towards the thin and light, portable direction, coupled with USB 4.0’s use of the Type-C interface, the future direction of device interface selection will be unified using the USB 4.0 protocol and Type-C interface. USB has developed for over 20 years, from the initial USB 1.0 with 1.5Mbps to today’s USB 4.0, which has a speed of 40Gbps.

On September 1, 2022, the USB-IF website was updated to announce the release of USB4 2.0, which is the next-generation data interface specification. This new specification supports data rates up to 80Gbps, which surpasses Thunderbolt 4. Moreover, the USB4 2.0 standard comes with excellent backward compatibility with USB4, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.x, USB 2.0, and even with the earlier protocols. Thus, the new standard provides users with faster data transfer speed, greater convenience and versatility, and a seamless experience with various devices.

USB Type-C interface definition

Type-c interface definition
Type-c interface definition

History of USB Type-C SuperSpeed

RevisionPackage Logo
USB 3.1 (Gen1), USB 3.2(Gen 1)USB 5Gbps
USB 3.1 (Gen2), USB 3.2(Gen2)USB 10Gbps
USB3.2 (Gen 2 x 2)USB 20Gbps
USB4 1.0USB 40Gbps
USB4 2.0USB 80Gbps

A small look at the development of USB Type-C

In the era of rapid technological progress, USB has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, offering great convenience. Whether we still use USB 3.0 or the phased-out USB 2.0, they both fulfil people’s ever-changing needs. Those who use USB to transfer data, whether generated from work-related tasks, or recording videos and photographs, can witness the development of technology.

In today’s world, humans produce as much as 59 ZB of data per year. Type-C was created to reduce the time we spend transferring large files, ultimately giving us more time to process the information that is important to us. Unfortunately, due to the vast amount of information available online, it often contains loads of irrelevant data that causes trouble when selecting relevant information. This issue also increases the time cost of data selection.