1. A major update on the USB PD fast charging standard
Recently, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard organization USB-IF announced that it will revise the USB PD protocol 3.1 specification, in order to increase the maximum power of USB Type-C from 100W (20V, 5A) to 240W (48V, 5A).
At the same time, USB Type-C specification has also been updated to version 2.1 to define the requirements for 240W cable and meet the application requirements of greater charging power. This is a major revision made by the USB standards organization to the mechatronic characteristics of the USB-C interface since the USB Type-C 2.0 specification in August 2019.
In the USB Type-C cable and interface standard v2.1 updated by the USB-IF organization, the charging power can reach up to 240W and is named as Extended Power Range, which is more than the double of current maximum 100W. However, in order to support 240W PD, you need a new USB-C cable.
The new USB PD protocol stipulates a more rigid charging protocol, especially for products with a power range of 100 ~ 240W (relatively lower power).
New features of USB PD protocol 3.1 specification:
1) Three new fixed voltages are added:
28V voltage, used for products that is more than 100W;
36V voltage, used for products that is more than 140W
48V voltage, used for products that is more than 180W
And the previously defined fixed voltages of 5V, 9V, 15V, and 20V.
2) A new adjustable voltage mode
Depends on the available power, it can range from 15V to one of the three maximum voltages (28V, 36V, or 48V).
2. Wide application range, everything can be charged
USB PD3.1 standard promotes the power industry to enter the era that “everything can be charged", making the application range of USB PD fast charging standard more and more extensive.
For example, for devices like gaming laptops and monitors, most of their charging voltages are under 20V. When they are applied with USB PD3.1 fast charging standard, you only need to add a voltage reduction circuit at the input end of the computer to meet the requirement of high-power charging that is above 100W.
For multi-string lithium-ion battery devices or devices that require high-voltage power supply, such as electric tools, electric bicycles, industrial power supplies, etc., due to the high-voltage characteristics of multi-string battery packs, you can directly adapt a proper voltage through the expand power range of USB PD3.1.
The USB PD3.1 standard further enhances the versatility of the USB PD fast charging standard. The voltage range and power range can cover notebooks, monitors, electric tools, industrial power supplies, servers and other products. Thus, it truly achieved the goal of "all things can be charged." At the same time, it also unified all USB Type-C interface. The best part of USB Type-C interface is that it has a slimmer design, faster transmission speed and stronger power transmission ability.
Thanks to the fact that USB Type-C interface has integrated many functions include data, power, video, audio, network, etc., it has been widely used on smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktop hosts, monitors and other smart hardware devices. It has also been applied on chargers, mobile hard drives, headsets, U disks, mobile power banks, data cables, cameras, shavers, and many other accessory products.
USB PD3.1 standard will further expand the application of the USB Type-C interface in the fields of displays, servers, electric tools, security POE power supplies, and DC motors.
3. QC fast charge and PD fast charge
At present, there are two mainstream fast charging, one is QC fast charging led by Qualcomm, and the other one is PD fast charging.
QC fast charge
Quick Charge™ (QC) is a fast charging technology developed by Qualcomm. As long as it is an Android phone equipped with Snapdragon system chip, it can use the fast charging technology. Except from supporting a variety of mobile phones that uses Snapdragon processor, it also supports some processors from other brands.
USB PD fast charge
It is a fast charging specification formulated by the USB-IF organization. This specification can achieve higher voltage and current, can deliver power up to 240W, and can freely change the direction of power delivery.
From the development history of the USB charging standard, you can see that before USB PD fast charging standard was released, most devices were charged through BC1.2 protocol, the charging power was only 7.5W, and its application was limited to mobile phones, digital cameras and other products. It usually takes 2-3 hours to complete charging even if it is used to charge a functional machine with a very small battery capacity.
Not until USB PD2.0 specification was released, was USB-C be specified as a standard interface, and a maximum fast charging power of 100W was realized. The application range has expanded from traditional mobile phones to smart phones, notebook computers, and some displays. But I have to admit that the 100W power I was proud of 7 years ago, has now become a shortcoming that restricts the development of USB PD fast charging.
With the release of USB PD3.1 standard, it not only raised the charging voltage standard to 48V, but also increases the output power to 240W, which greatly increased the application scope of USB PD fast charging standard.
At present, the maximum output power of USB-C is 100W. In the notebook industry, 100W is only enough for most of the thin and light notebooks. Although some high-performance gaming notebooks also support PD protocol, they can only be used for charging. 100W is far from meeting the power consumption of the graphics card + CPU, but after been upgraded to 240W, it can basically meet the charging needs of most notebooks. This means that in the future, you can meet the charging needs of mobile phones, tablets and notebooks with only one charger, which can greatly improve portability. Therefore, we predict that the popularization of the new Type-C standard will be accelerated. However, under the new specifications, users need new USB charging head and USB Type-C cable in order to achieve the 240W charging power. USB-IF stated that “all new EPR cables should have obvious signs at their appearance.” To reach the 240W standard, a USB Type-C cable needs to support voltage and current of 5A 50V. Therefore, the new standard will push the renewal of the supply chain in the entire charging field. We will pay close attention to the development of the new standard, and welcome everyone to follow us to get the latest power supply news.