The next gen USB cable simplifies connections

(Photo: USB Implementers Forum)USB Type-Cconnectors

Designated USB Type-C, this next gen device was made to replace today's mad mix of USB cables and to fix a number of its predecessors' notable disadvantages. The new hardware is expected to ship by year-end.

For one, Type-C USB jacks will be small enough for mobile phones. The cable will be reversible end-to-end so it doesn't matter which end you attach to your computer and which to your digital device. There won't be an upside-down when it's time to actually plug the cable.

Type-C makes an audible click when plugged in correctly. It's designed to accommodate future USB incarnations with higher data-transfer speeds. Type-C can be plugged and unplugged 10,000 times.

The new Universal Serial Bus design took just three months to complete. In December, the USB Implementers Forum, which oversees USB specifications, announced plans for a new USB cable and port.

"The specification is anticipated to be completed in July 2014. We could see products with the new cable by end of year," the USB IF told tech website, CNET.

One criticism of USBs is the incredibly large number of available connectors. The result is that users can't always find the connector they need. Another drawback is that today's cables often have different connectors at each end. Type-C cures all these ills, said the USB IF.

The USB prong measures 8.3x2.5mm. That's smaller than the plugs that fit into a PC's USB ports but larger than the 6.85x1.8mm of the micro-USB B-type widely used in mobile phones. Cable supported cable lengths will not change.

USBs effectively replaced a number of earlier interfaces such as serial and parallel ports, as well as separate power chargers for portable devices.

USB Type-C might not last that long, however. The USB IF is renewing an attempt to encourage wireless USB data transfer after last decade's effort failed.

Although the new wireless USB is being designed to reach into the gigabit-per-second range with 60GHz 802.11ad wireless networking, Type-C cables will support USB 3.1's 10Gbps rates.

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