This article compares the USB PD 3.1 vs 3.0 to understand the new charging standard better.
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Also Read: List of the Best monitors with Power Delivery (USB PD Charging)
Technological advancement is seen each year in different domains, including device chargers. The specialized advances in the manufacturing of chargers are enormous, and the appreciation goes to the widespread adoption of the latest PD (Power Delivery) 3.1 standards and GaN chips.
Related: Best USB C Power Banks with PD (Power Delivery)
The following article familiarizes you with how chargers have been developed, an overview of PD 3.1, and more.
Table of Contents
28V, 36V, and 48V fixed voltages enable up to 140W, 180W and 240W power levels
PPS = Programmable Power Supply
USB Power Delivery (USB PD) Revision 3.1 specification, a significant update to boost delivering up to 240W of power over the USB Type-C® cable and connector.
Before this update, USB PD was limited to 100W via a solution based on 20V using USB Type-C cables rated at 5A.
The USB Type-C specification has also been updated with Release 2.1 to define 240W cable requirements. The updated USB PD protocol and power supply definition extend the applicability of USB PD to many applications where 100W wasn’t adequate.
Given the variable nature of USB PD charging and the wide range of battery capacities, it’s impossible to give a precise speed for the standard.
small USB devices
with certified cable only
USB (Universal Serial Bus) is the standard for cables, ports, and connections with which many people are acquainted. Some people are not aware that an organization named the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) sets the standards for all USB devices. Note that USB-IF discretely sets standards for data transfer speeds and charging.
Let’s first get an overview of different USB standards:
It is the original USB connector that is the most used one. These connectors are supported in all USB versions like USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and USB 1.1. Typically, USB-Type A is found in host devices like game consoles, desktop computers, and media players.
USB Type-B connectors are located at the other end of a typical USB cable that plugs into a peripheral device like a printer, hard drive, or smartphone.
It is a miniaturized version of the USB interface developed to connect mobile devices like mp3 players, smartphones, photo printers, digital cameras, and GPS devices.
Referred to as Type-C, it is a 24-pin USB connector system equipped with a rotationally symmetrical connector. Apple’s 12-inch Macbook was the first notebook to be implemented with Type-C.
USB devices were formerly proposed as a link for connecting peripheral devices like mice and keyboards. Initially, USB connections delivered extremely little power.
The first charging protocol released by USB-IF was Battery Charging. However, it was only capable of charging 25W after two revisions were executed.
But, USB-IF has substituted Battery Charging with USB Power Delivery. These types of cables and chargers more compatible now. The majority of the chargers currently available on the market are PD 2.0 and PD 3.0. This standard provides a maximum of 100W.
This is sufficient for nearly all electronic devices. In 2021, USB-IF published the PD 3.1 specifications. The release of this specification proved to be a gamer-changer.
The present article will emphasize three leading innovations implemented due to the latest PD 3.1 updated specifications. This specification provides improvements in terms of higher voltages, more efficient charging, and reverse charging.
USB Power Delivery (briefly PD) is a single charging standard used across all USB devices. Commonly, every device that is charged by USB would have its own adapter.
However, this is not the case anymore. A universal USB PD can power a broad range of devices.
The USB PD 3.1 specification was recently announced and is known to be the newest update capable of providing amazing power of up to 240W through USB Type-C. This standard utilizes intelligent device negotiation of 5A and variable voltage up to 48V @ 240W.
Note that you can’t use any obsolete USB-C cable or charger to deliver 240W of power. The reason is the new specification bumps up the voltage to 48V, and the existing rating sticks to the same 5A.
In May 2021, the latest version, i.e., USB PD 3.1 (Power Delivery Specification Revision 3.1), was announced. It will take time to see chargers and devices supporting this latest specification in the market. However, the existing USB PD Revision 3.0 supports up to 100W power delivery.
The most significant and most appealing change brought with the launch of PD 3.1 is that it can charge at 240W. In that case, there would be fixed voltages that would supply 140W, 180W, and 240W.
It suggests that more high-end devices like gaming laptops will come incorporated with USB-C ports for charging.
Conventionally, if you lose a laptop that uses a proprietary charger, frustration arises when trying to substitute it. But with the release of PD 3.1, this will not be a hassle anymore.
The aspect that might be overlooked is that power delivery might soon be bidirectional. Did you face an issue wherein you had a laptop with a full battery but a cellphone operating on empty?
Soon you will be able to charge a phone with your computer. Note that setting a device with another device is not perfect, and a power bank is perhaps a better option. But, this can be extremely useful in an emergency.
The declaration of USB-IF regarding PD 3.1 depicts their emphasis on supplying your devices with the precise wattage they require without any waste.
These new specifications assure to make the multiple charging devices easier than before. Currently, multi-port chargers come with max wattages allocated to each port when multiple ports are being used. The same can influence the fast charging ability of a device.
There are plenty of devices that need more power than that offered by the older version of the USB PD protocol (100W). Although a 100W power supply is far more than any smartphone will need, the 100W limit is insufficient for the latest docking stations, gaming laptops, docking stations, and more.
USB Type-C helps charge laser printers, power e-bikes, and power garden tools. But the 100W capability is not sufficient for these applications.
The USB-C with 240W power upgrade allows you to plug in such high-power demanding devices like LED TVs and 4K monitors. So, you can remove lots of proprietary chargers and cables from your drawer.
The latest USB PD 3.1 protocol provides increased power levels up to 240W. Apart from that, it offers the following features:
For example, you use UGREEN 100W GaN Charger equipped with a USB-A port and three USB-C ports. In this case, you are charging three devices through the USB-C ports.
Note that the first port supplies 45W, the second port will supply 30W, and the third port would supply 22.5W for a total of 97.5W.
Presently, this is the way adopted by various companies that let chargers organize power distribution. The corresponding setup will be helpful for a Google Pixel, MacBook Air, and iPhone.
However, what to do if you wish to charge two iPhones and utilize the additional wattage to power a larger computer? It is impossible right now, but PD 3.1 must develop a solution for this.
Occasionally, it isn’t easy to contemplate how innovations in technology space can influence our lives. So, let’s look at a few examples that justify how PD 3.1 will modify charging.
The majority of laptops don’t require a power of more than 100W. But many laptops are designed keeping in mind video games and graphic design.
Currently, the most expensive laptops on the market utilize an AC-DC adapter to charge, and the corresponding chargers boast a maximum output of 240W. The latest 16-inch MacBook Pro contains a 140W charging brick; however, it chargers at 100W.
Therefore, the new standards would make using the USB-C chargers to charge the next-gen gaming laptops.
As per GSMArena, the upcoming Snapdragon chipset and Qualcomm QuickCharge would permit cell phones to charge 150W. With its fast charging technology, OPPO is also constantly pushing the boundaries. The barrier faced is that charging at high voltages can damage a battery.
Still, PD 3.1 offers the possibility of faster charging. This is an area that cell phone companies consider room for improvement.
With the rise in demands for power and performance, the capabilities of USB chargers also increase. Soon you would perceive an increase in the number of chargers potent of delivering more than 100W.
Such chargers can supply power to multiple computers and prove helpful in working in small groups. Furthermore, such multi-port chargers must be capable of providing power to smaller devices like tablets and phones.
Note: PD 3.1 is specifically designed to work with the existing standard. This implies that all the products supporting new specifications will provide backward compatibility.
Moreover, you can run older cables with new 3.1 PD ports on the lower power levels and vice versa.
With the introduction of this new specification, many possibilities get unlocked for devices that can use USB cables to charge.
Since higher powers are available, new devices based on the metaverse will likely be developed. Moreover, new appliances for VR, AR, design, and any number of disciplines could be enhanced by the capability to charge and convey information simultaneously.
USB-IF launched the new specifications for PD 3.1 in 2021. Does the question now arise why we haven’t seen any prominent products that support 240W charging?
There are plenty of engineering obstacles that must be solved, and new specifications are simply the commencement of the development process.
It is illogic to produce a 240W charging cable if all the PCs that use a Type-C charging port can also charge at 65W or 100W. With the production of high-performance computers supporting USB charging, new charging accessories will be created to supplement them.
The USB IF intends to exclude the 5A/20V cables ultimately. This new specification targets developing the industry to have ERP-capable products.
All the latest products supporting PD 3.1 protocol specifications will be visually distinguishable to allow users to purchase 240W cables and chargers easily.
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