USB 3.1 and Type C

What is USB?

USB is a widely used standard for connecting computing and mobile devices, commonly for attaching peripherals and connectivity for data transfer. Another major use of USB is charging mobile devices. USB has gone through major revisions since 1995, adding more speed and power along the way. The latest standard, USB 3.1, was released in December 2014. USB 3.1 has a substantial increase in data transfer speeds, power delivery, and flexibility.

What are the benefits of USB 3.1?

USB 3.1 delivers faster transfer rates of up to 10Gbps, twice as much as USB 3.0. The USB 3.1 protocol also uses less overhead and is more efficient. Another area of improvement is power. While USB 3 is limited to 5V 1.8A, USB 3.1 supports multiple modes: 5V 2A, 12V 5A, and 20V 5A. A much wider range of peripherals can be powered from the USB 3.1 port, and faster charging is possible.

With USB 3.1, a new connector was introduced. This is the type C connector as pictured. The connector is slim, measuring 8.4mm by 2.6mm. It can be used for both desktop computers and mobile devices, and is rated for 10,000 cycles. New to USB is that this connector type has reversible plug orientation. The cable will function perfectly fine no matter if it is oriented up or down. The user does not have to worry about plugging in the cable the right way. Furthermore, the port is also birectional, meaning the same C connector can be used on both the host and the peripheral. The bidirectionality also applies to charging. Two devices connected by a Type C cable can charge in either direction, based on negotiation between the devices. Because the same connector is used on both sides, fewer cable types are needed for connecting USB 3.1 devices. Type C USB makes things much simpler for the user.

Backwards compatibility

USB 3.1 is backwards-compatible with USB 2.0 and 3.0. Older devices can be used on a 3.1 port with the right cable or adapter.

Alternate mode

USB 3.1 was defined so that its cables could be used for alternate protocals, such as Displayport over USB. For the first time, USB can be used as a display cable. One application is to allow mobile devices to play on large screen monitors.


PI Manufacturing has a growing array of USB 3.1 products, ready to meet the demands of this new standard. We will carry many varieties of USB 3.1 type C connectors, used on Macbooks, cell phones, portable hard drives, motherboards, and other devices. Take advantage of the latest USB standard with our new lineup of USB 3.1 products.

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