USB-C levels up and powers up to deliver 240W in upgraded power delivery spec

One charger to rule them all … eventually, maybe


The USB Promoter Group has announced the completion of USB Power Delivery Specification Revision 3.1.

Wake up! This is no mere standards document, because this one improves USB-C’s power-carrying capacity from 100W to 240W, where implemented.

“With the new capabilities of USB Power Delivery 3.1, we now enable higher power products such as larger notebook PCs to shift from traditional power connectors to USB Type-C,” said Brad Saunders, chair of the USB Promoter Group in its announcement [PDF] of the new spec.

“We also anticipate a wider range of product application developers outside of the traditional USB ecosystem to now consider standardizing on USB Type-C with USB PD power their power needs.”

If you fancy getting into the weeds with this stuff, you can find the 744-page USB Power Delivery Specification here and the 400-plus pages of the USB-C spec version 2.1, updated to match the PD Spec, here.

But the most important bit is in the Promoter Group’s canned statement, in which Matteo Lo-Presti, an executive veep at STMicroelectronics, mentioned “the market’s need for a higher-power, truly universal bus connector … to anticipate customer requirements, potentially creating new markets for USB Power Delivery.”

Lo-Presti is essentially saying that One Charger To Rule Them All is a desirable thing. Saunders’ mention of “larger notebooks” shows why: today thin and light laptops can easily cope with power carried over USB-C, but gaming laptops need a brick of their own. PC-makers would love to offer one USB-power brick and toss it into every box they ship.

Or don’t ship. Some phone-makers have already started to make chargers an optional extra with new smartphones on the assumption you’ve already got a drawer-full and don’t need a new one.

The European Union has some influence here, too, as it has made USB-C the charging standard inside its bloc because it wants chargers to be used for years instead of ending up as e-waste.

We’re not home and hosed with 240W over USB-C, as the new specs call for cables to carry labels mentioning their carrying capacity and that means not every cheapo bit of kit you buy at a convenience store will do the job. ®


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