USB-C, or USB Type-C, is a 24-pin connector (not a protocol) that supersedes previous USB connectors and can carry audio, video and other data, e.g., to drive multiple displays, to store a backup to an external drive. It can also provide and receive power, such as powering a laptop or a mobile phone. It is applied not only by USB technology, but also by other protocols, including Thunderbolt, PCIe, HDMI, DisplayPort, and others. It is extensible to support future standards.

USB-C
Pins of the USB-C connector
Type Digital audio / video / data / power – connector
Production history
Designer USB Implementers Forum
Designed 11 August 2014 (published)[1]
Superseded All earlier USB connectors (Type-A and -B, and its different sizes: Standard, Mini, and Micro)
DisplayPort
Mini DisplayPort
Lightning
General specifications
Pins 24
USB-C plug
USB-C (SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps) receptacle on an MSI laptop

Design for the USB-C connector was initially developed in 2012 by Apple Inc. and Intel.[2] Type-C Specification 1.0 was published by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) on August 11, 2014.[3] In July 2016, it was adopted by the IEC as "IEC 62680-1-3".[4]

USB-C attempts to be reversible and has 24 pins.[5][6] The designation "C" is to distinguish it from the various former USB connectors it replaced, all termed either Type-A or Type-B. Whereas earlier every USB cable had a host end A and a peripheral device end B, USB-C replaces both; a USB-C cable connects either way, and for older equipment a legacy cable has a Type-C plug at one end and either a Type-A (host) or a Type-B (peripheral device) plug at the other. The designation "C" refers only to the connector's physical configuration, or form factor, not to be confused with the connector's specific capabilities, such as Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort 2.0, or USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. Based on the protocols supported by both devices, host and peripheral device, a USB-C connection normally provides (much) higher signaling and therefore data rates than the superseded connectors.

A device with a Type-C connector does not necessarily implement any USB transfer protocol, USB Power Delivery, or any of the Alternate Modes: the Type-C connector is common to several technologies while mandating only a few of them.[7]

USB 3.2, released in September 2017, fully replaced the USB 3.1 specification. It preserves previously called USB 3.1 SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ data transfer modes and introduces two additional data transfer modes by newly applying two-lane operations, with signaling rates of 10 Gbit/s (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps; nominal data rate: 1.212 GB/s) and 20 Gbit/s (SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps; nominal data rate: 2.422 GB/s). They are only applicable with Full-Featured USB-C Fabrics (connectors and cables) on both ends.

USB4, released in 2019, is the first USB transfer protocol standard that is only available exclusively via USB-C Fabrics.

Ease of use edit

The USB-C standard attempts to simplify usage by specifying cables having identical plugs on both ends, which can be inserted without concern about orientation. When connecting two devices, the user can plug either end of the cable into either device. The plugs are flat, but will work if inserted right-side-up or upside-down.

The USB-C plugs have two-fold rotational symmetry because a plug may be inserted into a receptacle in either of two orientations. Electrically, USB-C plugs are not symmetric, as can be seen in the tables of pin layouts. Also the two ends of the USB-C are electrically different, as can be seen in the table of cable wiring. The illusion of symmetry results from how devices respond to the cable. Software makes the plugs and cables behave as though they are symmetric. According to the specifications, "Determination of this host-to-device relationship is accomplished through a Configuration Channel (CC) that is connected through the cable."[8]

The USB-C standard attempts to eliminate the need to have different cables for other communication technologies, such as Thunderbolt, PCIe, HDMI, DisplayPort, and more. USB-C cables can contain circuit boards and processors giving them much more capability than simple circuit connections.

Overview edit

USB-C cables interconnect hosts and peripheral devices, replacing various other electrical cables and connectors, including all earlier (legacy) USB connectors, HDMI connectors, DisplayPort ports, and 3.5 mm audio jacks.[9][10]

Name edit

USB Type-C and USB-C are trademarks of the USB Implementers Forum.[11]

Connectors edit

 
USB-C port on MacBook Pro (middle port)

The 24-pin double-sided connector is slightly larger than the micro-B connector, with a USB-C receptacle measuring 8.4 millimetres (0.33 in) wide, 2.6 millimetres (0.10 in) high, and 6.65 millimetres (0.262 in) deep.

Cables edit

USB 3.1 cables are considered full-featured USB-C cables. They are electronically marked cables that contain a chip with an ID function based on the configuration channel and vendor-defined messages (VDM) from the USB Power Delivery 2.0 specification. Cable length should not exceed 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) for Gen 1, and 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) for Gen 2.[12] The electronic ID chip provides information about product/vendor, cable connectors, USB signaling protocol (2.0, Gen 1, Gen 2), passive/active construction, use of VCONN power, available VBUS current, latency, RX/TX directionality, SOP controller mode, and hardware/firmware version.[7]

USB-C cables that do not have shielded SuperSpeed pairs, sideband use pins, or additional wires for power lines can have increased cable length, up to 4 metres (13 ft). These USB-C cables only support USB 2.0 (up to 480 Mbit/s) and do not support Alternate Modes. Active cables (those with built-in repeaters) can support SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (= USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 = USB 3.1 Gen 1 = USB 3.0) only over lengths up to 10 metres (33 ft).

All USB-C cables must be able to carry a minimum of 3 A current (at 5 V, for 15 W) but some can carry 5 A current (at 20 V, for 100 W).[13] USB-C to USB-C cables supporting 5 A current must contain e-marker chips (also marketed as E-Mark chips) programmed to identify the cable and its current capabilities. USB charging ports should be clearly marked with power capability.[14]

Full-featured USB-C cables that implement USB 3.1 Gen 2 can provide 10 Gbit/s (full duplex) signalling rate. They are marked with a SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps (previously marketed as SuperSpeed+) logo. There are also cables which can support only USB 2.0 with a nominal data rate of 480 Mbit/s (with maximal effective data rate of ~40MB/s). The USB Implementers Forum certifies valid cables so they can be marked accordingly and users can distinguish them from non-compliant products.[15]

Hosts and peripheral devices edit

For any two pieces of equipment connecting over USB, one is a host (with a downstream-facing port, DFP) and the other is a peripheral device (with an upstream-facing port, UFP). Some products, such as mobile phones, can take either role, whichever is opposite that of the connected equipment. Such equipment is said to have Dual-Role-Data (DRD) capability, which was known as USB On-The-Go in the previous specification.[16] With USB-C, when two such devices are connected, the roles are first randomly assigned, but a swap can be commanded from either end, although there are optional path and role detection methods that would allow equipment to select a preference for a specific role. Furthermore, Dual-Role equipment that implements USB Power Delivery may swap data and power roles independently using the Data Role Swap or Power Role Swap processes. This allows for charge-through hub or docking station applications such as a portable computer acting as a host to connect to peripherals but being powered by the dock, or a computer being powered by a display, through a single USB-C cable.[7]

USB-C devices may optionally provide or consume bus power currents of 1.5 A and 3.0 A (at 5 V) in addition to baseline bus power provision; power sources can either advertise increased USB current through the configuration channel or implement the full USB Power Delivery specification using both the BMC-coded configuration line and the legacy BFSK-coded VBUS line.[7][14]

All older USB connectors (all Type-A and Type-B) are designated legacy. Connecting legacy and modern, USB-C equipment requires either a legacy cable assembly (a cable with any Type-A or Type-B plug on one end and a Type-C plug on the other) or, in very specific cases, a legacy adapter assembly.

An older device can connect to a modern (USB-C) host by using a legacy cable, with a Standard-B, Mini-B, or Micro-B plug on the device end and a USB-C plug on the other. Similarly, a modern device can connect to a legacy host by using a legacy cable with a USB-C plug on the device end and a Standard-A plug on the host end. Legacy adapters with USB-C receptacles are "not defined or allowed" by the specification because they can create "many invalid and potentially unsafe" cable combinations (being any cable assembly with two A ends or two B ends). However, exactly two types of adapter with USB-C plugs are defined: one with a Standard-A receptacle (for connecting a legacy device (such as a flash drive—not a cable) to a modern host, and supporting up to USB 3.1), and one with a Micro-B receptacle (for connecting a modern device to a legacy host, and supporting up to USB 2.0).[17]

Non-USB modes edit

Audio adapter accessory mode edit

A device with a USB-C port may support analog headsets through an audio adapter with a 3.5 mm jack, providing three analog audio channels (left and right output and microphone). The audio adapter may optionally include a USB-C charge-through port to allow 500 mA device charging. The engineering specification states that an analog headset shall not use a USB-C plug instead of a 3.5 mm plug. In other words, headsets with a USB-C plug should always support digital audio (and optionally the accessory mode).[18]

Analog signals use the USB 2.0 differential pairs (Dp and Dn for Right and Left) and the two side-band use pairs for Mic and GND. The presence of the audio accessory is signaled through the configuration channel and VCONN.

Alternate modes edit

An Alternate Mode dedicates some of the physical wires in a USB-C cable for direct device-to-host transmission using non-USB data protocols, such as DisplayPort or Thunderbolt. The four high-speed lanes, two side-band pins, and (for dock, detachable device and permanent-cable applications only) five additional pins can be used for Alternate Mode transmission. The modes are configured using vendor-defined messages (VDM) through the configuration channel.

Specifications edit

USB Type-C cable and connector specifications edit

The USB Type-C specification 1.0 was published by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and was finalized in August 2014.[10]

It defines requirements for cables and connectors.

  • Rev 1.1 was published 2015-04-03[19]
  • Rev 1.2 was published 2016-03-25[20]
  • Rev 1.3 was published 2017-07-14[21]
  • Rev 1.4 was published 2019-03-29[21]
  • Rev 2.0 was published 2019-08-29[22]
  • Rev 2.1 was published 2021-05-25 (USB PD - Extended Power Range - 48 V - 5 A - 240 W)[23]
  • Rev 2.2 was published 2022-10-18, primarily for enabling USB4 Version 2.0 (80 Gbps) over USB Type-C connectors and cables.[17]
  • Rev 2.3 was published 2023-10-31.

Adoption as IEC specification:

  • IEC 62680-1-3:2016 (2016-08-17, edition 1.0) "Universal serial bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-3: Universal Serial Bus interfaces – Common components – USB Type-C cable and connector specification"[24]
  • IEC 62680-1-3:2017 (2017-09-25, edition 2.0) "Universal serial bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-3: Common components – USB Type-C Cable and Connector Specification"[25]
  • IEC 62680-1-3:2018 (2018-05-24, edition 3.0) "Universal serial bus interfaces for data and power – Part 1-3: Common components – USB Type-C Cable and Connector Specification"[26]

Receptacles edit

 
Type-C receptacle pinout (end-on view)

The receptacle features four power and four ground pins, two differential pairs (connected together on devices) for legacy USB 2.0 high-speed data, four shielded differential pairs for Enhanced SuperSpeed data (two transmit and two receive pairs), two Sideband Use (SBU) pins, and two Configuration Channel (CC) pins.

Type-C receptacle A pin layout
Pin Name Description
A1 GND Ground return
A2 SSTXp1 ("TX1+") SuperSpeed differential pair #1, transmit, positive
A3 SSTXn1 ("TX1-") SuperSpeed differential pair #1, transmit, negative
A4 VBUS Bus power
A5 CC1 Configuration channel
A6 D+ USB 2.0 differential pair, position 1, positive
A7 D- USB 2.0 differential pair, position 1, negative
A8 SBU1 Sideband use (SBU)
A9 VBUS Bus power
A10 SSRXn2 ("RX2-") SuperSpeed differential pair #4, receive, negative
A11 SSRXp2 ("RX2+") SuperSpeed differential pair #4, receive, positive
A12 GND Ground return
Type-C receptacle B pin layout
Pin Name Description
B12 GND Ground return
B11 SSRXp1 ("RX1+") SuperSpeed differential pair #2, receive, positive
B10 SSRXn1 ("RX1-") SuperSpeed differential pair #2, receive, negative
B9 VBUS Bus power
B8 SBU2 Sideband use (SBU)
B7 D- USB 2.0 differential pair, position 2, negative[a]
B6 D+ USB 2.0 differential pair, position 2, positive[a]
B5 CC2 Configuration channel
B4 VBUS Bus power
B3 SSTXn2 ("TX2-") SuperSpeed differential pair #3, transmit, negative
B2 SSTXp2 ("TX2+") SuperSpeed differential pair #3, transmit, positive
B1 GND Ground return
  1. ^ a b There is only a single non-SuperSpeed differential pair in the cable. This pin is not connected in the plug/cable.

Plugs edit

 
Type-C plug pinout (end-on view)

The plug has only one USB 2.0 high-speed differential pair, and one of the CC pins (CC2) is replaced by VCONN, to power optional electronics in the cable, and the other is used to actually carry the Configuration Channel (CC) signals. These signals are used to determine the orientation of the cable, as well as to carry USB Power Delivery communications.

Cables edit

Although plugs have 24 pins, cables have only 18 wires. In the following table, the "No." column shows the wire number.

Full-Featured USB 3.2 and 2.0 Type-C cable wiring
Plug 1, USB Type-C USB Type-C cable Plug 2, USB Type-C
Pin Name Wire color No. Name Description 2.0[a] Pin Name
Shell Shield Braid Braid Shield Cable external braid   Shell Shield
A1, B12,
B1, A12
GND Tin-plated 1 GND_PWRrt1 Ground for power return   A1, B12,
B1, A12
GND
16 GND_PWRrt2  
A4, B9,
B4, A9
VBUS Red 2 PWR_VBUS1 VBUS power   A4, B9,
B4, A9
VBUS
17 PWR_VBUS2  
B5 VCONN Yellow 18 PWR_VCONN VCONN power, for powered cables[b]   B5 VCONN
A5 CC Blue 3 CC Configuration channel   A5 CC
A6 D+ Green 4 UTP_Dp[c] Unshielded twisted pair, positive   A6 D+
A7 D- White 5 UTP_Dn[c] Unshielded twisted pair, negative   A7 D-
A8 SBU1 Red 14 SBU_A Sideband use A   B8 SBU2
B8 SBU2 Black 15 SBU_B Sideband use B   A8 SBU1
A2 SSTXp1 Yellow[d] 6 SDPp1 Shielded differential pair #1, positive   B11 SSRXp1
A3 SSTXn1 Brown[d] 7 SDPn1 Shielded differential pair #1, negative   B10 SSRXn1
B11 SSRXp1 Green[d] 8 SDPp2 Shielded differential pair #2, positive   A2 SSTXp1
B10 SSRXn1 Orange[d] 9 SDPn2 Shielded differential pair #2, negative   A3 SSTXn1
B2 SSTXp2 White[d] 10 SDPp3 Shielded differential pair #3, positive   A11 SSRXp2
B3 SSTXn2 Black[d] 11 SDPn3 Shielded differential pair #3, negative   A10 SSRXn2
A11 SSRXp2 Red[d] 12 SDPp4 Shielded differential pair #4, positive   B2 SSTXp2
A10 SSRXn2 Blue[d] 13 SDPn4 Shielded differential pair #4, negative   B3 SSTXn2
  1. ^ USB 2.0 Type-C cables do not include wires for SuperSpeed or sideband use.
  2. ^ VCONN must not traverse end-to-end through the cable. Some isolation method must be used.
  3. ^ a b There is only a single differential pair for non-SuperSpeed data in the cable, which is connected to A6 and A7. Contacts B6 and B7 should not be present in the plug.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Wire colors for differential pairs are not mandated.

Related USB-IF specifications edit

USB Type-C Locking Connector Specification
The USB Type-C Locking Connector Specification was published 2016-03-09. It defines the mechanical requirements for USB-C plug connectors and the guidelines for the USB-C receptacle mounting configuration to provide a standardized screw lock mechanism for USB-C connectors and cables.[27]
USB Type-C Port Controller Interface Specification
The USB Type-C Port Controller Interface Specification was published 2017-10-01. It defines a common interface from a USB-C Port Manager to a simple USB-C Port Controller.[28]
USB Type-C Authentication Specification
Adopted as IEC specification: IEC 62680-1-4:2018 (2018-04-10) "Universal Serial Bus interfaces for data and power - Part 1-4: Common components - USB Type-C Authentication Specification"[29]
USB 2.0 Billboard Device Class Specification
USB 2.0 Billboard Device Class is defined to communicate the details of supported Alternate Modes to the computer host OS. It provides user readable strings with product description and user support information. Billboard messages can be used to identify incompatible connections made by users. They optionally appear to negotiate multiple Alternate Modes and must appear when negotiation fails between the host (source) and device (sink).
USB Audio Device Class 3.0 Specification
USB Audio Device Class 3.0 defines powered digital audio headsets with a USB-C plug.[7] The standard supports the transfer of both digital and analog audio signals over the USB port.[30]
USB Power Delivery Specification
While it is not necessary for USB-C compliant devices to implement USB Power Delivery, for USB-C DRP/DRD (Dual-Role-Power/Data) ports, USB Power Delivery introduces commands for altering a port's power or data role after the roles have been established when a connection is made.[31]
USB 3.2 Specification
USB 3.2, released in September 2017, replaces the USB 3.1 standard. It preserves existing USB 3.1 SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ data modes and introduces two new SuperSpeed+ transfer modes over the USB-C connector using two-lane operation, doubling the data rates to 10 and 20 Gbit/s (1 and ~2.4 GB/s). USB 3.2 is only supported by USB-C, making micro-USB connectors obsolete.
USB4 Specification
The USB4 specification released in 2019 is the first USB data transfer specification to exclusively use the Type-C connector.

Alternate Mode partner specifications edit

As of 2018, five system-defined Alternate Mode partner specifications exist. Additionally, vendors may support proprietary modes for use in dock solutions. Alternate Modes are optional; Type-C features and devices are not required to support any specific Alternate Mode. The USB Implementers Forum is working with its Alternate Mode partners to make sure that ports are properly labelled with respective logos.[32]

List of Alternate Mode partner specifications
Logo Name Date Protocol Status
  Thunderbolt Alternate Mode Announced in June 2015[33] USB-C is the native (and only) connector for Thunderbolt 3 and later

Thunderbolt 3 (also carries 4× PCI Express 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.1 Gen 2),[33][34][35][36]
Thunderbolt 4 (also carries 4× PCI Express 3.0, DisplayPort 2.0, USB4),
Thunderbolt 5 (also carries 4× PCI Express 4.0, DisplayPort 2.1, USB4)
Current
  DisplayPort Alternate Mode Published in September 2014 DisplayPort 1.2, DisplayPort 1.4,[37][38] DisplayPort 2.0[39] Current
  Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) Alternate Mode Announced in November 2014[40] MHL 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and superMHL 1.0[41][42][43][44] Current
  HDMI Alternate Mode Announced in September 2016[45] HDMI 1.4b[46][47][48][49] Not being updated
VirtualLink Alternate Mode Announced in July 2018[50] VirtualLink 1.0[51] Abandoned

Other protocols like Ethernet[52] have been proposed, although Thunderbolt 3 and later are also capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking.[53]

All Thunderbolt 3 controllers support both Thunderbolt Alternate Mode and DisplayPort Alternate Mode.[54] Because Thunderbolt can encapsulate DisplayPort data, every Thunderbolt controller can either output DisplayPort signals directly over DisplayPort Alternative Mode or encapsulated within Thunderbolt in Thunderbolt Alternate Mode. Low-cost peripherals mostly connect via DisplayPort Alternate Mode while some docking stations tunnel DisplayPort over Thunderbolt.[55]

DisplayPort Alternate Mode 2.0: DisplayPort 2.0 can run directly over USB-C alongside USB4. DisplayPort 2.0 can support 8K resolution at 60 Hz with HDR10 color and can use up to 80 Gbps, which is double the amount available to USB data.[56]

The USB SuperSpeed protocol is similar to DisplayPort and PCIe/Thunderbolt, in using packetized data transmitted over differential LVDS lanes with embedded clock using comparable bit rates, so these Alternate Modes are easier to implement in the chipset.[37]

Alternate Mode hosts and sinks can be connected with either regular Full-Featured Type-C cables, or with converter cables or adapters:

USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-C Full-Featured cable
DisplayPort, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), HDMI and Thunderbolt (20 Gbit/s, or 40 Gbit/s with cable length up to 0.5 m[citation needed]) Alternate Mode Type-C ports can be interconnected with standard passive Full-Featured USB Type-C cables. These cables are only marked with standard "trident" SuperSpeed USB logo (for Gen 1 cables) or the SuperSpeed+ USB 10 Gbit/s logo (for Gen 2 cables) on both ends.[57] Cable length should be 2.0 m or less for Gen 1 and 1.0 m or less for Gen 2.
Thunderbolt Type-C to Type-C active cable
Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbit/s) Alternate Mode with cables longer than 0.8 m requires active Type-C cables that are certified and electronically marked for high-speed Thunderbolt 3 transmission, similarly to high-power 5 A cables.[33][36] These cables are marked with a Thunderbolt logo on both ends. They do not support USB 3 backwards compatibility, only USB 2 or Thunderbolt. Cables can be marked for both Thunderbolt and 5 A power delivery at the same time.[58]

Active cables and adapters contain powered electronics to allow for longer cables or to perform protocol conversion. The adapters for video Alternate Modes may allow conversion from native video stream to other video interface standards (e.g., DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA or DVI).

Using Full-Featured Type-C cables for Alternate Mode connections provides some benefits. Alternate Mode does not employ USB 2.0 lanes and the configuration channel lane, so USB 2.0 and USB Power Delivery protocols are always available. In addition, DisplayPort and MHL Alternate Modes can transmit on one, two, or four SuperSpeed lanes, so two of the remaining lanes may be used to simultaneously transmit USB 3.1 data.[59]

Alternate Mode protocol support matrix for Type-C cables and adapters
Mode USB 3.1 Type-C cable[a] Adapter cable or adapter Construction
USB[b] DisplayPort Thunderbolt superMHL HDMI HDMI DVI-D Component video
3.1 1.2 1.4 20 Gbit/s 40 Gbit/s 1.4b 1.4b 2.0b Single-link Dual-link (YPbPr, VGA/DVI-A)
DisplayPort Yes Yes Does not appear No Passive
Does not appear Optional Yes Yes Yes Active
Thunderbolt Yes[c] Yes[c] Yes Yes[d] Does not appear No Passive
Does not appear Optional Optional Yes Yes Yes Yes Active
MHL Yes Does not appear Yes Does not appear Yes No Yes No No Passive
Does not appear Optional Does not appear Yes Does not appear Yes Active
HDMI Does not appear Yes Yes No Yes No No Passive
Optional Does not appear Yes Active
  1. ^ USB 2.0 and USB Power Delivery are available at all times in a Type-C cable
  2. ^ USB 3.1 can be transmitted simultaneously when the video signal bandwidth requires two or fewer lanes.
  3. ^ a b Is only available in Thunderbolt 3 DisplayPort mode
  4. ^ Thunderbolt 3 40 Gbit/s passive cables are only possible <0.8 m due to limitations of current cable technology.

USB-C receptacle pin usage in different modes edit

The diagrams below depict the pins of a USB-C receptacle in different use cases.

USB 2.0/1.1 edit

A simple USB 2.0/1.1 device mates using one pair of D+/D− pins. Hence, the source (host) does not require any connection management circuitry, but it lacks the same physical connector so therefore USB-C is not backward compatible. VBUS and GND provide 5 V up to 500 mA of current.

However, to connect a USB 2.0/1.1 device to a USB-C host, use of Rd[60] on the CC pins is required, as the source (host) will not supply VBUS until a connection is detected through the CC pins.

This means many USB-A–to–USB-C cables will only work in the A to C direction (connecting to a USB-C devices, e.g. for charging) as they do not include the termination resistors needed to work in the C to A direction (from a USB-C host). Adapters or cables from USB-C to a USB-A receptacle usually do work as they include the required termination resistor.

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 D+ D− SBU1 VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS SBU2 D− D+ CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

USB Power Delivery edit

The USB Power Delivery specification uses one of CC1 or CC2 pins for power negotiation between source device and sink device, up to 20 V at 5 A. It is transparent to any data transmission mode, and can therefore be used together with any of them as long as the CC pins are intact.

An extension to the specification has added 28V, 36V and 48V to support up to 240W of power for laptops, monitors, hard disks and other peripherals.[61]

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 D+ D− SBU1 VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS SBU2 D− D+ CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

USB 3.0/3.1/3.2 edit

In the USB 3.0/3.1/3.2 mode, two or four high speed links are used in TX/RX pairs to provide 5, 10, or 20 Gbit/s (only by USB 3.2 x2 two-lane operations) signalling rates respectively. One of the CC pins is used to negotiate the mode.

VBUS and GND provide 5 V up to 900 mA, in accordance with the USB 3.1 specification. A specific USB-C mode may also be entered, where 5 V at nominal either 1.5 A or 3 A is provided.[62] A third alternative is to establish a USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) contract.

In single-lane mode, only the differential pairs closest to the CC pin are used for data transmission. For dual-lane data transfers, all four differential pairs are in use.

The D+/D− link for USB 2.0/1.1 is typically not used when USB 3.x connection is active, but devices like hubs open simultaneous 2.0 and 3.x uplinks in order to allow operation of both types of devices connected to it. Other devices may have the ability to fall back to 2.0, in case the 3.x connection fails.

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 D+ D− SBU1 VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS SBU2 D− D+ CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

Alternate Modes edit

In Alternate Modes one of up to four high speed links are used in whatever direction is needed. SBU1, SBU2 provide an additional lower speed link. If two high speed links remain unused, then a USB 3.0/3.1 link can be established concurrently to the Alternate Mode.[38] One of the CC pins is used to perform all the negotiation. An additional low band bidirectional channel (other than SBU) may share that CC pin as well.[38][46] USB 2.0 is also available through D+/D− pins.

In regard to power, the devices are supposed to negotiate a Power Delivery contract before an Alternate Mode is entered.[63]

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 D+ D− SBU1 VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS SBU2 D− D+ CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

Debug Accessory Mode edit

The external device test system (DTS) signals to the target system (TS) to enter debug accessory mode via CC1 and CC2 both being pulled down with an Rd resistor value or pulled up as Rp resistor value from the test plug (Rp and Rd defined in Type-C specification).

After entering debug accessory mode, optional orientation detection via the CC1 and CC2 is done via setting CC1 as a pullup of Rd resistance and CC2 pulled to ground via Ra resistance (from the test system Type-C plug). While optional, orientation detection is required if USB Power Delivery communication is to remain functional.

In this mode, all digital circuits are disconnected from the connector, and the 14 bold pins can be used to expose debug related signals (e.g. JTAG interface). USB IF requires for certification that security and privacy consideration and precaution has been taken and that the user has actually requested that debug test mode be performed.

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 D+ D− SBU1 VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS SBU2 D− D+ CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

If a reversible Type-C cable is required but Power Delivery support is not, the test plug will need to be arranged as below, with CC1 and CC2 both being pulled down with an Rd resistor value or pulled up as Rp resistor value from the test plug:

GND TS1 TS2 VBUS CC1 TS6 TS7 TS5 VBUS TS4 TS3 GND
GND TS3 TS4 VBUS TS5 TS7 TS6 CC2 VBUS TS2 TS1 GND

This mirroring of test signals will only provide 7 test signals for debug usage instead of 14, but with the benefit of minimizing extra parts count for orientation detection.

Audio Adapter Accessory Mode edit

In this mode, all digital circuits are disconnected from the connector, and certain pins become reassigned for analog outputs or inputs. The mode, if supported, is entered when both CC pins are shorted to GND. D− and D+ become audio output left L and right R, respectively. The SBU pins become a microphone pin MIC, and the analog ground AGND, the latter being a return path for both outputs and the microphone. Nevertheless, the MIC and AGND pins must have automatic swap capability, for two reasons: firstly, the USB-C plug may be inserted either side; secondly, there is no agreement, which TRRS rings shall be GND and MIC, so devices equipped with a headphone jack with microphone input must be able to perform this swap anyway.[64]

This mode also allows concurrent charging of a device exposing the analog audio interface (through VBUS and GND), however only at 5 V and 500 mA, as CC pins are unavailable for any negotiation.

GND TX1+ TX1− VBUS CC1 R L MIC VBUS RX2− RX2+ GND
GND RX1+ RX1− VBUS AGND L R CC2 VBUS TX2− TX2+ GND

Plug insertions detection is performed by the TRRS plug's physical plug detection switch. On plug insertions, this will pull down both CC and VCONN in the plug (CC1 and CC2 in the receptacle). This resistance must be less than 800 ohms which is the minimum "Ra" resistance specified in the USB Type-C specification). This is essentially a direct connection to USB digital ground.

TRRS rings wiring to Type-C plug (Figure A-2 of USB Type-C Cable and Connector Specification Release 1.3)
TRRS socket Analog audio signal USB Type-C plug
Tip L D−
Ring 1 R D+
Ring 2 Microphone/ground SBU1 or SBU2
Sleeve Microphone/ground SBU2 or SBU1
DETECT1 Plug presence detection switch CC, VCONN
DETECT2 Plug presence detection switch GND

Software support edit

Authentication edit

USB Type-C Authentication is an extension to the USB-C protocol which can add security to the protocol.[74][75][76]

Hardware support edit

 
A Samsung Galaxy S8 plugged into a DeX docking station: The monitor is displaying the PowerPoint and Word Android applications.

USB-C devices edit

An increasing number of motherboards, notebooks, tablet computers, smartphones, hard disk drives, USB hubs and other devices released from 2014 onwards include the USB-C receptacles. However, the initial adoption of USB-C was limited by the high cost of USB-C cables[77] and the wide use of Micro-USB chargers.[citation needed]

Video output edit

Currently, DisplayPort is the most widely implemented alternate mode, and is used to provide video output on devices that do not have standard-size DisplayPort or HDMI ports, such as smartphones and laptops. All Chromebooks with a USB-C port are required to support DisplayPort alternate mode in Google's hardware requirements for manufacturers.[78] A USB-C multiport adapter converts the device's native video stream to DisplayPort/HDMI/VGA, allowing it to be displayed on an external display, such as a television set or computer monitor.

It is also used on USB-C docks designed to connect a device to a power source, external display, USB hub, and optional extra (such as a network port) with a single cable. These functions are sometimes implemented directly into the display instead of a separate dock,[79] meaning a user connects their device to the display via USB-C with no other connections required.

Compatibility issues edit

Power issues with cables edit

Many cables claiming to support USB-C are actually not compliant to the standard. Using these cables would have a potential consequence of damaging devices that they are connected to.[80][81][82] There are reported cases of laptops being destroyed due to the use of non-compliant cables.[83]

Some non-compliant cables with a USB-C connector on one end and a legacy USB-A plug or Micro-B receptacle (receptacles also being invalid on cables) on the other end incorrectly terminate the Configuration Channel (CC) with a 10 kΩ pull-up to VBUS instead of the specification mandated 56 kΩ pull-up,[84] causing a device connected to the cable to incorrectly determine the amount of power it is permitted to draw from the cable. Cables with this issue may not work properly with certain products, including Apple and Google products, and may even damage power sources such as chargers, hubs, or PC USB ports.[85][86]

When a defective USB-C cable or power source is used, the voltage seen by a USB-C device can be different from the voltage expected by the device. This may result in an overvoltage on the VBUS pin. Also due to the fine pitch of the USB-C receptacle, the VBUS pin from the cable may contact with the CC pin of the USB-C receptacle resulting in a short-to-VBUS electrical issue due to the fact that the VBUS pin is rated up to 20 V while the CC pins are rated up to 5.5 V. To overcome these issues, USB Type-C port protection must be used between a USB-C connector and a USB-C Power Delivery controller.[87]

Compatibility with audio adapters edit

The USB-C port can be used to connect wired accessories such as headphones.

There are two modes of audio output from devices: digital and analog. There are primarily two types of USB-C audio adapters: active, e.g. those with digital-to-analog converters (DACs), and passive, without electronics.[88][89]

When an active set of USB-C headphones or adapter is used, digital audio is sent through the USB-C port. The conversion by the DAC and amplifier is done inside of the headphones or adapter, instead of on the phone. The sound quality is dependent on the headphones/adapter's DAC. Active adapters with a built-in DAC have near-universal support for devices that output digital and analog audio, adhering to the Audio Device Class 3.0 and Audio Adapter Accessory Mode specifications.

Examples of such active adapters include external USB sound cards and DACs that do not require special drivers,[90] and USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone jack adapters by Apple, Google, Essential, Razer, HTC, and Samsung.[91]

On the other hand, when a passive adapter is used, digital-to-analog conversion is done on the host device and analog audio is sent through the USB-C port. The sound quality is dependent on the phone's onboard DAC. Passive adapters are only compatible with devices that output analog audio, adhering to the Audio Adapter Accessory Mode specification.

USB-C to 3.5 mm audio adapters and USB sound cards compatibility
Output mode Specification Devices USB-C adapters
Active Passive, without DACs
Digital audio Audio Device Class 3.0 (digital audio) Apple iPhone 15, Google Pixel 2, HTC U11, Essential Phone, Razer Phone,
Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, Sharp Aquos S2, Asus ZenFone 3, Bluedio T4S, Lenovo Tab 4, GoPro, MacBook etc.
No conversion Conversion unavailable
Analog audio
  • Audio Device Class 3.0 (digital audio)
  • Audio Adapter Accessory Mode (analog audio)
Apple iPhone 15, Moto Z/Z Force, Moto Z2/Z2 Force/Z2 Play, Moto Z3/Z3 Play, Sony Xperia XZ2, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Huawei P20/P20 Pro, Honor Magic2, LeEco,
Xiaomi phones, OnePlus 6T, OnePlus 7/7 Pro/7T/7T Pro,
Oppo Find X/Oppo R17/R17 Pro, ZTE Nubia Z17/Z18 etc.
Conversion by adapter Pass-through

Compatibility with other fast-charging technology edit

In 2016, Benson Leung, an engineer at Google, pointed out that Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 technologies developed by Qualcomm are not compatible with the USB-C standard.[92] Qualcomm responded that it is possible to make fast-charge solutions fit the voltage demands of USB-C and that there are no reports of problems; however, it did not address the standard compliance issue at that time.[93] Later in the year, Qualcomm released Quick Charge 4, which it claimed was – as an advancement over previous generations – "USB Type-C and USB PD compliant".[94]

Regulations for compatibility edit

In 2021, the European Commission proposed the use of USB-C as a universal charger.[95][96][97] On 4 October 2022, the European Parliament voted in favor of the new law, Radio Equipment Directive 2022/2380, with 602 votes in favor, 13 against and 8 absentions.[98] The regulation requires that all new mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, headsets, handheld video game consoles, portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, and earbuds sold in the European Union and supporting wired charging, would have to be equipped with a USB-C port and charge with a standard USB-C to USB-C cable by the end of 2024. Additionally, if these devices support fast charging, they must support USB Power Delivery. These regulations will extend to laptops by spring 2026.[99] To comply with these regulations, Apple Inc. replaced its proprietary Lightning connector with USB-C beginning with the iPhone 15 and AirPods Pro second generation, released in 2023.[100]

See also edit

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External links edit