back to article USB-C to hit 80Gbps under updated USB4 v. 2.0 spec

The USB Promoter Group has announced version 2.0 of the USB4 spec and promises it can carry data at 80Gbps. The Group’s announcement [PDF] of the spec is a little light on detail because the nitty gritty stuff will debut in time for developer events scheduled for November. For now, we’ve been told that the spec will offer the …

  1. itsborken

    EU will love this

    New round of cable purchases sends the old stuff to the landfills. New hubs/docks obsoleting gear...

    1. 9Rune5
      Coat

      Re: EU will love this

      Where do you buy cables that last longer than a year..?

      1. Dave K

        Re: EU will love this

        More to the point, where do you buy such flimsy cables from that don't last more than a year?

        I've got USB cables kicking around that are 5-10 years old and still working fine. Maybe because I coil them up properly and store them when not in use, don't run my wheely chair over them and actually look after them...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          To the downvoter

          I hope that all your cables fry themselves in a sudden explosion and take all your kit with them.

          If you have money to throw away on cables then go ahead and waste it. The vast majority of us do not have that luxury and you know look after things that we have spent our mulah on.

          The OP is making perfect sense and does not deserve a downvote.

          1. WolfFan Silver badge

            Re: To the downvoter

            It’s cheaper, long term, to buy good quality products which last for years than to buy cheap products that must be replaced on a yearly basis. I have cables which are 10 years old; good quality cables don’t cost 10x the price of cheap ones. Paying for quality saves money.

            1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

              Re: To the downvoter

              A few years ago, I switched to the magnetic charging cables... Plug in the USB C end, and you never have to remove it again, just wave it near the other magnet and it'll attach itself.

              I bought a pack of about 5 cables... which came with 5 type C and 5 micro B ends. So I can charge my phone, my partners phone and my old tablet from the same cable. In the set was a 60CM mini one, which sits in the car... I have a 3m one that is plugged in under my desk and sits poking out from under the soundbar... and she's got one in the kitchen where she normally charges her phone and another by her side of the bed (We do actually have an agreement that no phones are allowed in the bedroom though)

              The cables are nice and thick, braided with decent protection where it joins the plug.

              If more than 3yrs... not one of them has failed... and if any one of them does, I have spares.

              cost about £15 for the whole set.

              I've suffered with shitty cables in the past... had one USB micro b amazon sold cable that fried 2 tablets... First one failed and we thought the screen had gone (was a known issue with that model), but when I gave her my old tablet and the following day the cable sparked and toasted that tablet too... Binned that garbage and vowed never to buy a cheap cable ever again.

              1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                Re: To the downvoter

                Magnetic tip cables are great. Now to get them to work with fast charging.

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: To the downvoter

                  Simple don’t buy the cheap ones!

                  Not had problems with the elecjet magnet connectors I purchased back in 2020.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: EU will love this

          Same here... Same with mobile cables (nowadays just the lightning cable). Look after it and it'll work for a lot longer than you would expect.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: EU will love this

        Alternative to the above question, how badly are you treating your cables that they don't last you over a year?

        1. Gerhard Mack

          Re: EU will love this

          That's easy. Micro USB cables in particular don't like being plugged and unplugged on a regular basis. I considered the cables I used to charge my phone as disposable and kept spares around since they rarely lasted more than two or thee months.

          In one case, I stopped buying long cables and saved money by using a USB extension cable with a short micro USB on the end of it that I changed regularly.

          1. Dave K

            Re: EU will love this

            I've been using the same MicroUSB cable at my desk to charge my previous personal phone (current one is USB-C) and now my work phone for about 4 or 5 years now. It isn't a fancy, expensive one either, just a cheap one that came with the phone. I know the plugs aren't the most robust in the world, but if you only get 2-3 months out of a cable, it's either dreadful quality, or you are mistreating it in some way.

          2. WolfFan Silver badge

            Re: EU will love this

            If you have cables which died in three months or less, you had very bad cables and/or were abusing them. I buy quality cables, except in emergencies when I need a cable right bloody now… and even the el cheapo cables from the bargain bin at WalMart or, worse, Office Depot, last for well past a year.

      3. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: EU will love this

        I have USB cables which are ten years old. I merely bought good quality cables.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: EU will love this

      There is no change in USB Power Delivery specification and there is no need to change the cable as the connector is the same and the charger won't be sending data at 80Gbps so there is no problem.

      Next.

      1. badflorist Bronze badge

        Re: EU will love this

        "There is no change in USB Power Delivery specification..."

        July 17th, 2022 " Revision 3.1 Version 1.5"

        :-/ not 2 months ago.

        USB-C PD is a shit show and I think anyone who has tried to implement it themselves knows this because they probably gave up. If you're reading a ridiculous amount of pages (~2,000) to figure it all out, you're probably being paid to do so. There's been so much shit added to it that it's taking on a life of it's own and essentially it has become the serial version of X.500... just too fuc'n complicated without buying an IC to do it all for you.

        USB-C gives the impression of plug and play but every new version reminds me more and more of a static style connector that you hook up your washer and dryer with.

        240v is O.K. but, look me up on Revision 3.5.3.a-r2 Version 2.1.3.c when 480v is added... I have some industrial excavating equipment I need powered up.

        P.S. I like how it's already "2.0" of USB4.0... good to see they're keeping the none-sense going.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: EU will love this

          "just too fuc'n complicated without buying an IC to do it all for you."

          That's the correct approach for something like this, buy the IC (or module for something like Bluetooth). The multithousand page spec is for the IC makers to agree on the ground rules so they can interoperate. You just plop the IC into your system (after reading the ~200 page datasheet).

    3. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: EU will love this

      Why are your old cables suddenly not working and need to be sent to landfill?

      Don't they still work with all the stuff they were working with the day before you bought the latest shiny?

    4. Pen-y-gors

      Re: EU will love this

      You send old kit to landfill?

      My office is more like a museum of IT. I have cables going back decades. Also hard drives, laptops, storage, kettles, desktops, monitors, broken mice and keyboards...

      1. mickaroo

        Re: EU will love this

        My office USED to be like that. "You need what cable? Oh, I think it's in this box over here..."

        Then we moved to a condo and my wife made me "rationalize" my stuff [:-(

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: EU will love this

          It's after rationaling that you discover you really need that old D-sub VGA cable.

      2. JDPower666 Silver badge

        Re: EU will love this

        If you haven't got at least one box packed full of ancient cables that'll never be used (and will never contain the one you need), what sort of geek are you

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: EU will love this

          I still have SCSI cables. Including SCSI cables with Centronics ends, to fit the plugs built into ancient Macs.

          1. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: EU will love this

            I still have a couple of SCSI drives tucked under my desk that use the Centronics style cables, from Frog; used with an Amiga and then a PC. One day, will find out what condition they are in. Yup, one day, real soon now.

    5. David-M

      Re: EU will love this

      Not a problem for the older style USBs, you can never get the blessed things in no matter how many times you turn them over, their ends are like a pandimensional polyhedron. d

  2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
    Unhappy

    "Up to 80Gbps"

    Is that like the "up to xxMb/S" speeds claimed by major ISPs?

    Note the protocol speed is different from the effective data transfer rate. In my experience, USB effective data transfer rates are woefully-less than the "speed" listed in the relevant spec version. Perhaps other peoples' experiences are better (... or not?)

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: "Up to 80Gbps"

      I remember when Firewire 400 was about 10x faster than USB-2 in real-life operations, even though the headline speed of USB-2 was 20% faster.

  3. Sampler

    If you need a new cable, what's the benefit of keeping the same connector, that just seems asking for confusion with people plugging 3.2 cables in to 4.0 slots and not getting enough power / starting fires..

    (before people think I'm being literal with starting fires, I appreciate the systems tests for ability and does not proceed where it can't)

    For the handful of occasions where you have your old cable and you don't need to worry about the bandwidth it seems odd to retain the socket given the trouble it can bring.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Presumably it allows cheapskate laptop makers to continue to expose just one USB socket.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        > Presumably it allows cheapskate laptop makers to continue to expose just one USB socket.

        Like Apple?

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Please list the Apple products which are not iPad Pros and have only one USB port. The device I am using to type this is an iPad Pro. Sitting over on the next desk is a MacBook Air… with two ports. I’d like to know which other devices had just one port. I really would.

          1. Alumoi Silver badge
            Joke

            Your phone?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it also means new cables can be used with older chargers and devices, you don't need to keep different cables and adapter etc like before, can still reuse them. Then when you replace the chargers and docks with newer ones, they can still be used with older devices along with the older (you aleady have ones.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >

        Anonymous Coward

        it also means new cables can be used with older chargers and devices, you don't need to keep different cables and adapter etc like before, can still reuse them.

        Good advice is to get rid of old charging cables and buy new charging cables of the same specification and label! That way you can differentiate between charging cables and data transfer only cables.

    3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Presumably the speed is downgraded if the wrong cable is plugged in? (But still works)

    4. Learlo

      It's not universal anymore mate

      USB4 took the "U" out of USB years ago. You, the user, need to know the exact spec of cable, host and device to try to guess what will happen when you connect them together.

      It was a choice out of industrial strategy, which seems to continue with this new version. I can't see any hint at USB4v2 supporting USB 1.x, which will concentrate even further the suppliers of USB ICs.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: It's not universal anymore mate

        I think the name "USB Promoter Group" tells us what we need to know.

      2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: It's not universal anymore mate

        Those of us who have been in IT for more than a couple of years will remain the pain of, DB9, DB25, centronics, various SCSI types, PS2 Keyboard & Mouse, etc. The holy grain of a single connector (USB) to replace them all seemed impossible. We briefly had it: Then the idiots forgot what the "U" meant and we're now back at square one.

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      > that just seems asking for confusion

      USB is just like HDMI in that respect - why label when you can confuse.

      For reasons unknown, the sensible approach adopted decades back for the clear labelling of RJ45 Cat cables has been discarded with HDMI and USB.

      Likewise the power adaptors also 'hide' their output specifications (a problem not unique to USB, I have similar problems with 12v .adaptors typically used on home routers, where it is a little more important to match adapter to equipment).

      To keep my life simple, I've standardised on power adaptors, previously standardising on multi-port chargers that could deliver 5V 2.4A concurrently to all ports with cables to match. With the move to USB-C I've standardised on Apple's iPad 20W adaptors (5V 3A / 9V 2.22A) and cables. My thinking is if the device can't handle these power sources, it is the device manufacturer at fault, not the user.

      However, with more devices being capable of drawing 30W, it seems my next standard will be a USB-C PD 3.0 specified charger.

      So that drawer of miscellaneous chargers has been replaced by a drawer of low-power USB chargers...

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "However, with more devices being capable of drawing 30W"

        Capable of, or needing to?

  4. PhilipN Silver badge

    "cables will be cheap

    Yup end-of-life means cheap

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: "cables will be cheap

      Until a tipping point after OEMs and distributors have exhausted 80-90% of their stock, then charge a boatload to those lovely geeks who will still be supporting "legacy" systems and absolutely need older kit, assuming newer stuff is not actually compatible.

      In this case, "end-of-life" means "cheap until decidedly NOT cheap."

  5. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Meh

    ThunderbusPort-e

    Is this another mess where you can choose between a very short passive cable or a longer active cable that only works on one tunneling protocol? Or certain protocols and certain devices force data onto the 480Mbps wires? Are there going to be features that are dependent on whether it's plug A or C?

    I don't have high hopes for old claims about THz wireless links, but it's sounding better with each new USB revision.

  6. DS999 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh good

    USB wasn't confusing enough so now before anyone is even using USB4 we have USB4 v 2.0.

    When do we get USB 4.1 v2.3 3x3 hyperspeed?

    1. Dave K
      Joke

      Re: Oh good

      It's perfectly simple, a device with a USB-C connector on it can be one of the following:

      USB4 Version 2.0

      USB4 Version 1.0

      USB 3.2 Gen 2x2

      USB 3.2 Gen 2

      USB 3.2 Gen 1

      USB 2.0

      The can be with or without Thunderbolt support as well, and includes older ports labelled as USB 3.1 or USB 3.0 which were in course renamed to the different generations of USB 3.2 for perfectly sensible reasons.

      See? It's obvious! My elderly gran finds it a doddle to tell them all apart...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh good

        I've heard that they are going to make the naming simpler again.

        The newest version will always be called USB latest.

        Then the previous will be renamed to USB previous, then older, even older, really old, so old shouldn't be using.

        So you know if you are using the latest ver.....

        Will be simples

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Oh good

          There are only four names required and half the name comes from the price:

          1) Cheap, slow and never in shown on searches from Apple products.

          2) Expensive, fast and supplied as standard only to reviewers.

          3) Same component as (2) but cheap and out of stock.

          4) Same component as (1), same price as (2) and in almost identical packaging.

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Oh good

            What about the $10,000 audiophile grade cable?

        2. Pen-y-gors

          Re: Oh good

          Could we go classical - current version is USB inst. Previous is USB ult. next is USB prox.

        3. PRR Bronze badge
          Alien

          Re: Oh good

          > make the naming simpler again. The newest version will always be called USB latest.

          ARGH!!! Yes yes yes. I wanna e-book reader. Kindles are all "All-new Kindle". Since the dawn of time? Only recently have they started listing the year "All-new Kindle (2016 release)". Only the latest patch on Kindle O/S tells you what hardware it is on (mine now says 10th generation, but the generation is rarely/never listed on Amazon). (Talkin' 'bout my generation!)

      2. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Oh good

        Sure, that's the device.

        The cable however? Well..

        That can be power only, or power and data. It can be 2W, or 10W or 20W or 100W. It can support 18 different speeds. It can be any permutation of any of those.

        Of course, I'm simplifying. It could also be USB-A or micro-USB on one end, and USB-C on the other. More permutations.

        The USB spec is a horrific anti-consumer nightmare that makes it impossible for any normal person to know whether plugging cable A into source B will allow the interactions with device C that they're hoping for. That's a fail.

        USB has failed.

        1. Sp1z

          Re: Oh good

          Exactly. Maybe it should just be called "SB"?

          1. sten2012

            Re: Oh good

            Is it even really a bus? I often wonder this.

            I think of busses as something that can be passively expanded and devices will negotiate, like SPI for example. The requirement of active hubs to do that makes it feel to me that its not.

            It's probably a misunderstanding on my end though...

            1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

              Re: Oh good

              "I think of busses as something that can be passively expanded and devices will negotiate, like SPI for example"

              I think of busses as something to catch when my car is in for its MOT or service

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Oh good

          >The USB spec is a horrific anti-consumer nightmare that makes it impossible for any normal person to know whether plugging cable A into source B will allow the interactions with device C that they're hoping for. That's a fail.

          Same applies to HDMI cables and connectors...

          And no one has mentioned USB Power Delivery...

        3. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Oh good

          Yeah I didn't even want to get into the cables, which are an even worse nightmare.

          Adding 240W power delivery is going to cause some fires, as people use old USB-C cables they have lying about which have too thin of wires to handle the amperage necessary to charge a hefty laptop or power a monitor that also acts as a USB hub.

        4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Oh good

          Oh, you drama queens!

      3. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Oh good

        You forgot USB 1.0 (aka "USB") and USB 1.1

        I've still got bits around here with white plastic in in Type A connector!

        1. Dasein
          IT Angle

          Re: Oh good

          Not that the 'standardized' colors mean anything anymore... :\

          At this point it feels like the companies need to be taken off the board & replaced with people who use it, or they put it under the control of another entity like the Linux Foundation because it really should've just been:

          1- An active USB 5 cable spec that's made in collab with whatever the Thunderbolt manufacturers/implementers had planned.

          2- Mandates all previously proposed features (Like VirtualLink or Latest HDMI) in USB-C Hosts, Hubs, and peripherals.

          If it's more expensive then so be it, as customers looking for a cheaper option could stick with USB 3.

          - - - - - -

          Even if they have to fit in an additional 2 pins on the side to make it only run USB 5.0 on the plug recepticles that have those added contacts.

      4. Dasein

        Re: Oh good

        I think there was an old version of 3.0 Gen 1 that was slightly different too xD

      5. 43300 Bronze badge

        Re: Oh good

        Don't forget Displayport over USB-C as well!

        And proprietary USB-C docking station (e.g. Dell, Lenovo) where plugging in a latop by a different manufactorer will lead to it sort-of working but normally excluding the bits which are proprietary (such as the power button on the dock which turns on the laptop).

    2. Dasein
      Flame

      Re: Oh god

      Or "USB4.3-CD 2x4 PRO XTREMEZZ!!! Version 2.36 (3rd Gen Thunderbolt - Passive Edition)"

      They really should've just gone with 'USB-C 4.5' but atleast we still have backwards compatibility for now in all these versions... Right?

      1. David Austin

        Re: Oh god

        You have a promising career as a Kingdom Hearts Game Namer

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Educate me please?

    When one has, say, an external monitor attached to a laptop via a USB-3 (and an external docking station), how is the video transferred? As an uncompressed bitstream? Compressed bitstream? Instructions to a video chip in the docking station?

    It's something I've never really thought about, but it occurs to me that once you're driving a couple of 4k displays, there's a lot of bits being sent *somewhere*.

    (Question brought about by a recent installation of a 4k monitor which supports only 30Hz on this Dell laptop/dock combination, where a 2k monitor runs at 60Hz).

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Educate me please?

      I think they use VESA's Display Stream Compression standard to lightly compress the signal.

      If I'm wrong, I expect someone will gently correct the error.

    2. Kobblestown

      Re: Educate me please?

      AFAIK, USB-C video signalling uses Alternate mode which repurposes the USB3 data links for use as a video link. In the case of HDMI, this is specified for HDMI 1.4b which would have the effect you describe. You'd probably get better results with USB-C --> DisplayPort.

      This also means that the data speed falls down to USB2 which is mandatory and uses separate wires.

      Thunderbolt multiplexes the video data with regular data so the effective available data rate depends on the video data rate. It's a much better system and I'm hopeful that all USB4 implementations will support Thunderbolt, which should not be a big problem since they use the same PHY. Thunderbolt is trademarked by Intel who only allow its use for certified (by Intel, of course) devices but it can work without being formally certified, as in some Ryzen 6800U laptops.

      1. Dasein
        FAIL

        Re: Educate me please?

        Although it only goes up to Thunderbolt 3 spec and not 4, they should've just waited for T5 and then made a USB 5.0 based off of that.

        1. Kobblestown

          Re: Educate me please?

          TB4 is mostly the same as TB3. It simply raises the minimum requirements but the max throughput is the same. I guess that would mean that not all USB4 controllers will be created equal but doesn't mean that they will necesarrily be slower than TB4.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Educate me please?

            Thanks all.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Educate me please?

      >how is the video transferred?

      It depends...

      Display over USB/HDMI is problematic. I've often had to resort to digging deep into the manuals to locate just which method, resolutions and refresh rates are supported by the display, the USB hub, and the laptop.

      Generally, if you can use a direct SVGA (okay for 1080) or HDMI/Displaylink connection, do so, particularly if you want stable 4K and greater.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Educate me please?

        Display over USB/TB3 is great, I have one USB-C cable going from my TB3 dock to my laptop, it carries 125W power*, two 4k / 60Hz video streams, plus a standard USB-3 hub.

        * a Dell "extension" - it will send 100W / 65 W / less as negotiated if a non Dell laptop /phone / anything is plugged in

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What is an "active" cable ?

    A cable is a cable. It's a bit of wire with certain mechanical properties, mainly, the ability to transfer current.

    Our technology allows us to modulate that current to transfer data, but that has nothing to do with the cable and everything to do with the bits the cable is plugged into.

    So, what is the difference between an "active" and a "passive" cable, given that the cable isn't given the choice ?

    1. 9Rune5

      Longer cable

      I googled, and according to the product information of such a cable: "This cable incorporates an active chipset with signal boosting functions to provide reliable video and data information over a longer distance than a passive USB-C cable".

      When I was a boy we had to make do with two cans and a string. None of this 'active' nonsense.

      1. Aussie Doc
        Windows

        Re: Longer cable

        You 'ad string?

        We were so poor ours were stringless.

        Tell young'uns today and they'll believe you coz now they've got 'wireless' and all.

        Here's da talking into his can --->

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Active Nonsense

        With your two cans and string, I guess the active part was making said string wet?

        1. Zimmer
          Coat

          Re: Active Nonsense

          Wet it?

          No! You had to wax it - using the candle you were reading by..

          i.e. USB 0.1.1 (Unreliable String Breaks when wet)

        2. Dante Alighieri
          Boffin

          Re: Active Nonsense

          Like this?

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: What is an "active" cable ?

      It sounds like a 1-port hub, which is what a USB-extender cable is.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is an "active" cable ?

      Active vs passive.

      Active have a powered device within them to carry out a task, such as amplification

      Passive have no powered devices within them

      Other examples of active/passive devices.

      Speakers:

      Active speakers have a built in amp, require power.

      Passive speakers have no amp, just the speaker and require an external amp.

    4. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: What is an "active" cable ?

      "A cable is a cable. It's a bit of wire with certain mechanical properties, mainly, the ability to transfer current."

      Actually, at these data rates it's a closely designed impedance matched transmission line. Even if the kit at both ends is impedance matched, an incorrectly designed cable can spoil the signal.

  9. Christoph

    240 volts?

    "USB-C will be able to carry both 80Gbps and 240 volts."

    240 volts on something the thickness of current USB cables? That does not sound safe, even with very low current. What's the spec for that? What happens when a cable is damaged - there can't be anything like the insulation thickness you get on mains cables.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      I believe that was a quantum joke – it collapses to a joke or not joke when read though in either state the humour content is elusive. If you got the non-joke version, well we are already up to 20v. I suppose it would be

      possible to go higher but I imagine it would be limited to around 40/50v like PoE.

    2. vmistery

      Re: 240 volts?

      I’d assume the 240v circuitry wouldn’t be in your average laptop. It’s probably for some weird power over Ethernet competitor for longer distances. I would assume the cables would need to be thicker for that. Perhaps I will read the spec and find out what it is for!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 240 volts?

      Can't come soon enough. Might stop my 2 year old putting the one from my laptop charger in his mouth.

    4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      I think the author meant 240W

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: 240 volts?

        That's already a thing. You can buy the cables though good luck actually using them at more than 100W.

        Not sure if it's been reported here though.

    5. DJO Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      Depends on the frequency. At 50 or 60Hz you'd be right but step it up to a few kilohertz and you can cram a lot more power down thinner wires.

      1. Mark #255

        Re: 240 volts?

        You're amusingly/worryingly wrong.

        At higher frequencies, current tends to concentrate at the surface of a conductor*. This leads to an effective higher conductor resistance and consequent lower current and power handling capabilities.

        * This is why multi-strand conductors are better than solid ones for high frequency currents, because there's relatively more surface area. But if you want to transfer power, low frequency is better.

    6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      It's nonsense: most electronic devices want 5V or 12V DC. At some point wiring will update to reflect this.

      1. Natalie Gritpants Jr

        Re: 240 volts?

        And the thing that gets moved around between plugs in a house the most is a hoover, or possibly a hairdryer. Good look with a 12V hoover.

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: 240 volts?

          My hoover is battery powered. The battery can easily charge via 12V.

          1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

            Re: 240 volts?

            I don't have a Hoover.

            I have a Vax.

            Still trying to figure out how to boot it to VMS.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: 240 volts?

          240 V AC is a consequence of using AC for power transmission. Powering a hoover with 5 -18 V DC isn't a problem as battery powered ones demonstrate. Of course, to boil a kettle you need around 20 times the current, but batteries and big capacitors can give you that.

          As more and more buildings get some form of generation (wind, solar, bio, etc.) and storage it makes more sense to go with the DC and avoid all the equipment and associated losses of going back to AC to drive all those DC appliances.

        3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

          Re: 240 volts?

          Oddly enough, I test car batteries by counting the seconds that they can run a 1.6 kW carpet vacuum cleaner.

    7. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: 240 volts?

      That does not sound safe

      It's OK, by the time we get there the cables will be 1cm in diameter, will require their own power supply, and the laptop will merely be an accessory for the cable.

    8. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      My better USB cables are thicker than low power mains cables. Maximum safe voltage is limited by the thickness and type of insulation. Maximum safe current is limited by the cross-sectional area of the conductor and the temperature at which the insulator softens. A low power device should will safely with thin conductors if there is some sort of current limit (like a fuse) to deal with failure conditions.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: 240 volts?

        With one's cynical hat on, one might wonder how many of such cables (I'm making no comment on yours!) are merely thicker plastic insulation on the same size wire...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: 240 volts?

          The AC means you need shielding as much as anything else. Or bloody big rectifiers and amplfiiers as with powerline.

    9. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: 240 volts?

      I like it! BOFH should have a lot of fun with this new standard.

      "...sounds like your cable needs degaussing. Do you have any degaussing fluid handy?"

      "Oh, you don't. Well no worry, it is similar to saliva. Just lick the end of the cable, that should solve the problem....permanently."

      Kzzzzzzzrt!

    10. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: 240 volts?

      We misread - it's 240 watts, not volts. Now fixed. Please drop us an email if you think we screwed up - it's a lot easier than fishing corrections out of a comment thread.

      C.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: 240 volts?

        It's still a dangerous amount of power for such small cables and connectors. Even if you only go up to 48V (which is starting to get a bit questionable) it's still 5A - mini welder anyone?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a relatively simple solution to cable choice

    As USB-C devices pick up cable capabilities from the chip in the cable, make that data user visible via an app. If someone can insert a cable into a Mac, PC, iPad or Android phone (iPhones aren't there yet) and simply run an application to query that chip it'll be easier to validate a cable. It won't help when buying something online, but at least it gives you some means to test that the cable you have to hand is able to do the job you have for it.

    As a matter of fact, the 'About this Mac' function in MacOS already offers a very detailed assessment of whatever you plug in, including the capability of any PD device jacked in (it's how I found out that one USB-C PSU did not supply enough to my somewhat aged Intel MacBook), surely it must be possible to use that part in a specialised app, and on every platform?

    Just an idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a relatively simple solution to cable choice

      you speak plainly and reasonably. Bad idea.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a decision that all-but-necessitates the acquisition of a dock or hub

    that's outsourcing for you :(

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    FFS

    How much more time will I have to spend faffing around in my box of wirey things, untangling all the assorted cables to find one with the right set of plugs at either end!!!!

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      You need to set up a database, with each cable QR coded and kept in an acrylic tube. Just dump all the tubes onto the kitchen table and start up your app (you do have the app, don't you?); tap on the image of the master device (PC, laptop, DVR) and the slave (memory stick, actioncam etc). The app then shows a video of the table and uses AR to highlight which tube contains the cable you want.

      It couldn't be simpler.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS

        .. unless you first need to work out which cable you need for the display.

        :)

  13. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    We're gonna need a bigger cable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > We're gonna need a bigger cable.

      Yeah, just double the number of strands in the cable, bit more insulation, and you're good to go. The active bit mentioned is just to multiplex the data over the extra wires. :-)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >Yeah, just double the number of strands in the cable, bit more insulation, and you're good to go.

        Not quite so simple, you are forgetting twists.

        Wouldn't be surprised to find the 80Gbps USB cable has more in common with RJ45 Cat7 (100Gbps up to 15m) than USB 2.0.

  14. Piro Silver badge

    Usb-c is a giant cluster

    The spec is being fragmented to a comical degree. You'll soon need a degree to identify the right cable for the job. I'm thinking maybe it's not such a good idea to force it to bear every imaginable functionality.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Usb-c is a giant cluster

      I disagree. Relying on unique connectors to identify cable function was never sustainable. Barrel plugs anyone? At least with USB, if you can plug it in you get some basic functionality and nothing's going to be cooked. Sure, you still need to know that you need the appropriate cable to, say, charge your laptop but it was ever thus. And at least with USB there's some prospect of automating the process. Window's "this device can work faster" leaves something to be desired but a wizard complete with pictures could be very useful for those that need some help.

      Now, one thing that is a clusterfuck is the labelling but even that's been sorted out. Apparently the new standard is to label cables with the maximum data rate and power capacity. Two figures, and really all you need to know.

  15. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Can we at least stick to micro-USB when that is all that is needed?

    So far, not one gadget I have[1] which uses a USB C connector actually *needs* that connector - they could all work perfectly well with micro-USB (just for fun, my usual "USB C cable" is actually a short mini-USB to C on the end of an 'old' mini to A cable: at the time, cheaper than buying a long enough C to A).

    If you see micro-USB you know what it may demand from the other end. See a C and you have go check the specs to find out if it is compatible - only to find out that it doesn't uses anything beyond old fashioned USB 2! What a waste of time.

    But we have some people that demand C where it isn't needed (and where it would add cost), often because they "just threw away all the old cables" (citations available if required). Aargh.

    [1] I'm aware that there are gadgets that do make use of the facilities, I just don't have a use-case for them (and, fwiw, neither do any of my old fellow CS alumni I met up with last week; just my sample set, yours may differ). Monitors all happy on VGA, HDMI, DP; don't do video enough to justify a superfast external drive; happily bumbling along with a few dozen MCU boards and blinkies, smattering of 'phones and tablets around the house.

    1. knottedhandkerchief

      Re: Can we at least stick to micro-USB when that is all that is needed?

      At least I don't need try 3 or 5 times to get the micro-USB connector in. USB-C is always the right was around.

  16. frank 3

    What part of UNIVERSAL do these people not understand?

    This was the WHOLE PROMISE of USB, that it would be, well, universal, ffs.

    It's got me cross enough to start randomly capitalising words. Never a good sign.

    I suppose we should, at least, be grateful that they haven't introduced yet another form factor to the dozen or so that already exist, but good grief people.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge
  18. IGotOut Silver badge

    For a tech site...

    There are a lot of utterly ignorant people here.

    Oooo we have to buy loads of new cables.

    No you don't, keep using your old cables for your old stuff, or get this, use the new cable for the new AND old stuff.

    Ooo so confusing, yet another standard.

    Yes just like before, how many of you actually noticed the different coloured usb ports? Yup, different specs and uses.

    How many people still have chargers that have a USB A that they still use? Most of you? Thought so. Yet magically, you don't get really confused by that.

    Seriously, if you can't manage a cable, then there is no hope for us as a species.

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