USB Power Delivery – Charge Your Laptop with a USB Cable

USB Power Delivery – Charge Your Laptop with a USB Cable

The USB Power Delivery (PD) Technology was displayed last week at the Intel Developers Forum 2012 in San Francisco. The new standard can provide the 60 watts of electrical power needed to recharge a laptop battery, and may be available for the market starting later this year or the beginning of 2013.

For quite some time now everyone has been able to charge their smartphones through a Micro USB cable. In recent years, they’ve been able charge their tablets in the same manner as well. But a new power standard in USB has been released that is designed to send out much more electrical power, allowing you to charge up your laptop and USB peripherals through a regular USB cable.

The new specification, called USB Power Delivery, was showcased at this year’s Intel Developers Forum event last week in San Francisco. Two Intel Engineers provided very interesting details in their presentation on the new USB PD technology. Even though you can only get up to 7.5 watts of power from a specialized battery charging version of USB (USB 3.0 usually only provides 4.5 watts), USB Power Delivery could offer up to 100 watts of electrical power – more than enough to fully recharge any portable USB device.

In the presentation, (also made available on the USB Implementer Forum website, the organization envisions a scenario where an LCD monitor would have a USB PD port, which in turn could be used to charge a notebook battery while also serving as that computer’s primary display. That’s awesome! In theory, the USB Power Delivery port could also be built into a new desktop or even a wall adapter to free you from using a hub style plug to recharge your laptop battery running on AC power.

In essence, USB has evolved from a data interface capable of supplying limited power to a primary provider of power with a data interface. Today, many gadgets charge or get their power from USB ports contained in laptops, cars, airplanes, or even directly on wall sockets. USB has become a universal power socket for many small devices such as cell phones, MP3 players and other hand-held portable devices.

The USB Power Delivery Specification enables the maximum potential of the USB by providing more electrical power delivery along with data over a single cable. Its aim is to operate with and build on the existing USB ecosystem.

USB Power Delivery includes the following features:

  • Increased power levels from existing USB standards up to 100W.
  • Power direction is no longer fixed. This enables the product with the power (Host or Peripheral) to provide the power.
  • Optimize power management across multiple peripherals by allowing each device to take only the power it requires, and to get more power when required for a given application.
  • Intelligent and flexible system level management of power via optional hub communication with the PC.
  • Allows low power cases such as headsets to negotiate for only the power they require.


  1. Enables new higher power use cases such as USB bus powered Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) and printers. This eliminates the need for a separate power brick.
  2. A monitor with a supply from the wall can power, or charge, a laptop while still displaying.
  3. USB power bricks or chargers are able to supply power through a laptop’s USB ports.
  4. Laptops and USB power bricks can provide higher power to battery powered devices (not currently defined by USB).
  5. Battery powered devices can get increased charging current from a hub and then give it back temporarily when the user’s HDD requires it.

I really interesting thing about this is how USB Power Delivery is designed to work alongside with the standard USB battery charging implementations. Compliance testing for products conforming to the Power Delivery Specification and the related Power Delivery icons are currently under development. More details to be added here later.

In addition to passing USB-IF compliance testing and inclusion of its Power Delivery products on the Integrators List, companies wishing to use the certified USB logos must have a current on file USB-IF Trademark License Agreement. USB Power Delivery is covered by the relevant adopters agreements for either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 depending on the specification implemented.

Although no specific product announcement have been made concerning USB Power Delivery, the Forum believes we could see some products using the new USB PD standard by spring of 2013, or possibly even the end of 2012. Companies that have thus far shown interest in the technology are Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Nokia and Intel.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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