Friday, October 1st 2021

USB-IF Brings New USB Certification Logos to Help Consumers Buy the Right Cables and Chargers

Last week, the EU Commission announced that it's working towards making USB-C the universal standard for charging portable electronics and this week, the USB-IF is bringing new Certified USB Type-C cable and Certified USB4 logos to help consumers figure out what is what. However, the USB-IF is also pointing out that consumers should only buy Certified USB products from trusted sources, suggesting that there are a lot of products in the market that don't meet the various USB specifications.

The new logos can be seen below and the first one is for devices that support 40 Gbps speeds over USB. Keep in mind that although USB4 is broadly based on Thunderbolt 3, the cables aren't going to be exactly the same, but that some USB4 implementations can also support Thunderbolt 4, just to complicate things a little bit extra. This logo can also be used with 40 Gbps capable ports on devices.
The second new logo is for cables supporting 240 W charging, i.e. 48 V at 5 A. This is a lot higher Voltage than current cables, that top out at either 20 V and 5 A, as long as the cable has an E-marker chip built into each connector, or 20 V and 3 A for cables without such a chip. Presumably the new cables will require an updated E-marker chip, as the USB-IF only offers certification logos for 60 W and 240 W cables, suggesting that anything over 60 W will use the same E-marker chip.

Finally there's a logo for 240 W certified chargers, although, oddly enough, this logo is only mandatory on the packaging, so it won't help people to quickly identify a higher-end charger by simply looking for the logo. On the other hand, the USB-IF is also offering combined logos of the 40 Gbps and 240 W certified logos, but only for cables if the logo is to be printed on the device itself.

Hopefully this will help clear things up a bit for the average consumer, but often these logos aren't printed on the packaging and rarely used properly online. Having a quick look at Amazon, some 20 Gbps cables are shown with the USB 2.0 Hi-Speed certified logo, others seemingly claiming to support eGPUs and most, even from known brands, have no logos at all, yet claiming to be 20 Gbps and 100 W capable. If the USB-IF can't even make its members put the logo on their products, yet warning consumers to only buy certified products, what chance does the consumers have to know what they're buying?
Sources: USB-IF (PDF), via The Verge
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44 Comments on USB-IF Brings New USB Certification Logos to Help Consumers Buy the Right Cables and Chargers

#2
BSim500
USB has to be the single-most confusingly marketed tech standard imaginable:-

Q. "Hey can I plug a PCI-E 4.0 GPU into a PCI-E 3.0 motherboard?"

A. "Depends. Is it a PCI-E v3.1 Generation 1 or PCI-E v3.1 Generation 2 socket. I mean you need to check PCI-E Superspeed 5 vs 10 vs 20 vs 40Gbps bandwidth. And make sure the 10x different available shaped (A 2.0) vs (B 2.0) vs (A 3.0) vs (B 3.0) vs (Mini A) vs (Mini B) vs (Micro A) vs (Micro B 2.0) vs (Micro B 3.0) vs (C) PCI-E cards & sockets all match up. Oh, and double check the 3 different 5v vs 20v vs 48v voltages too"...

"Christ, someone bring back Vesa Local Bus already. 'Put the biggest card in the biggest socket'. I got that."
Posted on Reply
#3
TheLostSwede
BSim500USB has to be the single-most confusingly marketed tech standard imaginable:-

Q. "Hey can I plug a PCI-E 4.0 GPU into a PCI-E 3.0 motherboard?"

A. "Depends. Is it a PCI-E v3.1 Generation 1 or PCI-E v3.1 Generation 2 socket. I mean you need to check PCI-E Superspeed 5 vs 10 vs 20 vs 40Gbps bandwidth. And make sure the 10x different available shaped (A 2.0) vs (B 2.0) vs (A 3.0) vs (B 3.0) vs (Mini A) vs (Mini B) vs (Micro A) vs (Micro B 2.0) vs (Micro B 3.0) vs (C) PCI-E cards & sockets all match up. Oh, and double check the 3 different 5v vs 20v vs 48v voltages too"...

"Christ, someone bring back Vesa Local Bus already. 'Put the biggest card in the biggest socket'. I got that."
But this is why the USB-IF is providing the logos to make it easy for consumers...
Posted on Reply
#4
Nyek
For the ones having a powerful laptop +100W, a single USB-C charger it's the real deal.
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#5
Vader
People like to bash USB naming everytime they come with a new logo or naming scheme. But the truth is that there is a lot of work happening in the background to make sure that things work in what is a chaotic, ever-evolving world of USB devices that need to meet complex electrical and data needs. Could they have done better? Sure. But they did a tremendous job bringing things to what they are today
Posted on Reply
#6
londiste
TheLostSwedeBut this is why the USB-IF is providing the logos to make it easy for consumers...
Honestly, the logos suck. They should hire a designer to start from scratch.
Posted on Reply
#7
TheLostSwede
londisteHonestly, the logos suck. They should hire a designer to start from scratch.
But that costs money... This was done for free in MS Paint...
VaderPeople like to bash USB naming everytime they come with a new logo or naming scheme. But the truth is that there is a lot of work happening in the background to make sure that things work in what is a chaotic, ever-evolving world of USB devices that need to meet complex electrical and data needs. Could they have done better? Sure. But they did a tremendous job bringing things to what they are today
The problem is that the USB-IF is making things more complex than it had to be with their bizarre naming schemes, although they're not alone. The only other direct consumer having technology that is worse would be Bluetooth.
Yes, the technology isn't half bad, but it's too hard for consumers to figure out what is what and when the USB-IF doesn't control its members and make sure products are clearly labelled, it gets even harder. I don't have a single USB cable with any USB-IF logo beyond the original text free USB logo.
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#8
Sykobee
londisteHonestly, the logos suck. They should hire a designer to start from scratch.
Yeah, they look like the worst sort of American logo design from the 80s and 90s.

The logos are too busy.

USB 4 should be USB 4, there should be a baseline for power and bandwidth. If there are grades above, they should be limited and meaningful. You don't have much space on a USB plug though for all those curved lines and rubbish.

"USB 4"
==> USB 4 100W 40Gbps (baseline)

"USB 4
240" (two lines, to fit on the USB plug)
==> USB 4 240W 40Gbps

USB sockets are a different thing, there's even less space for a tiny embossed symbol. We know that Type C is USB or DisplayPort or Thunderbolt, the last two have their own logos, so USB just needs VERSION (bandwidth) and Power (supply or input). Power could be a series of power-zap-symbols, like the chilli rating on an indian takeaway menu (except they look like thunderbolt symbols). Example of three ports on a system:

40 20 10
240 100
<==> <==> <==>

So there are three things, USB generation, USB power, USB bandwidth
Oh, and 'Thunderbolt support' as it now appears that USB 4 isn't actually 100% Thunderbolt? What?
Posted on Reply
#10
Khonjel
I'm convinced USB naming convention is in this dire state is because the representatives from Intel propose and push the changes during the meetings and reps from other companies don't even bother attending.
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#11
Wirko
SykobeeUSB 4 should be USB 4, there should be a baseline for power and bandwidth. If there are grades above, they should be limited and meaningful. You don't have much space on a USB plug though for all those curved lines and rubbish.

"USB 4"
==> USB 4 100W 40Gbps (baseline)

"USB 4
240" (two lines, to fit on the USB plug)
==> USB 4 240W 40Gbps

USB sockets are a different thing, there's even less space for a tiny embossed symbol. We know that Type C is USB or DisplayPort or Thunderbolt, the last two have their own logos, so USB just needs VERSION (bandwidth) and Power (supply or input). Power could be a series of power-zap-symbols, like the chilli rating on an indian takeaway menu (except they look like thunderbolt symbols). Example of three ports on a system:

40 20 10
240 100
<==> <==> <==>

So there are three things, USB generation, USB power, USB bandwidth
Oh, and 'Thunderbolt support' as it now appears that USB 4 isn't actually 100% Thunderbolt? What?
It's not "USB 4". Someone stole the space, just for laughs. Maybe the USB-IF couldn't decide it it was a non-breaking space or not.

Also, 100 watts can't realistically be the baseline. A baseline would be something that you can expect to get from most USB C sockets, whether on chargers, motherboards, PC cases, notebooks, monitors or anywhere else.
Posted on Reply
#13
TheLostSwede
WirkoIt's not "USB 4". Someone stole the space, just for laughs. Maybe the USB-IF couldn't decide it it was a non-breaking space or not.

Also, 100 watts can't realistically be the baseline. A baseline would be something that you can expect to get from most USB C sockets, whether on chargers, motherboards, PC cases, notebooks, monitors or anywhere else.
The base line is 60W apparently, or 9W or...
Posted on Reply
#14
trparky
BSim500"Christ, someone bring back Vesa Local Bus already. 'Put the biggest card in the biggest socket'. I got that."
What's sad is that I know that VESA Local Bus is. :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#15
TheinsanegamerN
TheLostSwedeBut this is why the USB-IF is providing the logos to make it easy for consumers...
So they're adding more logos ontot he logos they already had. This does not fix anything.
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#16
TheUn4seen
This seems reasonable. Unusually reasonable for USB-IF, I wonder what otherworldly confusion are they working on now.
Posted on Reply
#17
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
TheLostSwedeThe second new logo is for cables supporting 240 W charging, i.e. 48 V at 5 A.
48v is high enough to start being a shock hazard, especially with wet / sweaty hands. Couple that with a weak heart and someone could die. Not sure I like the sound of this. It must be safety first at all times.
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#18
IceShroom
The is only way to clean up USB. Kick out Apple and Intel and Thunderbolt from the USB Forum. The parasite Thunderbolt is killing the Universal part of the USB standart. USB alreay can do Video out using DP Alt-mode, so why USB connector need a another similar protocol like. What USB needs is lower letency and better performenc, not being host for a parasitic standard like Thunderbolt.

If Apple and Intel is that much innovative, then they need to create new connector for their parasite Thunderbolt instead of taking USB Type-C as their host to suck on and make it useless for people who really using it.
Posted on Reply
#19
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
TheLostSwedeBut that costs money... This was done for free in MS Paint...


The problem is that the USB-IF is making things more complex than it had to be with their bizarre naming schemes, although they're not alone. The only other direct consumer having technology that is worse would be Bluetooth.
Yes, the technology isn't half bad, but it's too hard for consumers to figure out what is what and when the USB-IF doesn't control its members and make sure products are clearly labelled, it gets even harder. I don't have a single USB cable with any USB-IF logo beyond the original text free USB logo.
Majority of consumers just need to see USB *.*, not bandwidth.
Posted on Reply
#20
TheLostSwede
trparkyWhat's sad is that I know that VESA Local Bus is. :laugh:
You're not the only one that's old here...
qubit48v is high enough to start being a shock hazard, especially with wet / sweaty hands. Couple that with a weak heart and someone could die. Not sure I like the sound of this. It must be safety first at all times.
Hence the E-mark chip, as initial Voltage is only 5V and no more than 3A. Higher Voltages can only be accessed after the charger and the device have made trade negotiations and agreed on reasonable terms for both sides negotiated what can be delivered and what the device needs.
Posted on Reply
#21
OC-Ghost
qubit48v is high enough to start being a shock hazard, especially with wet / sweaty hands. Couple that with a weak heart and someone could die. Not sure I like the sound of this. It must be safety first at all times.
USB is not a wall socket, it handshakes at 5V or below and then checks with your USB chip if it can shock you at 48V :P
Posted on Reply
#22
TheLostSwede
eidairaman1Majority of consumers just need to see USB *.*, not bandwidth.
Exactly, but hasn't anyone stopped and wondered why the data they're copying to their new external SSD is taking as long time as it did with their old external hard drive?
Posted on Reply
#23
zlobby
qubit48v is high enough to start being a shock hazard, especially with wet / sweaty hands. Couple that with a weak heart and someone could die. Not sure I like the sound of this. It must be safety first at all times.
48V is really dangerous. It's chosen as a standard voltage for a reason, especially common in telco/datacenter equipment.

But remember! It's the current that kills, not voltage!
Posted on Reply
#24
DeathtoGnomes
Hopefully this will help clear things up a bit for the average consumer
And yet, it will only be understood by those with an IQ over 99 and the tech savvy. I even venture to guess there will be those that still say this is too complicated, the 'I want only one cable to understand" crowd.
Posted on Reply
#25
Nanochip
IceShroomThe is only way to clean up USB. Kick out Apple and Intel and Thunderbolt from the USB Forum. The parasite Thunderbolt is killing the Universal part of the USB standart. USB alreay can do Video out using DP Alt-mode, so why USB connector need a another similar protocol like. What USB needs is lower letency and better performenc, not being host for a parasitic standard like Thunderbolt.

If Apple and Intel is that much innovative, then they need to create new connector for their parasite Thunderbolt instead of taking USB Type-C as their host to suck on and make it useless for people who really using it.
How are you going to kick out Intel from the USB-IF, when it was Intel who designed USB in the first place :laugh: ?? Not only that, Intel also donated thunderbolt3 to the USB-IF for USB4 to be able to add pcie tunneling and 40 gbps speeds. Intel also wrote most of the USB4 drivers for the Linux Kernel. But yet you want to kick them out.

Also, what is your issue with thunderbolt? It works just fine on my box, it’s an externalization of the pcie bus, and is very versatile… rather than take up room inside a case, I can externally install some of my pcie devices (such as an Aquantia 10gbps lan adapter and nvme storage). And with a thunderbolt 4 hub, I can add 3 additional thunderbolt4 ports. This is extremely flexible and versatile. And when USB4 finally comes, it will bring thunderbolt-like functionality to the masses. This is a good thing.
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