Maybe USB-C is the answer?


Ah, technology - love it or hate it, there's always something new to explore. Hardware is not as fun as software, but the software needs the hardware and vice versa. With everything moving towards less and less ports, maybe USB-C is the answer.

Thunderbolt all the things

In a previous post, we explored why having Thunderbolt replace all the things was a good idea. It can do everything: audio, video, data, communication, relay, power delivery, simultaneous transmission, has multiple lanes, and can replace all the ports, from HDMI, DisplayPort, USB-A, USB-B, Ethernet, audio, power, and more. It can be daisy-chained, so one device can connect to the next, and act as a mini network.

But implementing Thunderbolt is expensive. Having been developed by both Intel and Apple, and now controlled entirely by Intel, manufacturers need additional hardware inside their laptops/desktops to enable Thunderbolt, as well as having the port on the outside.

Dell has some interesting Thunderbolt monitors on the way; and LG recently released Thunderbolt monitors for Mac and Windows.

Thunderbolt uses the same port shape as USB-C, and is differentiated by the controller inside the computer, and externally by a lightning bolt / thunderbolt symbol next to the port.

Maybe USB-C is the answer

Perhaps USB-C is the answer. USB-C can do almost everything that Thunderbolt can do.

Although, it has less lanes, is a little slower, can't be daisy-chained, and probably doesn't have adequate bandwidth to drive multiple monitors to the same extent that Thunderbolt does.

However, USB-C is much easier for manufacturers to implement on a PC, and works with laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, and other gadgets, and can replace everything that used to have a USB-A port, from your mouse and keyboard to an external hard drive.

USB certified speeds are increasing. The current USB3.1 spec is about to be bumped up to USB-3.2, and gain a few more features on top of the increased speed.

Dell recently released a USB-C connected monitor that has an integrated USB hub. This is one example of the future of USB-C taking over the role of many ports, such as HDMI, DisplayPort, and power delivery.

The near future

In 2018 and 2019, we'll see more and more budget and mid-tier laptops embrace USB-C-only, and the higher-tier laptops embrace Thunderbolt-only.

Monitors will become the hub. Plug in all your other accessories to your monitor's hub, and then have one cable from your monitor to your laptop or PC box.

I also expect GPUs from Nvidia and AMD to move away from HDMI and DisplayPort, toward Thunderbolt as a universal connection.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas

XYZtech

XYZ Media Group

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