How the Updated USB Specification Could Save your Device.

There is good news for the consumer market. The USB-IF just released the USB Power Delivery Firmware Update Specification! Who is USB-IF and why is this USB Power Delivery Specification important for consumers?

The USB Implementers Forum (also known as USB-IF) is a non-profit corporation made up of a group of companies that have come together to develop standard specifications for the Universal Serial Bus (USB). Without the USB-IF, designers and manufacturers would have free-reign to develop and sell products on the open market that would be unreliable, incompatible and potentially dangerous. This is where the USB-IF steps in.

 USB-IF-logo

 

Any device that carries the USB logo must meet the specifications outlined by the USB-IF. The USB-IF has been working feverishly to stay ahead of the oncoming demand for USB Type-C. In continuance of this, The USB organization has just published the  Power Delivery Firmware Update specification. This specification defines a standard mechanism for updating the firmware of a Power Delivery (PD) product, over the Type-C “CC” wire.

Why does updating the firmware of PD over the CC wire have its own spec? I have a one-word answer - Security.  Chargers, hubs, docks, DisplayPort and other video adapters, even USB Type-C cables include microcontrollers in them; these microcontrollers have firmware that is essential to control their operation.

The firmware functionality depends on the type of device, but typically it controls PD communication with the outside world, advertisement of capabilities, charger parameters, and video protocol implementation. Previously, the only way to update this firmware was through a vendor-specific mechanism, which was extremely cumbersome, if at all possible. With a standard approach, this can be built into the operating systems of Type-C phones, tablets, and PCs, enabling all devices to be used with the latest firmware. In addition to the ability to include security fixes, products can be updated as compatibility problems are discovered and addressed.

In short, this new standard will help streamline the use and application of these USB cables and ports and protect consumers from rogue devices. This will make USB Type-C more powerful and reliable than ever before.

Total Phase is proud to be part of the group that defined and published this standard and works towards helping customers with the USB products. Total Phase offers the USB Power Delivery Analyzer to monitor the PD packets on the bus and also the Advanced Cable Tester to help report the capabilities of Type-C cables.

USB Power Delivery Analyzer  Promira cable tester
Figure 1: USB Power Delivery Analyzer Figure 2: Advanced Cable Tester

 

Need more details?  Contact us at sales@totalphase.com, or if you already own one of our devices and have a technical question, please submit a request for technical support.

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