If you thought your computer’s USB port’s primary use was moving data quickly, you might be in for a surprise. Almost two years ago, the GSMA mobile communications industry association, based in Europe announced it was finally going to get behind a universal charging standard. The funny thing is that China had actually had the framework for a standard since 2006! Or, maybe the funnier thing is that the US doesn’t have any standard yet?
Well, at least the European and Chinese mobile industry groups and regulatory agencies got the message: Users are tired of having to buy new (and incredibly over priced) chargers every time they got a new cell phone or mobile device! At least there’s some commonality to these standardization efforts – the humble USB port.
That’s right, soon USB ports will be the standard charging interface for all new mobile phones, smart phones, GPS devices, and many other mobile electronics. By standardizing on a standard charging cable and interface, it’s going to do more than save money and consumer frustration. All of those quickly-outdated phone and mobile device chargers were filling up landfills. Beyond that, many of these chargers continued to draw a small amount of power from AC outlets even while they weren’t charging anything – a phenomenon called “phantom” or “standby” power draw.
At Texas Instruments, this is great news for us – and users everywhere. When there is a common standard the industry has agreed upon, we can put together a really integrated, cost-effective solution – and for USB charging, we’re making it really easy for any piece of equipment with a USB port to charge these new, standards-compliant mobile devices.
TI’s got a huge portfolio of USB power switches – basically current-limited switches that reside on the host-side of USB ports that safely provide the 5V of power USB ports have always distributed. (If you want more info on these devices in general, have a look at the video we shot describing them.) But you’ll want to especially pay attention to the newly released TPS2540. It combines a current-limiting switch with the special signaling intelligence these new universal charging standards require to charge these devices as quickly as possible. This video describes the standard, and the TPS2540, in more detail.
So, if you’re working on an embedded PC application that might charge mobile devices – or something more familiar to consumers, like an LCD TV, Set Top Box, or notebook PC – this charging standard is something your users will appreciate. The TPS2540 web page also has some good info if you are interested. Or check out the forum to see if other engineers have any feedback posted. And I'm always interested in what you have to say about this standard, so please feel free to add your comments below!