The Universal Serial Bus has gone through three major revisions so far, with the newest one, USB 3, just now becoming commonplace in new computers. But the USB Implementers Forum, which oversees development of usb standards, is proposing a new version which will be able to carry a great deal more power through the lines, as well as data. The new version will be called USB-PD, for Power Delivery. Final specifications for the standard were established in July, and the first devices using the standard are expected in a few months, perhaps even as soon as the end of 2012.
Comparing the USB standards of the past, we see that USB 2 can carry 2.5 watts of power, and USB 3 can handle 4.5 watts. There is a variation of USB 3 called USB BC, which is intended to recharge batteries in portable devices. It can carry up to 7.5 watts, but is still not widespread. The new USB-PD dwarf’s the previous standards and can handle up to 100 watts, depending on the device being charged and the capacity of the cable.
The backers of this technology intend to have more universal battery charging facilities available for all types of portable devices. In some ways it will come into competition with Intel’s Thunderbolt, which has not gotten widespread support so far, mostly due to cost.
You can read more on this story at CNET.