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Overall Growth Trend for USB Type-C Market to Continue
2023 Mar
During an economic downturn, the factors that drive growth in the USB Type-C segment may change, but the overall growth trend is likely to continue.

Article By : Terrance Shih, VIA Labs

During the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for new PCs, smart devices, and related peripherals reached new heights as students and office workers prepared to work from home. At that time, semiconductor companies focused on navigating a constrained supply chain and ensuring availability.
Today, as life returns to normal and people go back to school or the office, many companies face lower-than-expected sales and issues with excess inventory. A common reaction across the industry has been to reduce spending by slowing down new product development and canceling projects, though these reactions may only be partially warranted.
The current drop in demand has not been precipitated by a categorical diminishment in the long-term necessity or utility of PCs and smart devices. Instead, the explosive growth experienced during the pandemic years shifted the demand curve. These products are essential for work and education, making typical demand relatively inelastic, though the regular 2-5 year upgrade and replacement cycle still applies.
2023 marks the third year of the pandemic, and with the gradual rollout and maturity of several technologies launched a few years prior, growth in the USB Type-C segment will be led by USB4 and USB Power Delivery (USB PD). USB4 hit the market in 2020, but support was very limited at the time. Today, it has become prevalent in modern laptop platforms and will expand to other form factors in 2024.
This year, the introduction of host platforms that can take advantage of the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) standard’s new Extended Power Range (EPR) capabilities that increase power output from 100W up to 240W is also expected. Lastly, the European Union’s new directive for common chargers for large swaths of the consumer electronic market and Apple’s expected adoption of USB Type-C for its iPhone and entry-level iPad products will help drive growth in the near term. VIA Labs, Inc (VLI) is a leading supplier of USB-related chips commonly found in USB Type-C adapters and port expansion products, and from the company’s perspective, there is a lot to look forward to in 2023.
The USB4 specification builds upon the USB Type-C interface, significantly improving data transmission speeds while enabling the simultaneous transmission of multiple protocols, such as PCIe, DisplayPort, and SuperSpeed USB. USB4 shares the same protocol as Thunderbolt(TM) 4 and can dynamically allocate bandwidth to ensure smooth data, video, and audio performance.
VIA Labs is the first third-party company to launch and ship USB4 device controllers. The VIA Lab’s VL830 is a USB4 Endpoint device controller, supporting the full 40Gbps bandwidth of the USB4 specification and offering the essential combination of SuperSpeed USB and DisplayPort connectivity. VL830 integrates a USB 3.2 10Gbps Hub, USB 2.0 hub with MTT, and a DisplayPort 1.4a output with up to 4-Lane HBR3 (32.4Gbps) support, enabling it to support SuperSpeed USB data transfers simultaneously and either dual 4K or a single 8K display without compression when paired with modern Intel, AMD, or Apple host systems. VL830 represents a simple yet significant upgrade over products based on DisplayPort Alternate Mode by offering up to double the video bandwidth. Several USB4 peripheral devices based on VL830 are already on store shelves, with many more in the pipeline.
With the release of the USB Power Delivery 3.1 specification, the maximum charging rate of USB Type-C was increased from 100W to 240W. Previously, the 100W limit was sufficient for 14″ and smaller laptops, but higher-powered 15″ or larger models with discrete graphics cards relied on proprietary charging connectors. While the USB PD 3.1 specification was released in 2021, adoption has been slow. However, with the expected release of the USB PD 3.1 EPR compliance and certification testing program in 2023, more vendors are expected to launch products featuring the new charging modes, and VLI has introduced the VL108 to take advantage of the opportunity.
VIA Lab’s VL108 is a highly integrated USB PD 3.1 and DP Alt-mode controller that supports the new Extended Power Range (EPR) charging capabilities. It is intended for USB Type-C peripherals and has been optimized for multi-function docks with charge-through functionality. With an integrated USB-C charging upstream-facing port, VL108 can enable video output from a host system using USB4 or DP Alt-mode while simultaneously providing power to the host. VL108 also features two integrated USB Type-C dual-role downstream-facing ports that can connect to a USB PD power adapter for charging functionality, a USB Type-C device for data transfers, or even a USB Type-C video converter. All ports support EPR, enabling up to 48V at 5A (240W) operation.
USB Type-C is the predominant power, video, and high-speed data transmission interface for most laptops, tablets and iPads, Android devices, and soon, the iPhone. On October 4th, the European Union gave final approval for its common charger directive, setting out new essential requirements for various consumer electronic devices. It mandates that by 2024, the USB Type-C connector must be used, and if the device is capable of wired charging at voltages >5V, currents >3A, or powers higher than 15 Watts, it must also support USB Power Delivery. The directive also covers computer keyboards, mice, digital cameras, wireless headphones/headsets, portable speakers, GPS devices, e-book readers, and hand-held video game consoles. Rapid market growth for USB Type-C and USB PD controllers is anticipated, and VIA Labs is ready with the VL320 USB PD sink-side controller.
The VL320 is a simplified PD controller for consumer electronic devices without USB data transmission capability. It’s designed to provide a simple DC Connector Upgrade path to USB Type-C for products currently using a traditional barrel or otherwise proprietary connectors, enabling manufacturers to utilize USB PD-compatible power adapters effortlessly. VL320 also brings modern conveniences that are not typical for simple electronic devices, such as programmable product traceability parameters. VL320 has been designed for minimal BOM and footprint requirements and features a small QFN-20 4x4mm package.
According to the latest USB-IF report, shipments of USB Type-C equipped devices grew slightly to 2.7 billion units in 2022 and are expected to reach 3.2 billion units by 2023. The USB Type-C ecosystem will continue to grow, and VIA Labs will continue actively support and participate in technical organizations and standards bodies that are the basis for the next generation of products.
VLI will continue increasing the market share of its electronic products by leveraging its unique design flexibility by implementing the latest USB Standards, expanding cross-domain coverage in data, video, and power-related functions, and providing products featuring higher levels of integration as market segments mature.
About the Author
Terrance Shih is the Director of Business Development at VIA Labs.

This article is also published on EE Times Asia.
Overall Growth Trend for USB Type-C Market to Continue