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Linköping micro-LED spin-off Polar Light Technologies appoints CEO

Semiconductor today - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 16:17
Polar Light Technologies (PLT) — which stems from research by founder professor Per-Olof Holtz and his team at Sweden’s Linköping University — has appointed Oskar Fajerson as CEO to lead it through the final stages of research and into commercialization of its micro-LED technology...

Servotech Power Systems Advances India’s EV Charging Industry with In-house Components Manufacturing

ELE Times - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 13:24

Servotech Power Systems Ltd., a driving force in India’s electric vehicle (EV) charging sector, announced a strategic initiative to bolster the nation’s self-sufficiency in critical EV charger components. To achieve this goal, Servotech has secured a technical collaboration with a leading international company.

Servotech is constructing a cutting-edge manufacturing facility focused on the production of Power Modules, Control Circuits, and PLCs – essential elements at the core of EV chargers. This move marks a decisive shift away from reliance on imports and positions India as a key player in the global EV charger supply chain.

The new plant will have an initial annual production capacity of 24,000 power modules and will ramp up its production capacity to 2.4 lakh power modules annually in order to cater with the rapidly growing Indian EV market which will require around 6 lakh units annually. This scalable approach demonstrates Servotech’s ambition to capture a significant share of the expanding EV charging sector.

Commenting on this announcement Arun Handa, Chief Technical Officer, Servotech Power Systems Ltd. said “Our goal is to make Servotech a preferred supplier of EV Chargers as well as preferred OEM supplier of Power Modules for Indian EV Charger manufacturers. By establishing a robust domestic supply chain, we contribute to the overall growth of the EV ecosystem, making charging solutions more affordable and accessible to a wider public.”

Key Milestones and Benefits:
The new plant is expected to be fully operational by December 2024.
This initiative will directly contribute to:
o Reduced reliance on imported components.
o Creation of high-skilled jobs within India.
o Economic growth in the technology sector.
o Advancement of India’s EV charging capabilities.

Servotech Power Systems Ltd. stands committed to spearheading India’s transition to clean energy solutions. This strategic investment in indigenous manufacturing reinforces the company’s dedication to providing dependable, cost-effective, and readily available EV charging solutions throughout the nation.

The post Servotech Power Systems Advances India’s EV Charging Industry with In-house Components Manufacturing appeared first on ELE Times.

Alpha-Numero’s Global Reach in Delivering End-to-End Enterprise Solutions

ELE Times - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 12:57

As a market specialist in hardware engineering, avionics design and development, telecom solutions, and services, automotive, and medical and healthcare, Alpha-Numero is a global brand operating in India, Canada, Germany, and the USA. Their top-notch deliverables in VLSI design, semiconductor testing, FPGA design, and embedded systems expertise are quality-assured. Team Alpha-Numero is well-renowned for providing high-quality services in SAP, IT software, BI & Analytics, and Mechanical Engineering & Design to a wide range of industries.

Mr. Sukanta Mitra, Co-Founder of Alpha-Numero Technology Solutions Inc.

Rashi Bajpai, Sub-Editor at ELE Times had an opportunity to interact with Mr. Sukanta Mitra, Co-Founder of Alpha-Numero Technology Solutions Inc. and the Founder of MetricsNumero – a specialized brand under the Alpha-Numero Group. The conversation highlights the organization’s core competencies and expertise in several booming technologies and industries. 

This is an excerpt from the interview. 

ELE Times: What services does Alpha-Numero provide to the Aerospace & Defence, Automotive, and Electronics Industries?

Mr Mitra: We specialise in providing comprehensive product design services for the Aerospace & Defence, Automotive, and Electronics Industries. In the domain of automotive, aerospace, and avionics, our focus lies in embedded hardware and software design. This encompasses a wide range of services, including ASIC design, chip design, FPGA design, board design, hardware design, and embedded software design. Simply put, our expertise covers the entire product design process, starting from specification development to chip or silicon creation, hardware and software design, and system-level integration. We also excel in design verification and validation, ensuring the quality and reliability of the final product.

For instance, in the avionics domain, we undertake critical design work for systems such as flight control systems and cockpit display systems in commercial aircraft. Our involvement spans from the initial chip or ASIC design to FPGA-level implementation. We collaborate not only with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Boeing or Airbus but also with key Tier 1 companies in the aerospace sector, including Collins Aerospace, BAE Systems, and Honeywell. Moreover, our engagement extends to regulatory bodies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)– a crucial entity for certifying products for use in aircraft. This comprehensive approach underscores our commitment to delivering high-quality and certified solutions in the aerospace and automotive industries. Additionally, our commitment extends to regulatory compliance and certification processes. We engage with organisations like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a crucial U.S. government agency responsible for certifying aviation products.

Similarly in the automotive domain, our services extend across the entire product design spectrum. We focus on components such as steering control systems and brake control systems. We also specialise in embedded software and hardware design, development, and the verification and validation processes for multiple OEMs. Likewise, when it comes to consumer electronics, our collaboration extends to chip design and semiconductor solutions. We also collaborate with leading companies such as Intel and AMD in the semiconductor and VLSI domains. So, overall, Alpha-Numero’s expertise lies in end-to-end design services, ranging from initial specifications to the development of embedded hardware and software for a diverse range of products in these industries.

ELE Times: What in your view is the role of cybersecurity in the Defence and Aerospace sector?

Mr Mitra: Cybersecurity’s role in the defence and aerospace sector is immensely crucial. Globally, there is a concerning trend where hackers breach systems and demand ransom for the compromised data. A similar incident occurred a few months ago, where a prominent company collaborating with the US military and defence had its entire system hacked, which resulted in heavy financial losses. Another example of a cyberattack in the public domain is Johnson Control, where a ransomware attack compromised highly sensitive data. The attackers also demanded a substantial amount of money, potentially in the millions or billions. Such attacks have become increasingly frequent, which highlights the need for organisations, especially those involved in defence and aerospace, to have robust cybersecurity measures in place. Neglecting cybersecurity could render any system vulnerable, as demonstrated by these instances. Moreover, without proper cybersecurity measures, there’s a risk that advanced technologies, including cloud-based systems, could be exploited. Also, with advancing technology, the risk of unauthorised external control, especially in aviation, could endanger the lives of hundreds on board. This vulnerability poses a severe threat, as external entities might potentially gain control over vital systems such as aircraft, putting the lives of hundreds of people at risk. Thus, it is imperative to embrace cybersecurity to prevent such scenarios.

Considering these challenges, Alpha-Numero is actively contributing to cybersecurity in the defence and aerospace sectors. We are assembling a team comprising industry veterans, cybersecurity experts, and promising newcomers. Our team-building approach involves recruiting experienced individuals from the industry and under them, we provide our workforce with comprehensive training in cybersecurity. collaboration with technology training providers, particularly focusing on defence-related aspects in both the US and India. In this process, we collaborate with multiple companies specialising in technology training, aligning with both defence sectors in the US and non-defense industries in India.

We expect to have a fully functional team within the next two quarters. However, it’s important to note that the cybersecurity services and related activities will not be directly managed by Alpha-Numero. Instead, these responsibilities will be overseen by MetricsNumero – another entity within our organisation.

ELE Times: Brief us on your work in Asset Tracking, Smart Mining, and Smart Building, in the IoT segment, technology implications, and application areas.

Mr Mitra: Alpha-Numero has ventured into the expansive domain of IoT, specifically focusing on Asset Tracking, Smart Mining, and Smart Building solutions. Our initial foray includes executing programs in the southern part of India, particularly in mines. We are designing these smart mining solutions to track the movement and activities of labourers within the mines. The system not only monitors their movements but also captures additional parameters to ensure their safety and well-being. This program has been designed to enhance the overall operational efficiency and safety measures within the mining industry.

Asset Tracking is another area of focus for us. We are in the early stages of developing sensor-based solutions for tracking assets. This aligns with our expertise in product design services, which has traditionally been centred around the avionics and automotive industries. The foray into sensor-based IoT solutions for asset tracking represents a strategic expansion for Alpha-Numero.

However, our foray into sensor-based IoT solutions, particularly in asset tracking, is still in its early stages. The implementation of IoT in these domains requires careful consideration of technological implications and the unique requirements of each application area, and thus, we are proceeding cautiously. Alpha-Numero primarily specialises in product design services for avionics and automotive industries. The exploration of sensor-based IoT solutions for asset tracking and industries such as mining represents a gradual expansion of our capabilities within these domains. As we delve deeper into sensor-based solutions, we anticipate further advancements and broader applications in the domains of asset tracking and beyond.

ELE Times: What kind of solutions does Alpha-Numero provide in the Medical and Healthcare field?

Mr Mitra: Alpha-Numero specialises in providing solutions within the medical and healthcare field, particularly in collaboration with major US OEMs. The focus lies in establishing an R&D centre in India to work closely with these giants on various fronts. Alpha-Numero is actively involved in providing solutions in the medical and healthcare sector, particularly focusing on stringent processes. We create medical devices such as stents and catheters, adhering to the rigorous regulatory standards set by organisations like the FDA.

Secondly, we are exploring opportunities in the development of iOS and Android applications for advanced medical devices. For instance, we are actively involved in creating modern medical devices, such as contactless pacemakers. These advanced devices eliminate the need for physical attachment to the body and can be monitored remotely. The monitoring involves the use of electric signals to assess both the patient’s health and the functionality of the device. This involves the development of IOS and Android-based applications for remote monitoring of patients’ health and device functionality. Updates and upgrades to software are also part of our service offerings in this domain.

We are also in the process of establishing an R&D team that will collaborate with leading companies in the medical and healthcare sector to provide engineering and software services. Moreover, to meet the regulatory requirements of the FDA, we are identifying engineers within its team for specialised training. What’s more, we have initiated basic training and plans to progress to more advanced levels to ensure FDA compliance. However, the FDA-related aspects will be handled by our group company, MetricsNumero.

ELE Times: Help us understand your expertise in semiconductor testing, embedded systems and VLSI design.

Mr Mitra: Alpha-Numero specialises in the core competencies of semiconductor testing, embedded systems, and VLSI (Very Large-Scale Integration) design. The avionics industry has witnessed a shift from ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) design due to its high cost and potential risks. Instead, the industry has embraced FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) design. Our expertise extends not only to FPGA design but also to system-level design, verification, and validation.

We also have contributed to multiple Boeing programs since our inception, besides demonstrating a strong track record of success. Furthermore, our focus on VLSI verification, validation, and semiconductor expertise is fundamental to our core capabilities. In addition, we collaborate with larger industry players that lack similar expertise in VLSI, Verilog, and the semiconductor domain. Through such collaborative efforts, we aim to work with these companies, and leverage their proficiency to provide our services to their customers with specific needs in the semiconductor domain. This collaborative approach serves as a mutually beneficial arrangement, besides creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

The post Alpha-Numero’s Global Reach in Delivering End-to-End Enterprise Solutions appeared first on ELE Times.

Teledyne e2v HiRel releases rad-tolerant S-band LNA for high-rel space and radar applications

Semiconductor today - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 11:55
Teledyne e2v HiRel Electronics of Milpitas, CA, USA (part of the Teledyne Defense Electronics Group that provides solutions, sub-systems and components to the space, transportation, defense and industrial markets) has announced the availability of the TDLNA2050SEP radiation-tolerant S-band low-noise amplifier (LNA), suitable for demanding high-reliability, space and radar applications where low noise figure, minimal power consumption and small package footprint are critical to mission success. Developed on a 90nm enhancement-mode pseudomorphic high-electron-mobility transistor (pHEMT) process, the new LNA is available in an 8-pin dual-flat no-lead (DFN) 2mm x 2mm x 0.75mm plastic surface-mount package, and is qualified per MIL‑PRF‑38534 Class K...

ADI and the BMW Group Join Forces to Provide Industry-Leading 10Mb Ethernet for Automotive, Enabling Software-Defined Vehicles

ELE Times - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 09:46

Analog Devices, Inc. and the BMW Group has announced an early adoption of E²B, ADI’s 10BASE-T1S Ethernet to the Edge bus technology within the automotive industry. Automotive Ethernet connectivity is a key enabler of new, zonal architectures in automotive design and supports automotive megatrends such as software-defined vehicles. The BMW Group will be a leading original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to implement the technology, leveraging ADI’s E²B for their ambient lighting system design in the vehicles of the BMW Group in the future.  

Since 2018, ADI has been working closely with the BMW Group on a new concept to simplify bringing Ethernet to the Edge. At the same time, the IEEE802.3cg Group was defining a new 10Mbps Ethernet standard called 10BASE-T1S, with ADI and the BMW Group among other companies both actively involved. Using ADI’s 10BASE-T1S E²B technology to remove microcontrollers and move software from edge nodes to central processing units, the BMW Group enables an all-hardware edge node while reducing software development and qualification tasks.  

While working alongside ADI on 10BASE-T1S E²B, we joined efforts on a number of key considerations, from simplifying implementation, to cost analysis and design support. The relationship with ADI has enabled us to move more quickly to market with a solution of a zonal architecture for software-defined vehicles,” the BMW Group stated. 

We continue to deeply engage with the BMW Group to understand their next-generation needs and bring further optimized products to aid next-generation architectures, as well as bring continued cooperation on standardization,” said Yasmine King, Vice President, Automotive Cabin Experience at ADI. “10BASE-T1S E²B is a great new addition to our automotive connectivity and networking portfolio, innovated to drive success across different use cases, with the flexibility and scalability to support zonal, domain and hybrid architectures.”  

In-cabin experience continues to be a critical focus for automakers, with driver and passenger expectations becoming more refined. This is especially true of the ambient lighting within the vehicle.  

However, many of today’s lighting solutions are complex to implement, use legacy technologies, and are difficult to scale and update as the number of supported LEDs increases. By leveraging the 10BASE-T1S with E²B technology, OEMs can provide a rich customer experience while also synchronizing lighting with other applications in the vehicle. Fully enabling a software-defined lighting system provides improved flexibility, ease of upgrade, and ease of use. 

This approach to edge connectivity is so sought-after that the automotive industry inside the Open Alliance (opensig.org) is now aiming to standardize a similar solution. ADI, along with the BMW Group and other companies, are actively working with the industry to create an Open Standard implementation,” said Yasmine King.  

The post ADI and the BMW Group Join Forces to Provide Industry-Leading 10Mb Ethernet for Automotive, Enabling Software-Defined Vehicles appeared first on ELE Times.

All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) joins hands with Arm Education and STMicroelectronics to organise the 3rd edition of the contest “The Inventors Challenge -2024”

ELE Times - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 07:18

The Government of India has been focused on developing the country’s semiconductor ecosystem and catalysing India’s rapidly expanding electronics manufacturing industry. These efforts will enable innovation and India’s emergence as a global hub for electronics manufacturing and design. The Inventors Challenge contest is an effort towards strengthening the Government of India’s mission to create a talent pool in the semiconductor domain.

Since 2022, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the Ministry of Education in India, Arm Education and STMicroelectronics have been organizing an annual contest in support of the government’s goal to expand and enrich India’s rapidly growing electronics manufacturing and innovation ecosystem.

In this year’s contest, ‘The Inventors Challenge 2024,’ we continue with the mission to grow the semiconductor talent pool and help nurture innovation across faculty and students.

The competition is open to all faculty and students at engineering Institutes pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate courses in India. This is a team event. Each team should have one faculty and up to four students. The idea should be based on Sustainability, Mobility and Artificial Intelligence

The Inventors Challenge has reiterated our belief on the importance of the industry-academia knowledge sharing. The initiative was well received and the feedback from participants has further strengthened our belief to continue such interactions, leading to the launch “The Inventors Challenge -2024” Prof. T.G. Sitharam, Chairman, AICTE

More details can be found on https://community.arm.com/the-inventors-challenge-2024/

Manoj Kumar, Director of Innovation at STMicroelectronics India said: “ST aims to inspire developers to become skilled by integrating agile learning and providing inclusive, hands-on mentoring. The Inventors Challenge builds and reinforces our dedication to nurture and empower the next generation with the entrepreneurial spirit that’s propelling our nation forward. With the help of AICTE and Arm, we’re proud to support the engineering community and look forward to another year of hosting one of the industry’s most sought-after training competitions.”

“At Arm we believe in the power of technology to build a better world for everyone. Higher a education institutions have a pivotal role to play in enabling technology innovation in the semiconductor ecosystem, and we work closely with academic, industry and government partners to drive technological advancements that will have a positive impact. Following the success of The Inventors Challenge in the past years, we look forward to seeing how this year’s entries will help to progress toward the United Nations Global Goals.” Guru Ganesan, President, Arm India.

The post All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) joins hands with Arm Education and STMicroelectronics to organise the 3rd edition of the contest “The Inventors Challenge -2024” appeared first on ELE Times.

centrifuge speed control

Reddit:Electronics - Thu, 03/07/2024 - 05:43
centrifuge speed control

the speed controller on my centrifuge went out with a bang. it’s not a part i can replace from the manufacture. any ideas how i can make a new one or find a similar circuit to swap in its place? any help is appreciated. thanks!

submitted by /u/getfkdup
[link] [comments]

Phlux shipping 1550nm InGaAs APDs in volume as export orders drive demand

Semiconductor today - Wed, 03/06/2024 - 17:39
Phlux Technology (which was spun out of the UK’s Sheffield University in December 2022) has won a six-figure (GBP)-value export contract and is now shipping production quantities of its 1550nm indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) avalanche photodiode (APD) infrared sensors...

Sorting out USB-C power supplies: Specification deceptions and confusing implementations

EDN Network - Wed, 03/06/2024 - 17:07

Upfront in late November 2023’s most recent edition of the “Holiday Shopping Guide for Engineers” series was my recommendation to pick up a recently-introduced Raspberry Pi 5. But here we are, two months later as I write these words, and the Raspberry Pi 5 is still essentially sold out (echoing, ironically, my commentary introducing that shopping guide section, wherein I documented the longstanding supply constraints of its Raspberry Pi 4 precursor). I know. In my defense, however weak, I’ll note that I did write those words 1.5 months earlier, in mid-October (that excuse didn’t work, did it?). That said, the Raspberry Pi Foundation swears that production will ramp dramatically very soon, with supply improving shortly thereafter. Will it? I don’t know.

I bet at least some of you think that I get “special treatment” with the tech companies in constrained-supply situations like these, don’t you? Ha! Just two weeks ago, I finally gave up waiting on retailer supply and purchased a brand-new 8 GB Raspberry Pi 5 board plus an official case from a guy on eBay. He said he’d accidentally bought two of each and didn’t need the spare combo. Whatever. I didn’t get reseller-marked-up too badly, compared to most of the ridiculous pricing I’m seeing on eBay and elsewhere right now. The 8 GB board MSRP is $80, while that of the case is $10. I paid $123.39 plus tax for the combo, which probably left him with a little (but only a little) profit after covering his hardware costs plus the tax and shipping (or gas) he paid.

Don’t get me started on the Active Cooler shown in the first photo, which, if I wasn’t such a trusting fellow, I might think it doesn’t actually exist. Regardless, I still needed a power supply. A 5 V/3 A supply with a USB-C output such as the Raspberry Pi 15W USB-C Power Supply (standard “kit” for the Raspberry Pi 4, for example) might also work for the Raspberry Pi 5, especially if you only boot off a SD card and don’t have a lot of hooked-up, power-sucking peripherals:

That said, the Raspberry Pi 5’s bootup code will still grumble at you via displayed messages indicating that “current draw to peripherals will be restricted to 600mA.” And if you want to boot off a USB flash stick instead, you’ll need to tweak the config.txt prose first. Don’t even think about trying to boot off the m.2 NVMe SSD HAT (speaking of suspect vaporware) with only a 15 W PSU. And in general, you and I both know that the very first things I’ll likely do when I fire up my board are to run lengthy benchmarks on it, constrain its ventilation flow and see when clock throttling kicks in, try overclocking it, and otherwise abuse it. So yeah…27 W (or more).

The Raspberry Pi 27 W USB-C Power Supply shown above, in its white color option (black is also available) and UK plug option (among several others also available), in all cases matching the variants available with its 15 W sibling, was one obvious candidate. But…I know this is going to surprise you…it’s also near-impossible to track down right now. No problem, I thought. I have a bunch of 30 W USB-C wall warts lying around; I’ll just use one of them. Which, more than 500 words in, is where today’s story really begins.

Problem #1 centers on the term “wall wart”. More accurately, as the Wirecutter points out, I should probably be calling them “chargers” because fundamentally that’s all they are: power sources for recharging the batteries integrated within various otherwise-untethered devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, etc.). Can you not only recharge a widget’s integrated battery but also simultaneously power that widget from the same charger? Sure, if the output power is high enough to handle this simultaneous-energy multitasking.

But trying to run a non-battery-powered device from a charger can be a recipe for disaster, specifically when that charger’s output power is close to what the device demands (such as my suggested 30 W charger for a Raspberry Pi 5 that wants to suck 27 W). Why? Chargers aren’t exactly known for being predictable in output as the power demands of whatever’s on the other end of the USB-C (which I’m using as an example here, although the concept’s equally relevant to USB-A and other standards) cable increase. As you near supposed “30 W”, for example, the output voltage might sag or, at minimum, exhibit notable ripple. The output current might also droop. Not a huge deal if all you’re doing is recharging a battery; it’ll just take a little longer than it might otherwise. But try to directly power a Raspberry Pi 5 with one? Iceberg dead ahead!

About that “30 W” (Problem #2)…if the wall wart has only one output, you can safely surmise that you’ll get a reasonable facsimile of that power metric out of it. But what if there are two outputs? Or more? And what if you only tap into one of the outputs? Will you get the full spec’d power, or not? The answer is “it depends”, and unfortunately the vendors don’t make it easy to get more precise than that. Here’s an example: remember the 30 W single-port USB-C GaN charger that I dissected around a year ago? Well, VOLTME also makes a two-output 35 W model:

Kudos to the company, as this graphic shows:

When either output is used standalone, it delivers the full 35 W. Use both outputs at the same time, on the other hand, and each is capable of 18 W max. Intuitive, yes? Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, VOLTME’s the exception here, not the norm. Take, for example, the two-output 70 W Spigen GaN charger that I take with me on trips:

It’s smaller and lighter than the single-output conventional-circuitry charger that came with my MacBook Pro. It’s also got enough “umph” (and outputs) to juice up both my laptop and my iPad Pro. Plus, its AC prongs are collapsable; love ‘em when jamming the adapter in my bag. All good so far. But one of the outputs is only 60 W max when used standalone and only 50 W max when used in tandem with the other (20 W max). The more powerful output is the bottom of the two in the above photo. And it’s not marked as such on the front panel for differentiation purposes. Inevitably, in the absence of visual cues to the contrary, I end up plugging my laptop into the upper, weaker output port instead.

Problem #3, particularly for 5 V devices on the other end of the cable, involves inconsistent output power at various output voltages. Let’s look back at that 30 W VOLTME teardown again:

I’ve written (more accurately, I suppose, ranted) before about USB-PD (Power Delivery), which supports upfront negotiation between the “source” and “sink” on their respective voltage and current capabilities-and-requirements, leading to the potential for higher output power. Programmable power supply (PPS), an enhancement to USB PD 3.0, supports periodic renegotiation as, for example, a battery nears full charge. Quoting from a Belkin white paper on the topic:

Programmable Power Supply (PPS) is a standard that refers to the advanced charging technology for USB-C devices. It can modify in real time the voltage and current by feeding maximum power based on a device’s charging status. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), a nonprofit group that supports the marketing and promotion of the Universal Serial Bus (USB), added PPS Fast Charging to the USB PD 3.0 standard in 2017. This allows data to be exchanged every 10 seconds, making a dynamic adjustment to the output voltage and current based on the condition of the receiving device’s specifications. PPS’ main advantage over other standards is its capability to lower conversion loss during charging. This means that less heat is generated, which lengthens the device battery’s lifespan.

I mention this because the above photo indicates that this charger support PPS. But let’s backtrack and focus on its supported USB-PD options. It’s a 30 W charger, right? Well:

  • 20 V x 1.5 A = 30 W
  • 15 V x 2 A = 30 W
  • 12 V x 2.5 A = 30 W

The next one isn’t exactly 30 W, but I’d argue that close still counts not only in horseshoes and hand grenades but also with inexpensive-but-still-impressive chargers:

  • 9 V x 3 A = 27 W

But what’s the deal with that last one?

  • 5 V x 3 A = 15 W

Hmmm…mebbe just a quirk of this particular charger? How about this big bad boy from Anker?

Single output. 100 W. Surely, it’ll pump out more than 3 A at 5 V, right? Nope:

  • 5 V x 3 A = 15 W
  • 9 V x 3 A = 27 W
  • 12 V x 3 A = 36 W
  • 15 V x 3 A = 45 W
  • 20 V x 5 A = 100 W

And just determining this information necessitated tedious searching for a user manual online at a third-party site. I couldn’t even find mention of the product (via either its 317 product code or A2672 model number) on the manufacturer’s own website! And at this point, I’ll cut to the chase: they’re pretty much all like this.

That a charger will only output 100 W to a device that indicates it can handle 20 V is no shortage of smoke and mirrors in and of itself. But I’m actually willing to give the charger suppliers at least something of a “pass” here. Consumers value not only output power but also size, weight, and the all-important price tag, among other things. These factors likely constrain per-port (if not per-device) output current to 5 A or so. If I’m a portable computer manufacturer and I need 100vW of input power to support not only AC-connected operation but also in-parallel battery recharge at a reasonable rate, I’m going to make darn sure my device can handle a 20 V input!

But what about this seeming 3 A limitation for the 5 V output option? It’s not universal, obviously, since the Raspberry Pi 27 W USB-C power supply supports the following options:

  • 1 V x 5 A = 25.5 W
  • 9 V x 3 A = 27 W
  • 12 V x 2.25 A = 27 W
  • 15 V x 1.8 A = 27 W

In contrast, BTW, the official Raspberry Pi 15 W USB-C power supply only does this:

  • 1 V x 3.0 A = 15.3 W

My guess as to the root cause of this 5 V@3 A preponderance comes from a clue in a post on the Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange site that I stumbled across while researching this writeup:

The question is about USB Type-C connectivity.

The Type-C connectivity provides two methods of determining source capability.

The primary method is the value of pull-up on HOST side on CC pins. Type-C specifications define three levels of capability: 500/900 mA (56k pull-up to 5V), 1.5 A (22k pull-up), and 3A (10k pull-up). The connecting device pulls down this with 5.1k to ground, and the resulting voltage level tells the device how much current it can take over the particular connection. When the host sees the pull-down, it will turn on “+5Vsafe” VBUS. This is per Type-C protocol.

The secondary method is provided by nearly independent Power Delivery specification. If the consumer implements PD, it still need to follow Type-C specifications for CC pull-up-down protocol, and will receive “+5Vsafe” VBUS.

Only then the consumer will send serial PD-defined messages over CC pin to discover source capabilities. If provider responds, then negotiations for power contract will proceed.

If the consumer is not PD-agnostic, no messages will be generated and no responses will be returned, and no contract will be negotiated. The link power will stay at the default “Safe+5VBUS” power schema, per DC levels on CC pins.

Here’s the irony…my Raspberry Pi 4 board that I mentioned earlier? It’s the rare, early “Model A” variant, which contained an insufficient number and types of resistors to work correctly with some USB-C cables. But that’s not what’s going on here. As the above explanation elucidates, USB-C chargers must (ideally) at minimum support 5 V@3 A for broadest device compatibility. What I’m guessing mostly happens beyond this point is that charger manufacturers focus their development attention on other voltage/current combinations enabled by the secondary compatibility negotiation, leaving the 5 V circuitry implementation well enough alone as-is.

Agree or disagree, readers? Anything more to add here? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments! Meanwhile, I have a Raspberry Pi 27 W USB-C power supply on order from an overseas supplier…and I wait…

Brian Dipert is the Editor-in-Chief of the Edge AI and Vision Alliance, and a Senior Analyst at BDTI and Editor-in-Chief of InsideDSP, the company’s online newsletter.

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