Asustek Computer has rolled-out the most sophisticated USB 3.1 type-C upgrade kit to date. The Asus USB 3.1 UPD Panel not only boasts with two USB type-C receptacles, but also supports USB type-C power delivery feature, which allows transferring up to 100W of power using one connector. The kit is compatible with any Intel Z170-based mainboard featuring SATA Express.
The Asus USB 3.1 UPD Panel consists of a card featuring the Asmedia ASM1142 controller and various power and signal management ICs [integrated circuits], a 5.25” front panel adapter to host the card and a SATA Express cable. The card can be installed into the adapter and connected to a spare SATAe port (in case USB 3.1 ports are needed on the front), or into a spare PCI Express x1 slot (if USB-C ports are needed in the back), providing a lot of flexibility to the end-user or system integrator.
The card sports two 12V Molex power connectors as well as a quite sophisticated power circuitry in order to enable USB type-C power delivery capability. One port out of two can supply any device with up to 100W of power for charging or operation. In fact, Asustek’s USB 3.1 UPD Panel is the first product of such kind that supports USB type-C power delivery.
Asustek Computer claims that the USB 3.1 UPD Panel is designed for Intel Z170-based platforms. Theoretically, the USB 3.1 UPD Panel is compatible with any motherboard that has a SATA Express connector and/or a spare PCI Express 3.0 x1 slot. However, previous-generation mainboards implement SATA Express using PCI Express 2.0 x2 interface, which means that maximum bandwidth is limited to around 1GB/s., which is less than USB 3.1 (10Gb/s or 1.25GB/s) transfer rate. On the other hand, Asmedia’s ASM1142 controller uses PCIe 2.0 x2 or PCIe 3.0 x1 bus, which means that it also does not support maximum data-rate of the USB 3.1 specification.
The Asus USB 3.1 UPD Panel is set to become available shortly. Pricing of the product is unknown.
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KitGuru Says: The Asus USB 3.1 UPD Panel is the USB 3.1 done right: two type-C connectors and USB power delivery – key features of the SuperSpeed+ USB specification – are fully supported. The Asmedia ASM1142 controller has its own limitations, but since it is widely utilized by makers of motherboards, its usage by the upgrade kit can hardly be called a drawback.