Intel Wants USB-C to Replace 3.5mm Audio Jack

Posted by at 8:51 pm on April 28, 2016

Intel-Logo-800x600,G-O-280536-1The days of the headphone jack may be numbered, if Intel’s intentions over device connectivity gains traction. The processor producer has proposed that the widely-used 3.5mm audio jack should be removed “from audio sources” in favor of a different connectivity technology, with it putting forward at an IDF Shenzen talk the suggestion that the replacement could be a connection type already being used in some devices: USB Type-C.

 

 

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The proposal, reported by Anandtech, would allow manufacturers to add new features to headsets not currently possible with the 3.5mm connection. Switching over to a different type of connection could theoretically simplify connectivity, especially in the case of home cinema systems and other multi-channel audio devices.

Lastly, for smartphones, it would remove one of the items currently restricting manufacturers from making their mobile devices even thinner than they currently are. Using a single universal connector rather than a separate one just for audio input and output could also help simplify internal hardware designs, speeding up product development.

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While Apple could potentially use Lightning for a similar system in a future iOS device, Intel is putting its efforts towards pushing USB Type-C as that universal connector. USB Type-C is already set up in such a way that it could be used to transfer analog audio as part of the connector’s specifications, with the use of sideband pins for analog connections potentially leaving data transfers and other features of the connection standard unaffected.

Despite the proposal being outlined by Intel at the IDF meeting, it may still be a considerable amount of time before it gets widely used by manufacturers. Intel is expected to finalize and release a specification related to the technology later in the second quarter.

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