Makers match the trend in high-end devices while buoying mainstream 2.0 category through Mini- and Micro-USB variants.
China’s USB connector suppliers accelerate the shift to the 3.0 standard as adoption in application devices gathers steam. They target a more than 30 percent share by year-end for the SuperSpeed variety from the current 10 to 20 percent. Some are even eyeing 50 percent. Shenzhen Tronixin Electronics Co. Ltd plans to expand production to more than 30 percent in coming months, and will step up gradually to the 3.0 version in the next two or three years. At present, 80 percent of the enterprise’s yield comprises 2.0 kinds.
|Yueqing Laien's model 1394-6P-2 USB 2.0 connector has a 3 to 20N insertion/extraction force and lasts 5,000 cycles.|
USB 3.0’s advantages in terms of speed, power output, consumption and management, and data handling position it as the next-mainstream interface in the high end. Supporting the adoption are major players Intel and AMD, which released compliant processors last year. The first’s Ivy Bridge has the Panther Point chipsets integrating a USB 3.0 controller. AMD, in turn, has the Fusion APU chipset with four SuperSpeed ports.
Local suppliers project demand rise for USB 3.0 connectors will exceed 30 percent in 2012-13. They expect the boost to come mainly from the strong computer sector. As of end-2011, more than 60 percent of desktop PCs and 50 percent of laptops shipped worldwide have the inter face, according to DRAMeXchange. The ratio is expected to rise further this year.
Amid the ongoing switch, manufacturers continue to grow the mainstream 2.0 category via Mini-USB and Micro-USB types to take advantage of wide use in mobile phones and other portable electronics.
The use of Mini- and Micro-USB as the universal connection for mobile phone charging will sustain high growth in the next one or three years. This is why many China manufacturers are concentrating their R&D and production efforts on the variants. Leyconn Electronic Co. Ltd will bolster the yield of the former type by 10 percent in the months ahead. At present, Mini-USB units account for more than half of the supplier’s total USB connector output. Eventually, however, Micro-USB kinds will take the mainstream globally because of smaller size, better performance and longer life span.
Businesses are also watching developments in the HDMI segment, particularly the 1.4 D connectors. The last, which come in 2.8x6.4mm, may compete with 2.94x7.8mm Micro-USB varieties in the portable electronics market in future. Both support a high transmission speed. Nevertheless, makers are confident of USB’s strong position in one or two years.
Overall, China companies anticipate more than 20 percent growth in the USB connector segment this year. They will increase production by 10 percent. The 2.0 standard stays at the lead, taking up more than half of the country’s aggregate yield. It will sustain steady upswing in the low end worldwide as USB 3.0 ascends. Units based on 1.0, meanwhile, continue to dwindle, with share now at less than 10 percent.
In terms of exports, makers are looking forward to a 5 to 10 percent rise as the Europe market regains its footing gradually this year. They also see shipments to emerging destinations South America and the Middle East climbing by more than 10 percent in 2012-13. Yueqing Laien Technology Co. Ltd sends 20 percent of output to Southeast Asia, Brazil and India. In coming months, it hopes to achieve up to 10 percent increase in outbound volume.
China has 300 to 400 suppliers of USB connectors, less than half of which are local operations and the rest foreign-invested. The number is likely to increase as manufacturers of USB cables join the line to control quality and costs. Last year, some small companies exited the connector sector due to slow exports to main market Europe, high labor and material outlay, and intense competition.
The mainstream selection in China consists of 4-pin USB 2.0 and 9-pin 3.0 units in A and B male and female types, and SMD, straight, right-angle and flat tails. Mini-USB versions come in 4, 5, 8, 10, 14, 16 and 18-pin configurations, with the first three leading output. Micro-USB kinds with five pins are also available.
The connectors have phosphor bronze contacts with gold or tin-over-nickel plating, and UL94V-0-rated polyester insulator. Most comply with RoHS, UL and CE.
The key raw materials used include copper, gold, nickel and plastic, representing 60 to 70 percent of total costs. The majority of requirement is sourced locally, although some makers turn to overseas providers for inputs such as PVC.
Although material supply has been steady, outlay rose last year, resulting in a 5 to 10 percent price markup during the period. In the months ahead, costs are expected to stabilize and keep
quotes at current levels. For USB 3.0 units, rates are anticipated to decline by 10 to 20 percent in the next one or two years as more businesses shift to the standard.
USB 2.0 connectors in standard and Micro-USB configurations dominate shipments in Taiwan. Mini-USB variants are also available. These come in SMD, DIP and receptable types. Units based on the 3.0 specification, however, are on the rise, driven by the trend for high-speed data transfer. Their adoption in notebook PCs for release this year spurs makers to pursue the category.
Regardless of version, suppliers underscore fine pitch, SMD type and low profile in R&D to meet requirements in portable electronics. They are also developing models that can withstand high temperatures to suit automotive and industrial computer applications.
The main materials adopted are copper alloy, brass and phosphor bronze for the contacts. The plating options are gold, nickel, tin, silver and gold-over-nickel. The last is used for cost-down
yet comparable performance attributes. The inputs represent about 50 percent of production outlay.
USB 2.0 connectors are priced about $0.10, and 3.0 kinds $0.20.
Chant Sincere Co. Ltd offers combination connectors supporting USB and eSATA. Models have a brass eSATA and phosphor bronze USB contacts with a gold-over-nickel surface finish. For the solder tail, it is tin or gold plating for the eSATA unit, and the last for the USB.
Manufacturers such as Neltron Industrial Co. Ltd achieve differentiation through dual- or triple-port DIP USB connectors.
Aces Electronic Co. Ltd
Model: 50928 Series
Astron Technology Corp.
Chant Sincere Co. Ltd
Model: 377DH (S1) Female SMT
Io Parts Enterprise Co. Ltd
Leyconn Electronic Co. Ltd
Neltron Industrial Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Tronixin Electronics Co. Ltd
Model: USB 3.0 AM
Note: This article "Shift to USB 3.0 connectors picking up pace" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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