Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector
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Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

An Apple patent (number 7918689) for a reduced size multi-pin male plug connector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It would combine DisplayPort and USB 3.0 connectors -- and, perhaps, Thunderbolt, as well.

Per the patent, receptacle connectors and male plug connectors having a reduced size in at least one direction can be provided. One example reduces height by not including a center contact tab or tongue, but instead places contacts on an insulator that is adjacent to a bottom portion of the receptacle. Another example may reduce width by reducing contact pitch, and may use a particular shape of contact to achieve god signal quality.

Receptacle connectors and male plug connectors can also provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort. Methods can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players, thus reducing their time to market. The inventors are Jason Sloey, Brian S. Lynch and Stephen Paul Zadesky.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Electronic devices such as media players and related devices have become ubiquitous over the past several years. As they have proliferated, the types and styles of electronic devices have diversified. During this time, a theme has been that consumers want more functionality packed into an ever-decreasing form factor.
At the same time, many new high-speed communication standards have been developed.

"Examples of these new standards include the new high-speed USB3, DisplayPort, and others. Although it is desirable to have an electronic device such as a media player be able to use these new high-speed communication standards, these new standards are often tough to meet. Meanwhile, it is also desirable that electronic devices be able to also communicate using conventional signaling such as analog audio and video.

"Also, as the styles and types of electronic devices such as media players are expected to continue to multiply, it is desirable that these new styles and types be able to be introduced quickly to the marketplace.

"Accordingly, various embodiments of the present invention can provide male plug connectors and female receptacle connectors that may have a reduced size in at least one direction. Some embodiments of the present invention can provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards. Further embodiments of the present invention can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players, thus reducing their time to market. These electronic devices may range from smaller hand-held devices, which may include portable media players, to larger devices, such as laptop or desktop computers.

"An embodiment of the present invention may provide a male plug connector having a reduced height. A housing of the male plug connector can be designed to accommodate a plurality of contacts spaced apart in a single row. The housing can include a front end that is received by the receptacle connector and a plurality of contact locations for the plurality of contacts. The front end can include a top surface, two lateral bottom surfaces, and a central bottom surface between the two lateral bottom surfaces. The central bottom surface can be an exterior surface of the male plug connector. The contact locations can be located on the central bottom surface of the front end.

"Another embodiment of the present invention may provide a male plug connector having a reduced height and a moveable door that can protect contacts. A housing of the male plug connector can be designed to accommodate a plurality of contacts spaced apart in a single row.

"The housing can include a front end that is received by the receptacle connector and a plurality of contact locations for the plurality of contacts. The front end can include a top surface, two lateral bottom surfaces, and a central bottom surface between the two lateral bottom surfaces. The contact locations can be located on the central bottom surface of the front end. A moveable door can covers the plurality of contact locations when the front end is not inserted into a receptacle connector and can retract when the front end is inserted into the receptacle connector.

"Another embodiment of the present invention may provide a connector that can support high-speed data communication standards. The connector may be a male plug connector or a receptacle connector. The connector can have an insulator core having a plurality of contact locations for contacts. The contact locations designated for ground may separate pairs of contact locations designated for carrying signals, which may be data and/or power signals."

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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