PlugFest 2023: Preparation Guide

July 27, 2023 Team EMA

Plugfest 2023, checking your USB device compliance

The global electronics market will exceed a trillion dollars in 2023. And there is tremendous competition for market share among OEMs, ODMs, and others that design and develop circuit boards. However, the requirement of interconnectivity between components and devices from various manufacturers to ensure reliable operation and quality performance creates a sense of camaraderie at events such as plugfests.

Plugfests, as the name implies, are opportunities for designers, developers, manufacturers, and others to plug their product into a device or product from another company and put it to the test. The primary objective of these industry gatherings is typically to validate a product’s compliance with a particular standard(s). For USB boards and devices that require USB compliance testing, the USB-IF sponsored Plugfest 2023, August 8-11, in Portland, is an opportunity for USB PD 3.1 and other certifications. Capitalizing on this or other plugfests, however, requires preparation.

Why Attend a USB Plugfest in 2023?

Many organizations sponsor plugfests, and there are benefits to attending a plugfest regardless of where you are in PCBA development.



PCB Development Stage

  1. Test your product’s
    with other USB devices.

Design, Manufacturing, Testing

  1. Verify your product’s compliance
    with a particular USB standard.

Design, Manufacturing, Testing

  1. Select components and devices
    for use with your USB product.


  1. Learn current USB standards
    and technology innovations.


  1. Help with the development of
    USB standards.


As the list above illustrates, testing and verifying your product is the main reason for attending a plugfest. However, several benefits can be advantageous to your PCBA design process. Note that testing and compliance verification can be done at any plugfest. However, testing for certification can only be done at a USB-IF authorized independent testing laboratory (ITL), Platform Interoperability Lab (PIL), or plugfest like Compliance Workshop #131.

The organization’s Plugfest 2023 focuses on USB 3.1 power delivery (PD 3.1), including the following:

USB-IF Plugfest 2023 Compliance Testing Categories

  • USB PD 3.1 

    •  Power bricks

    •  Only silicon

    •  E-markers

  • USB 4 E-markers

  • Shared capacity chargers

  • Sinking devices (single and multi-port)

  • Power banks (including DRP)

As the above categories exhibit, plugfests are specific standard events. Therefore, it is crucial to adequately prepare to take advantage of the benefits these events offer.

Optimizing a Plugfest 2023 Event for Your PCBA Development

Plugfests are organized to use compliance testing to ensure interconnected USB products operate smoothly and perform reliability irrespective of the manufacturer/distributor. Maximally leveraging these events, which is best achieved by following the guidelines listed below, can also be a significant asset for optimizing your development process.

Preparation Guidelines for a USB Plugfest 2023

  •  Know the specific standard focus, including sub-categories 
    As is the case for the USB-IF Plugfest 2023, these events typically have a constrained focus. For example, USB 3.1 Gen 1 hubs, hosts, and compound parts are not eligible for testing, while USB 3.1 PD products are.

  •  Know the explicit certification requirements for your product
    Different product types have different test regimens and metrics that are evaluated. Therefore, it is essential to know what these are to prepare for the tests.

  •  Use software tools to pretest your design for compliance
    The best way to prepare for success at a plugfest is to pretest. Care must be exercised here to ensure that your choice of product development software can emulate the test regimens used to test/verify the compliance of your product.

Market competitiveness, tight development schedules, and other profitability issues are major concerns for new product introductions (NPI). For USB products, testing and verifying compliance can significantly impact design and development costs. One way to minimize these and help optimize ROI is to take advantage of events like Plugfest 2023.

EMA Design Automation is a leading provider of the resources that engineers rely on to accelerate innovation. We provide solutions that include PCB design and analysis packages, custom integration software, and engineering expertise, which enable you to create more efficiently. For more information on USB compliance testing and how to get the most from a Plugfest 2023 event and how we can help you innovate faster, contact us.

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