USB 4 Is Coming: What It Means For You

USB 4 Is Coming: What It Means For You

USB 4 Is Coming: What It Means For You

Today's announcement didn't include the USB 4 specification, which a press release from the USB Promoters state is now in the "final stages of review" by more than 50 companies. Even as the USB4 specification introduces a new underlying protocol, compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices is supported; the resulting connection scales to the best mutual capability of the devices being connected.

The standard is set to support 40Gbps speeds and the Thunderbolt 3.0 standard - following Intel opening the licencing of the technology to manufacturers. Now it's in the hands of the USB Promoters Group, thereby "enabling other chip makers to build Thunderbolt compatible silicon, royalty-free", according to an Intel announcement.

Thunderbolt 3 technology supports data, media, and power connections. The USB interface has had its challengers over the years, but its royalty-free model and broad use, along with a steady cadence of higher speeds through improved specifications, has staved off the competition. The new speedy interface blends in Thunderbolt 3 support and offers twice the bandwidth of USB 3.2, meaning it supports up to 40 Gbps of throughput.

USB4 will provide double the bandwidth and reach up to 40 Gbps with two-lane operation and over cables certified to handle the high speed, the USB Promoter Group said. However, given the open nature of USB4 versus the closed Thunderbolt 3 system, you should expect to see an explosion of compatible devices offering 40 Gbps speeds at more affordable price points. The USB Promoter Group hasn't assigned a new marketing term for the interface (like SuperSpeed USB), though it plans to soon. Thunderbolt 3 is already well supported in various OSes like Windows 10, MacOS and Linux.

The compatibility with older USB standards is expected, but full compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 devices is a big deal.

Intel is wise to open up its Thunderbolt protocol, as it will make it available to more users - an essential step for its continued success. The company has certified over 450 devices, including docks, displays, storage, and external graphics enclosures. But probably you won't pay much attention to these names, because today, USB-IF officially announced the USB 4.

USB Developer Days 2019, in the second half of this year, will include detailed technical training covering the USB4 specification and the latest for USB Type-C, USB Power Delivery, and other exciting topics.

The USB-C connector was created to be future proof and reversible. Note that it is not USB 4.0, it is USB 4.

"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone".

Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman offers the following statement.

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