USB 4 has been announced, will match Thunderbolt 3's spec

March 4, 2019 - The USB Promoter Group today announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, a major update to deliver the next generation USB architecture that compliments and builds on the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 architectures. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the upcoming USB 3.2, and hopefully USB4 will restore sanity to the world of USB. So this year, we'll be getting USB 3.2 2×2 Type-C cables with 20Gbps speeds and dual-lane bandwidth, in a year or two, we'll start to see USB4 roll out with Type-C and 40Gbps speeds. However, there is a bit of a sour note becuase that's exactly the same speed as Thunderbolt 3, meaning that there will be no enhancement for current Thunderbolt 3 devotees on a standard that will be several years old already.

USB4 also offers support for more data and display protocols so you'll be better able to take advantage of that higher transfer rate. That's finally happening, with the technology being integrated into USB 4.

The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution.

At present, the entire version of the USB 4 standard is still being revised. That means 40Gbps data transfers for external storage drives, eight times the speed of the USB 3.0 interface.

Intel's Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, which is sort of confusing.

What's the USB 4 release date?

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Currently, more than 50 companies are reviewing the final draft of the USB-IF's new specification, which is on track to be published by the middle of 2019, according to the organization. So, all USB4 devices and ports will support Thunderbolt devices. In brief, Intel is open licensing its Thunderbolt 3 technology, so third parties can use it royalty free, and the USB-IF is integrating this tech which will then become USB4.

Firstly, not all devices have it and unless you've got the spec sheet in front of you, it's not really clear what devices do and don't support it.

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

"USB4's high throughput and advanced features enable new scenarios in consumer, enterprise, and intelligent edge markets, while maintaining interoperability with existing USB and Thunderbolt 3 devices", said Roanne Sones, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft OS Platforms.

"The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this [by] enabling the further doubling of performance". It is expected that the original version will be released in the second half of this year. With the announcement of the USB4 (no space!) specification, the group has reached the apex of powerful features/confusing nomenclature.

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