Have you heard the big news by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF)? It has announced that USB4 will be making its debut later this year. The update will be building on and complementing the existing USB2.0 and USB3.2 architectures.
The next generation USB, USB4, will be doubling the bandwidth of USB bringing it up to 40 Gbps and shall enable multiple simultaneous display and data protocols. Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman, said, ‘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. The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this experience by optimizing the blend of data and display over a single connection and enabling the further doubling of performance.’
However, USB4 is not technically speaking new news. Similar specifications were also put forward by the Thunderbolt 3 specification. Thunderbolt 3 made its way into the market back in 2015. Intel had announced back then that it would be making the advanced technology available to other chip makers in 2017, thus enabling everyone to manufacture the technology without worrying about the royalty. The USB4 is the fruit of that promise.
USB4 will be capable of delivering up to 100W of power and can be used with external graphics cards as well. It can also power two 4K displays or a single 5K display without breaking a sweat. It is important to use cables that are capable of 40 Gbps speeds for taking advantage of the complete potential of this technology. However, older Thunderbolt 3 cables and accessories will work just fine with the new port.
Essentially speaking, USB4 is an old technology that has been made open source now. Why is it such a piece of big news then? That is because as it becomes widespread and cheaper, the consumer (you) will benefit! USB-IF has hopes to simplify the whole USB ecosystem; however, it is bound to run into some trouble because USB is an open standard and implementation of new rules would remain optional.
The complete specifications of USB4 will be released later this year. It is then that we will be able to get a complete picture of what the future of USB holds and how confusing it is going to become to remember the names and their unique abilities.