USB4 eats Thunderbolt 3 for the 40 Gbps super-cable in 2021

USB4 eats Thunderbolt 3 for the 40 Gbps super-cable in 2021

That's because the USB-C port can be a Thunderbolt port, but it can also be a standard USB 3.x port. The biggest point was that it would adopt a protocol that would bring backwards compatibility for USB 2.0, USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 3. Now, the speed of Thunderbolt 3 becomes part of USB because Intel has allowed it to happen. It'll have a lot of the same functionality as Thunderbolt 3 as well, including simultaneous data and display delivery: "As the USB Type-C connector has evolved into the role as the external display port of many host products, the USB4 specification provides the host the ability to optimally scale allocations for display data flow", the USB Operator Group said today.

USB 3.2 has been kicking around since 2017, but recent stirrings at MWC 2019 indicate that we should be seeing the technology actually land on shipping devices soon. The physical connector of this standard will be identical to the USB-C of the Thunderbolt 3, which means that all existing Thunderbolt 3 cables should be compatible. We have no idea what the first implementation of the news USB4 standards will be called and won't until it's released in mid-2019.

In what seems like an effort to confuse consumers further, hot on the heels of the reveal of USB 3.2 2×2, a new 20Gbps version of USB 3.2 that features two 10Gbps channels, the USB Promoters Group has revealed yet another new format, USB4. This is a big deal because the way things stand, it's not always clear if a USB-C port is also a Thunderbolt port. Intel designed Thunderbolt back in 2011 and, over time, it came to work over USB-C.

The USB-C connector was created to be future proof and reversible. That means 40Gbps data transfers for external storage drives, eight times the speed of the USB 3.0 interface. It is not uncommon, especially for low-end devices, to only support USB 2.0, or include more USB 2.0 ports than USB 3.0 ports. In addition, unlike the USB 3.0/3.1/3.2 era, which uses the color interface for intergenerational differentiation, USB 4 does not have this requirement.

With that said, you shouldn't expect any USB4 devices until 2020 at the earliest.

"The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this [by] enabling the further doubling of performance".

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. "By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we're opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers".

Combining the USB standard and Thunderbolt 3 into a single standard will also lessen the confusion over the two, by standardizing ports, cabling, and protocols.

The group shares the following features and benefits of USB4.

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