Immediately after the USB 3.2 is called confusing, Gen 2 × 2, the USB Applications Forum, USB-IF, in short, announces the next generation connectivity version USB 4. Although the draft specifications will not be officialized until later this year, this standard is expected to be up to 40 Gbps over 20 Gbps with the current version of USB 3.2.

This speed may sound familiar to you because it is already offered by the Thunderbolt 3 standard. Thunderbolt 3 has been included in devices since 2015. However, in 2017, Intel announced that it would open this standard to other chip producers to promote compliance. Thus, the manufacturer could use this technology without paying royalty. With USB 4, Intel brings this approach to USB.

If you are familiar with Thunderbolt 3, then many features of USB 4 will be familiar to you. It can deliver up to 100W of power distribution, deliver enough data for external graphics cards, feed two 4K screens or a single 5K screen. To take advantage of all the benefits, you'll need to use cables that support 40 Gbps speeds. But with the existing Thunderbolt 3 cables, naturally accessories will also work with this new port.

In fact, in the middle of a 4-year-old technology with the USB 4 seems to be caught. However, as it becomes an open standard, its scope will expand and become cheaper. This applies not only to computers, but also to monitors, docking stations and eGPU cases.

In addition to technical specifications, USB-IF says the USB 4 standard will simplify the USB ecosystem. Instead of having each USB device adopt the different approaches that the standard supports, the group wants to create a list that each USB 4 device will have to offer. This will create a specific frame for features such as audio or video output. However, yet the full qualifications have not been concluded.

Simplification seems to be a logical approach. However, it is a problem that USB is an open standard. It is therefore desirable to comply with all recommendations. Companies will be able to obtain USB-IF certification for their devices, but this will be entirely optional. USB-IF does not intend to enforce any requirements for manufacturer partners. He thinks that it is impossible to implement a coercive policy because of the large number of companies that use USB.

Other confusing aspects of the USB standard will survive. While the previous USB versions are using different color ports to show the standard they support, it will not be possible to implement such a coloring in the USB-C ports that will use the USB 4. However, there is no requirement for manufacturers to label their ports or cables as standard.

Unfortunately, the USB-IF cannot speak for sure whether the strange naming mechanism of the standard will continue with the USB 4. The group noted that the nomenclature guide would appear after the publication of the final standard.

Although the USB 4 will provide Thunderbolt 3 features, Intel says these two standards are going to live together. While the USB 4 is an open platform, Thunderbolt 3 is not so, Intel is demanding certification from manufacturers to use it. It also offers more reference design and technical support to manufacturers. USB 4 may have the same specifications, but Intel Thunderbolt also provides services that go beyond hardware on the 3rd side.

The official publication of the USB 4 standard is expected in the second half of 2019. USB-IF then assumes that it will take a year and a half to allow manufacturers to produce compatible devices. Even after all this time, the confusion and distress caused by the USB standard will not be erased in a single night. At least we'll get rid of the hassle of mixing USB with Thunderbolt 3.


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