Next-Gen Spec is based on Intel's high-speed thunderbolt architecture
While much of the specifications for USB 3 have been somewhat confusing, the USB Implementation Forum (USB-IF) has made formerly made USB4 official, with a new dual lane transfer architecture that borrows most of its standard from Intel's high-speed Thunderbolt technology.
Are you ready for up to 40GB transfer rates while at the same time offering power delivery and single cable computing? Here it comes.
The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification recently contributed by Intel Corporation to the USB Promoter Group. It doubles the maximum aggregate bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols. - USB-IF Press Release
The next-generation USB spec will build upon existing USB 3.2 specification but will open up a second lane of communication, allowing existing USB Type-C cables to transfer up to 40GBps of data, doubling existing file transfer speeds. In addition, display port protocols and power delivery will also flourish and will be backwards compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2, and even Thunderbolt 3 connections. The resulting underlying connection protocol will also scale based on the capability of your devices being connected.
Other key characteristics of the USB4 solution include:
- Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C® cables and up to 40Gbps operation over 40Gbps certified cables
- Multiple data and display protocols that efficiently share the maximum aggregate bandwidth
- Backward compatibility with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3
The real benefit of the USB4 spec is that existing USB Type-C connections will be able to handle the higher data flow, plus the secondary communications channel. Not only that, but the ability to drive Thunderbolt 3 devices also gives legs to legacy Thunderbolt technology, which works perfectly well. It's very similar in thinking of what designers of CFExpress accomplished by expanding the existing XQD spec so that users could continue to use their devices with a simple firmware update.
So kudos to USB-C designers for future-proofing the Type-C spec so that it would grow with the future USB designs. And the best part is, that users who shied away from paying higher prices for Thunderbolt 3 speed, will not only be rewarded with a more affordable version but will be able to do it by using existing Type C connections for the same high-level performance, a huge benefit that should drive USB 4 into an 8K future.
USB 4 devices will start hitting the market in early 2020, and the USB-IF is planning technical training on the spec during USB Developer days later this month in Seattle, and in late November in Taipei, Taiwan. The official spec is available for download at www.usb.org.