USB and Thunderbolt to converge - Hardware

USB 4 Debuts With Twice the Throughput and Thunderbolt 3 Support

To put it simply, USB 4 is equivalent to the current Thunderbolt 3. 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. Is it familiar? That's right, Intel's Thunderbolt 3 interface is 40Gbps, but the earliest applications were put back in 2015.

USB4 also offers support for more data and display protocols so you'll be better able to take advantage of that higher transfer rate.

Intel's Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, which is sort of confusing. In addition, the USB Promoter Group announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, based on the Thunderbolt protocol.

For now, the USB Promoter Group, along with 50 companies, is focused on the final stages of the USB 4 draft specification. The future is a two-way USB street; USB 3.2 gives us 20 Gbps and USB4 gives us 40 Gbps over USB Type-C.

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. It may or may not be compatible with the new ones, such as USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. indeed one might hope they refuse to accept such things into their specifications. USB4 promises to double the transfer speeds of USB 3.2 thanks in part to a critical move made by Intel. So, consumers need to understand that although technically "USB 3.2" runs over USB Type-A or USB Type-C, you'll only get the full performance of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 over a USB Type-C cable. The official technical specs for USB4 likely won't be published until mid-2019, which means the upcoming port format won't hit hardware until 2020. 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.

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"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone", said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. "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". 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.

Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman offers the following statement.

Last week, it was announced that USB 3.2 was ready for prime time, meaning new high-bandwidth cables will start rolling out some time this year, while all previous USB 3.1 cables can be re-branded as a version of USB 3.2.

The group shares the following features and benefits of USB4.

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