The specifications of next generation of USB technology has been declared by the USB Promoter Group. USB4 is compatible with Intel’s Thunderbolt protocol and will offer data transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps. The group would be publishing the detailed spec sheet in mid-2019. For now, let’s see what improvements it brings to the table.

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Interface-wise, its the same as USB Type-C connectors and supports backward integration to USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces. The maximum data transfer speed could go up to 40 Gbps over 40 Gbps-compatible cables.

Source: Intel

If you’re wondering the development progress, then you would be amused to know that it’s going strong. While reporting the news, over 50 companies are invested in the active development of the draft USB4 specification. So, we could expect the advent of this tech to the market soon.

USB Specifications Comparison

Parameters USB 4.0 USB 3.2 (Gen 2×2) USB 2.0
Alternative branding ? Super Speed+ High Speed
Bandwidth 40 Gbps 20 Gbps 480 Mbps
Encoding 128b/132b 8b/10b
Introduction 2019 2017 2001

Intel’s Thunderbolt 3

Source: Intel

The proprietary hardware from Intel delivers top of the line performance. To be more specific, it brings the following features:

  • Speeds up to 40 Gbit/s (5 GB/s)
  • Power consumption optimized to half
  • Connect two external 4K displays simultaneously at 60 Hz (or a single external 4K display at 120 Hz, or a 5K display at 60 Hz). For the difference, the previous drivers could work with just a single display.
Source: Intel

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

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Intel’s Ice Lake processors will be the first CPUs to have native support for Thunderbolt 3. Until then, the tech giants would try to integrate the same to their PC and Computing platforms.


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