As if having USB 3.2 show up and confuse people with its lack of branding consistency (USB 3.2 Gen 1 vs USB 3.2 Gen 2 vs USB 3.2 Gen 2×2? Seriously?) wasn’t enough, now we’ve got USB 4 to worry about. We don’t really have to worry just yet, but we’re kinda wishing we did.
Announced by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), USB 4 should bring us some naming sanity, along with transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps — double what we’ve seen with USB 3.2 (Gen 2×2). Or four times that seen in USB 3.2 (Gen 2). Or eight times that seen in… you get the idea.
The new standard is based on the existing Thunderbolt 3 standard, which we’ve already seen in several devices (since 2015). Intel opted to make the standard available to others free-of-charge in 2017 and the chipmaker’s gift is finally going to start bearing fruit for the rest of us. By the end of 2020 or so, anyway.
As for what USB 4/Thunderbolt 3 entails specifically, users can transfer up to 100W of power through the connection, enough to power high-end external displays. It also has the data throughput required for external GPUs, though whichever application you choose will require cabling able to handle the 40Gbps data transfer. Existing Thunderbolt 3 cables will handle the load, but expect available options to explode (not like that) as the standard becomes more widespread.
As for when we can expect it, USB 4 will be published as a standard in the second half of 2019. From there, it’s about another year and a half, according to The Verge, before we see it in devices. So around the end of 2020, then? When USB 4 does arrive, that won’t signal the demise of Intel’s Thunderbolt 3, either. Both standards will stick around, even though they’re largely identical, because Intel does things with Thunderbolt that the open USB standard will not. Think of it as the difference between bespoke and off-the-rack, we guess?
*Well, quite a lot of it
Source: The Verge