The latest addition to USB connectivity, USB4, is coming to a device near you very soon! Announced by The USB Promoter Group, which includes Apple, Intel, Renesas, ST Microelectronics, HP, Microsoft and Texas Instruments, we are going to see yet another upgrade of the USB Type-C Connector system.
The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification recently contributed by Intel. It doubles the bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.
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. Even as the USB4 specification introduces a new underlying protocol, compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices is supported.
According to the USB Promoter Group:
“The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution,” said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman. “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.”
Key characteristics of the solution include:
Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40 Gbps operation over 40 Gbps-certified cables
Multiple data and display protocols to efficiently share the total available bandwidth over the bus Backward compatibility with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3.
At this point you may be thinking “we have only just started to see the rollout of USB C devices so does mean we will all have to upgrade again soon?”
A fair question. I believe, however, that this is a natural transition to a faster more adaptive connector system.
A good things is that because it is based on the USB Type-C connector system (which is miles better than traditional USB A connectors being easy to plug in any way around) it means in the future devices will have many more options taking what was a humble printer cable to becoming your one stop shop for connectivity.