The next version of the USB protocol has been released, and as promised, it’ll support data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps when using supported cables. That’s twice the theoretical max of USB 3.2.
Now that the USB Implementers Forum has released the USB4 specification, we could start to see the first computers, tablets, phones, and other devices to support the new standard in the coming months.
The new standard is backward compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0, which means you should be able to use your old devices and cables with new hardware. You just may not get the fastest speeds by doing so.
You may also need to get an adapter — but only for devices that don’t already have the USB-C ports and connectors that will be utilized by USB4.
But the biggest change is that USB4 incorporates Thunderbolt 3 technology, which Intel contributed for royalty-free use. Among other things, that means:
- Data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps
- Native support for video output over USB
- UP to 100 watt power delivery
Hopefully it also means that we’ll see USB4 ports become standard on future devices, rather than just a premium feature reserved for high-end hardware (which is where Thunderbolt 3 stays several years after it was first released).
Update: Intel has announced that its Thunderbolt 4 technology will be compatible with USB4, but will guarantee top data and video transfer speeds, support for multiple displays, support for laptop charging, and more.
You can find out more in Liliputing’s article exploring the differences between Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB 3.