Earlier this week, the USB Implementation Forum (USB-IF) finally revealed the specifications for USB4, and it looks like USB will catch up to Thunderbolt 3 in every respect. With dual-lane 40Gbps transfer rates, power delivery, and continued support for display protocols, single-cable computing will soon become the standard.
According to the official technical specifications, USB4 will use the same USB Type-C connection we’ve all grown (at times begrudgingly) accustomed to while offering twice the speed of the current standard. USB4 is based on Intel’s Thunderbolt protocol, and will offer up to 40Gbps (5,000MB/s) bandwidth when using compatible USB-C cables.
This means that you’ll no longer have to figure out if the port on your PC is USB or Thunderbolt, a confusing state of events since USB 3.2 is only half as fast. Once USB4 comes to market—and we expect the first devices to appear sometime in 2020—there will truly be one universal connection that offers the best combination of speed and versatility. And since USB4 will be backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2, and USB 2.0, you’ll still be able to connect all of your older peripherals.
The sometimes confusing transition to USB 3.2 and USB Type-C connections hasn’t always been the easiest, and the superiority of Thunderbolt 3 has been frustrating for users who didn’t want to pay for the more expensive computers that feature the connection. The arrival of USB4 promises to level that playing field, delivering the same high level of performance to all consumers.