In a surprise announcement, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has introduced a new USB protocol called, USB4. It is said to be based on Thunderbolt 3 platform and offers similar speeds, which means that it will have the ability to transfer data as fast as 40Gbps. This is double of USB 3.2 which offers 20Gbps and four times of USB 3.1 standard.
That’s not all, USB4 will also bring support for 100 watts of power. A single cable and port capable of 100 watts! It will also be able to power two 4K displays at 60Hz or a single 5K display. It will offer two-lane operation using the current USB Type-C cables and will be backward compatible with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 devices and peripherals.
More importantly, this announcement fulfills the promise Intel made back in 2017 to make Thunderbolt 3 royalty-free. Intel rightfully owned the high-speed data specification, but with this announcement, the standard now becomes open for all, thus becoming the next iteration of USB.
The USB4 specification is expected to incorporate the upcoming USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and the Thunderbolt 3 protocol in a single package. Essentially this means that USB4 controllers will support the whole range of speeds. We are also hoping that the USB Type-C port will finally emerge as a serious universal port considering it will now offer high-data bandwidth along with the ability to deliver power that is theoretically enough to power two laptops.
So when can we expect USB4 based peripherals? Well, if the standard is announced now, the specifications should reach major brands by the end of this year. This means that don’t expect the first USB4 products hit markets before 2020.