As USB 3.0 is still being integrated into mainstream devices, the USB Promoter Group has announced the upcoming release of the USB4 specification. The Dev-Update entails that the USB4 standard will be published around mid-2019. Moreover, an updated USB-C specification will be released with USB4 bus discovery, configuration and performance requirements.

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.

Brad Sanders, Chairman, USB Promoter Group

Intel had shared plans to release the Thunderbolt 3 protocol to the industry back in 2017. Thunderbolt 3 enables the use of multiple data and display protocols simultaneously, while also doubling the bandwidth from 20Gbps to 40Gbps. With this announcement, it is expected that it will become nearly universal. The interface will use USB-C connectors and will be compatible with USB 2.0 as well as USB 3.2.

USB 4 will use Thunderbolt 3
USB4 will support Thunderbolt 3

Key Features of the USB 4 Solution include:

  • Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40Gbps operation over 40Gbps 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

Bringing Thunderbolt 3 to mainstream PC platforms enables various companies to integrate it into their products. Intel’s upcoming 10nm “Ice Lake” processor will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 3. With over 50 companies working together, we can expect to see USB4 integration in mainstream devices quite soon.

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