New USB4 promises 80 Gb/s fee, but name confusion continues

by Jerry

Announced in 2019 (but still little used), USB4 allows data transfer up to 40 Gb/s (gigabits per second). That’s an impressive fee, isn’t it? But it’s not going to stop there. Version 2.0 of the technology is on its way and should reach a speed of up to 80 Gb/s.

The announcement was made by the USB Promoter Group this week. USB4 2.0 will retain the USB-C connector, but that doesn’t mean there will be no structural changes. The official announcement mentions “a new physical layer architecture”.

Technical details about the new version are still scarce. But the USB Promoter Group says the novelty will take advantage of “existing 40 Gb/s USB Type-C passive cables and newly defined 80 Gb/s ACTIVE USB Type-C cables.”

The reading I’ve made of this statement is that usb4 version 2.0 will reach up to 80 Gb/s with a new standard of active cables. Cables of the type have circuits at one or both ends that optimize data flow.

I find it unlikely that passive cables of 40 Gb/s (no integrated circuits at the tips) can reach 80 Gb/s in the new version of the technology. By mentioning this type of cable, it is possible that USB Promoter Group just wants to inform you that there will be full compatibility with current standards.

On the other hand, the statement is ambiguous, giving scope for the understanding that, even with current cables, the rate of 80 Gb/s may be achieved.

For now, what we care to know is that USB4 2.0 will be able to transmit twice as much data compared to the current version and will improve integration with standards such as DisplayPort and PCI Express.

Technical details about the new version are expected to be revealed at USB Developer Days 2022, an event scheduled for early November.

The confusion of the names only gets worse
I see with good eyes the emergence of a new version of a technology when there is the proposal of improvements. This is the case with USB4 2.0. The novelty can be faster until thunderbolt 4 (maximum rate of 40 Gb/s).

On the other hand, the confusion of the names of usb versions seems to have no end.

That’s not an exaggeration on my part. Just to recap, when USB 3.2 was announced, USB-IF (entity responsible for technical standardization of USB) came to name versions 3.0 and 3.1 as USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2. It went like this:

USB 3.0: USB 3.2 Gen 1
USB 3.1: USB 3.2 Gen 2
USB 3.2 : USB 3.2 Gen 2×2
When USB4 was revealed (even so, all together), the expectation was that this confusion would begin to subside. But behold, a new version is announced. For the logic of simplification to be maintained, the novelty should be named USB5. But someone had the excellent idea to complicate everything and go to a USB4 version 2.0.

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