Article
October 7, 2019

What you need to know about USB4


The USB Implementer's Forum (USB-IF), had officially released the USB4 specification on Aug 29, 2019. Besides increasing the maximum data rate to 40 Gbps, which is 8 times faster than the current SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps, USB4 also promises a handful of features that bring USB connectivity to another significant milestone.

USB-C Port / Connector Only

In the current USB 3.2 specification, the legacy USB connectors, USB-A, USB-B, and Micro B coexist with USB-C connector for USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 data transfer. For USB4 data transfer, a USB-C to USB-C cable is a must in order to truly utilize the dual transmission lines within the connector.

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10Gbps, 20Gbps, 40Gbps Data Rates

USB4 offers three data rates 10, 20 and 40 Gbps. But not all USB4 hosts and devices will support the maximum 40 Gbps transfer rate. According to USB-IF Chairman Brad Saunders, budget-friendly devices such as smart phone will work at lower data rates, while the high-end devices such as raid storages or external graphic cards will function with maximum data rates.

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Better Video/Data Allocation

With the current USB Type-C alternate mode, a USB 3.2 full feature cable will either divide its bandwidth to 50/50 between video and data or completely allocate the full bandwidth for video. Unlike USB 3.2, USB4 optimizes the allocation by dynamically adjusting the bandwidth for sending video and data over a single USB C connector. For example, if a USB4 host detects that your monitor only needs 15Gbps for display it will smartly allocate the remaining 25Gbps bandwidth for data transfer needs, such as copying large files to the external hard drive in a high speed. As a result, more monitors featured with USB-C connectors will come to the market.

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Backward Compatibility

Like previous generations of USB specifications, USB4 is also backward compatible with USB 3.0 or 2.0 protocols. This means you could still use your old USB devices while adopting the USB 4 standard.

Thunderbolt 3 Compatibility

Embracing Thunderbolt 3 will make next-gen USB4 twice as fast. At same time, with USB4, Thunderbolt 3's benefits become open to all. For example, we expect to see more Thunderbolt 3 enabled ports on AMD-powered laptops and PCs on the market. Jointly, that will drive USB4 applications to a much larger scale.

What Newnex will do?

As a contributor to the development of numerous USB standards, including being one of the main authors of USB Type C locking connector specification, Newnex has been actively participating activities for USB4 standard development and is working on USB4 enabled products.
Visit newnex.com to learn more about USB connectivity products and industry trend.

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