The USB Promoter Group has announced the upcoming release of the USB4 specification. The new standard is based on Intel’s Thunderbolt protocol and supports a range of features, including data transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps, display interfaces, and power delivery. The detailed USB4 specification will be published in the middle of 2019.

The USB4 specification will be based on the Thunderbolt protocol that Intel has contributed to the USB Promoter Group. The new interface will use USB Type-C connectors and will maintain backwards compatibility with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces.  The maximum data transfer rate supported by the new USB4 interface is 40 Gbps over 40 Gbps-certified cables. Also, USB4 will support various display protocols, and power delivery.

The USB4 standard will be officially ratified in the middle of 2019. At present over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of development of the draft USB4 specification.

 

Based on what we know about the USB4 specification at this point, the new standard will use the Thunderbolt protocol, but it will not be exactly Thunderbolt 3 as its functionality will likely be different.

USB Specifications
  USB 1.0 USB 2.0 USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB 3.2
Gen 2
USB 3.2
Gen 2x2
USB4
Alternative Branding - High Speed Super
Speed
Super
Speed+
Super
Speed+
?
Bandwidth 12 Mbps 480 Mbps 5 Gbps 10 Gbps 20 Gbps 40 Gbps
Encoding 8b/10b 128b/132b
Introduction 1996 2001 2009
(USB 3.0)
2014
(USB 3.1 Gen 2)
2017 2019

The contribution of the Thunderbolt 3 protocol to the USB Promoter Group essentially brings TB3 to mainstream PC platforms and enables various companies to integrate its support into their products. Meanwhile, Intel’s Ice Lake processors will be the first CPUs to support Thunderbolt 3 natively.

“Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone,” said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we’re opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”

Related Reading

Sources: USB Promoter Group, Intel

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  • BigMamaInHouse - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    Now Apple can go for AMD 32Core~64core Mac Pro with TB3 support :-) Reply
  • PeachNCream - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    "The detailed USB4 specification will be published in the middle of 2019 and half-assed, cheap hardware that only implements a subset of the total features list in order to cut corners on cost but still use the new name should appear in 2030 behind flimsy out-of-spec connectors and loose, easily damaged cables."

    I had to add a few things to manage expectations and more accurately reflect reality, but I think we've got it now.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    I guess I should add that "Super Speed+" is in need of a revision since it's been around for a while. I humbly suggest "Super Duper Speed+" with a clear path to USB5 (after a confusing run through 4.0.1, 4.1, and why not 4.1.2.2 as well) being referred to as "Super Dee Duper Speed+" because the world asked for simplification and that'll show those whiners. Reply
  • LordSojar - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    Why not "Omega Speed 9000++" and then "QX 912 USB ver 4.1.1.00.12 build rev 4 Beta, now with new Mucho Grande Speed technology for speeds of up to but not limited to but not guaranteed @ 400,000,000 Kbpμs.

    I feel this is very clear.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    If I could upvote your comment, I would have. Reply
  • LordSojar - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    Oh, same my friend! It's funny because it's only mildly sarcastic compared to reality at this stage. The best humor is grounded in reality. Reply
  • magreen - Friday, March 8, 2019 - link

    I'm actually laughing out loud. Reply
  • HStewart - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    Like it or not, USB 4 is basically a Thunderbolt 3

    “Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone,” said Jason Ziller, General Manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we’re opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”
    Reply
  • ikjadoon - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    The above image of "Thunderbolt 3 | The USB-C that does it all" is a tad confusing when read with "The new interface will use USB Type-C connectors and will maintain backwards compatibility with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3 interfaces."

    Is USB4 a superset of Thunderbolt 3 (the text) or is Thunderbolt 3 a superset of USB4 (the image)? The image claims USB4 is a subset of TB3...while the text seems to write TB3 is a subset of USB4.

    Or we just don't know yet?
    Reply
  • stanleyipkiss - Monday, March 4, 2019 - link

    It's just an old ad for TB3. It's got nothing to do with this new standard. There are currently no USB4 materials available. Reply

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