The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), an independent technology standards group, has officially rung in the era of USB 3.2 at MWC 2019. However, USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 – as you know them – aren’t going anywhere.
While USB 3.2 marks a new level of data transfer speed reached for the standard at 20 Gigabits per second (Gbps), it also will see previous USB technologies become rebranded “USB 3.2” in technical product listings, Computer Base reports (opens in new tab).
This means that what is known as USB 3.1 Gen 1 today, which offers 5Gbps data transfer speeds, will henceforth be known as USB 3.2 Gen 1. Likewise, what we call USB 3.1 Gen 2 today will now be called USB 3.2 Gen 2, which still offers 10Gbps transfer speeds.
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Ports and devices carrying the new level of transfer speeds that USB 3.2 introduces – again, 20Gbps – will be known as USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. This increase in transfer speed is achieved by placing another 10Gbps data transfer channel within the connector, which is only possible in the Type-C format that is all but taking over smartphones and laptops.
Another quagmire for consumers
It’s unknown exactly when we’ll see laptops and other devices bearing ports capable of USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 transfer speeds, but it’s expected that manufacturers will soon adopt the new naming conventions for current and upcoming products that will continue using 5Gbps and 10Gbps USB ports.
The USB-IF has attempted to get in front of any potential confusion with suggested marketing names: SuperSpeed USB, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps and SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps. Unfortunately, this isn’t any different from how the organization has tried to do this in the past, and manufacturers have been historically terrible at adopting this naming convention.
It will be up to manufacturers to come up with their own methods of educating consumers on the specifics of their products’ USB ports. Of course, we’ll be sure to take manufacturers to task on this front, too.
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