The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has today announced USB 4, the next version of the ubiquitous connector. The specifications for the USB 4 haven’t yet disclosed but expected later this year. An increase is expected with its maximum speed of 40GB offered its current version USB 3.2. The Thunderbolt 3 specifications first started shipping on devices during 2015. It significantly encouraged adoption in 2017 and Intel announced that it was going to make the standard available to other chipmakers. The new standard allows anyone to manufacture technology for free. Intel is finally making good on this promise with USB 4.
Most people familiar with Thunderbolt 3 know a lot of the specs of USB 4. It has the ability to deliver up to 100W of power and enough data throughput for the use of external graphics cards, and to power two 4K displays, or a single 5K display. You’ll need to use cables that are capable of 40 GB speeds to enjoy the full benefits of the standard. But, any existing Thunderbolt 3 cables you have should work with the new port. It means that USB 4 is essentially just catching up with a 3-year-old technology. It’s likely to become both more widely available and cheaper after becoming an open standard.
The USB-IF is also hoping to use the USB 4 standard in simplifying the USB ecosystem. Instead of each USB device picking and choosing which aspects of the standard it supports. The group also needs to produce a list of features each kind of USB 4 device will have to offer. It would standardize features such as display out and audio out. This simplification seems a sensible approach, but the issue is that USB is an open standard and the implementation of any of these recommendations will be voluntary. Manufacturing companies will be able to have their devices certified by the USB-IF, but optionally.