This USB 4—or USB4,as the official brand]—is on the tech horizon, and like Wi-Fi 6E or 5G cellular, you may have a lot of questions about what the new USB standard means for many of your devices. So, let's take a quick look at everything we know about the upcoming USB4.
This is a huge increase in speed and bandwidth.
USB4 is claimed to be twice as fast as the current USB 3.2 standard (20Gbps),
which means it will support speeds of up to 40Gbps as the maximum in most cases. (Your actual speed will obviously vary depending on what device you're using.)
USB cables use two "paths" to send and receive signals from connected devices. However, some devices will be able to convert a USB4 cable into a one-way delivery.
For example, Display Port 2.0 "Alternative mode" will increase the available signal bandwidth by up to 80Gbps,
high enough to support 8K HDR video monitors and other high-speed devices via USB4.
Two-lane delivery also means some USB 4 devices will support Intel and Apple's Thunderbolt 3 standards.
Even if it's up to the manufacturer.
Speaking of greater bandwidth allocations,
USB4 also supports the USB PD charging standard, which means your smartphone and other devices can charge much faster via USB4—provided it's made to support fast charging, it is.
USB 4 devices can support three maximum speeds: 10Gbps, 20Gbps, and 40Gbps.
In other words, make sure you scan the device's specifications for maximum speed supported if that's what matters most to you when you buy, say, a new laptop (or hub).
And there's one more speed-related feature that really accentuates the advantages of USB4, as Tom Tom's Hardware explains:
A big part of the USB 4 specification is the ability to dynamically adjust the amount of resources available when you send video and data over the same connection.
So, let's say you have a USB 4 with a maximum of 40 Gbps and you output it onto a 4K monitor while copying a lot of files from an external SSD. And let's establish that a video feed requires about 12.5 Gbps. In this case, USB 4 will allocate the remaining 27.5 Mbps to your backup drive.
USB 4 will be backward compatible.
The USB4 cable will use a Type-C connector, which is a flat, round port found in most smartphones and laptops today.
You should be able to plug a USB 4 cable into almost any USB Type-C port,
But it won't always work the same way.
For example, a USB4 cable will experience a decrease in speed when plugged into a longer port,
while the old USB Type-C cable plugged into the USB4B 4.0 port
It will use the top transfer speed by default (but cannot reach the same speed as a USB4 cable).
Similarly, you may need and adapter to use a USB4 cable with a USB Type-A port,
Which you usually see on a PC.
Why "USB 4?"
According to USB Promoter Group CEO Brad Saunders, the brand is "USB4"
It was chosen to avoid confusion caused by the gradual improvement of the previous USB standards, namely "USB 3.1" and "USB 3.2."
It's also possible that USB4 could be rebranded, or a further upgrade—what should be "USB 4.1."
for example—will see a more definite naming difference even though it's still technically "USB4."
When will USB 4 appear?
The first USB 4 cables and devices are expected to arrive around the end of 2020, but 2021 may be more likely at this point.
Part of this is because USB4 will be more expensive than the older types of USB to produce. And we're in the midst of a global production halt, which in no way helps speed up the rollout of USB4.