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USB 3.2 explained: Understand current and confusing USB standards



The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF for those who need another USB acronym) has been busy lately from announcing the upcoming USB 4 specification to upgrade the current USB Rename default. With a fingercut – OK, a white paper – USB 3.1 is now USB 3.2 .

And if that's not confusing enough, the new USB 3.2 branding also includes the older USB 3.0 standard to create a total of three USB 3.2 variants. And if is not confusing enough, the USB 3.2 variants can also be described with a series of "SuperSpeed ​​USB" marketing phrases.

USB 4 seems to be straightforward: it uses the USB-C connector and provides transfer speeds of up to 40 gigabits per second while baking in Thunderbolt Quality. While we await the arrival of USB 4 at a far-away, yet to-be-determined date (end of 2020 is the best guess), we have to move through the current mess of USB 3.2. To give you an idea of ​​the USB branding that you find with current products, we want to find out what and how we came here.

Not the first change of USB name

This is not the first time that USB names have been used moved USB 1

.0, 1.1 and 1.2 were added to USB 2.0. When USB 3.1 appeared, USB 3.0 suddenly became USB 3.1 Gen 1, and the newer standard received the label USB 3.1 Gen 2.

We are now in a similar location with USB 3.2. The latest, fastest version of USB 3.2 offers a maximum speed of 20 Gbit / s and is called USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. (The 2×2 means it's the second generation and has two 10 Gbps lanes to reach the maximum throughput of 20 Gbps.) The older USB 3.1 has a single 10 Gbps channel and is called USB 3.2 Gen 2. Then there is USB 3.0, which is now called USB 3.2 Gen 1.

Know your USB 3.2 versions

If you are looking for the above mentioned USB 3.2 Gen 1 and 2 names, If you're trying to make the best possible connection between your devices, your work is not done. This is because there are separate marketing conditions for each of the three versions of USB 3.2 that the USB-IF encourages providers to use for their packaging. (Whether providers will follow this suggestion or use the above terms remains to be seen.) You need to know both terms.) The marketing terms for USB 3.2 devices are: SuperSpeed ​​USB, SuperSpeed ​​USB 10Gbps and SuperSpeed ​​USB 20Gbps.

You may find it helpful to avoid confusion and USB branding headaches when you post everything in the table:

USB 3.2 Versions

New Name Old name Original name SuperSpeed ​​Name Maximum speed
USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 N / A USB 3.2 SuperSpeed ​​USB 20Gbps 20 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB 3.1 SuperSpeed ​​USB 10Gbps 10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ​​USB 5 Gbps

Type A vs. C

But wait, there is more! USB not only offers different speeds, but also different physical forms. USB type A connectors are rectangular. You need to insert your cable right side up. USB Type-C connectors are smaller, oval, and reversible because you do not have to know which end is up. (Type B connectors are the larger, square-shaped connectors you've probably seen on the back of a printer.)

  18-harman-kardon-esquire-mini-2

This Harman Kardon speaker also serves as a Battery pack. It has USB A (mid) and USB C (right) sockets.


Sarah Tew / CNET

All USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 products use the Type-C connector, but not all USB-C connectors are USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. A USB-C port can be either 20 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 or 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2. A USB type A port can be 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2, 5 Gbps 3.2 Gen 1 or even USB 2.0. USB 4 will eliminate this confusion next year, but until then you need to read the fine print of the products to make sure you get the expected USB 3.2 connection between your devices.

One thing you do not have to worry about a newer USB product does not work with an older device. USB 3.2 devices are backwards compatible with all existing USB products. What you sacrifice is throughput; Two products with different USB functions work with the transfer speed of older devices.

USB PD

No, this is not a city police department. USB PD stands for USB Power Delivery and offers the ability to charge all types of devices. It used to be a convenient way to charge your phone in an emergency. USB has now been developed to charge larger, more powerful devices with larger, more powerful batteries. USB PD can reach up to 100 watts, enough to charge laptops and tablets.

USB PD knows how much power to use for a given device, from a maximum of 100 watts to charge your laptop up to a fraction of it to complete the phone. USB PD is also smart enough to know that the laptop should charge the phone when connecting the phone to the laptop and not the opposite. If you see a product with the USB PD label, it can serve as a universal charger for most, if not all, USB devices.

Read more: Wi-Fi 6 explains


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