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USB Announces USB4 Version 2.0 with up to 80Gbps transfer rate

A close-up photo of a male USB Type-C connector

USB Promoter Group has finally announced (pdf) USB4 Version 2.0. Although the naming hints that it is just a second-gen update to USB4, it supports double the transfer speeds of its predecessor, with up to 80Gbps.

The new standard will be backwards compatible with USB4 version 1.0, USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3, but not with USB 1.0 and Thunderbolt 4. The USB4 2.0 specifications will be updated for USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery (USB PD) as well.

Due to licensing issues, USB and Thunderbolt have been updating parallely. Intel laptops have a Thunderbolt port, while AMD Ryzen ones have the USB4 branding. However, even after Intel updated to Thunderbolt 4, the transfer speeds were roughly equivalent to that of Thunderbolt 3 and USB4 1.0. With the second version, Ryzen-based laptops might have an edge, at least until Intel announces Thunderbolt 5.

Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman, said:

“Once again following USB tradition, this updated USB4 specification doubles data performance to deliver higher levels of functionality to the USB Type-C ecosystem.

Solutions seeing the most benefit from this speed enhancement include higher-performance displays, storage, and USB-based hubs and docks.”

Key characteristics of the updated USB4 solution include:

  • Up to 80 Gbps operation, based on a new physical layer architecture, using existing 40 Gbps USB Type-C passive cables and newly-defined 80 Gbps USB Type-C active cables.
  • Updates to data and display protocols to better use the increase in available bandwidth.
    • USB data architecture updates now enable USB 3.2 data tunneling to exceed 20 Gbps.
    • Updated to align with the latest versions of the DisplayPort and PCIe specifications.
  • Backward compatibility with USB4 Version 1.0, USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3.

USB4 version 2.0 will debut in devices later this year.

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