USB 4 is coming!

USB,  or Universal Serial Bus, is a major game-changer in the computing world. Created by a group of renowned computer manufacturers which include Microsoft, Intel, Compaq, IBM, and others, the USB was crafted to provide a specific and vital function. To allow external devices to connect to the computer without the trouble of having multiple cables at the back of the computer. Technology has advanced and improved rapidly over the course of a few years. Starting at the first generation of  USB is USB 1.0 which was released in 1996. Now, the latest generation, USB 4, is coming within 2021. There are many promising features that USB 4 provides, that one can take advantage of.


What is USB 4?


USB 4 is the most advanced and improved version of the USB. It was crafted to simplify the USB-C port that had one major issue, a different size, and shape to the port. Also, naturally it will boast greater speeds compared to its direct predecessor USB 3.2. It was named USB 4 rather than the more traditional name of USB 4.0, due to the fact that the USB Promoter Group wanted the consumer to focus on the capabilities of the USB 4 instead of centering on the decimal point, which is the case with the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1.


USB 4 Specifications


What are the USB 4 Specifications and how does it apply to me? Specifications are important information that every consumer should be aware of. It details the technology and how one should implement it. These principles are agreed upon and should be abided by.  Not much is known about the specifications of the USB 4. However, these specifications are needed to distinguish USB 4 from its predecessors.

These are:


  • Faster speeds: 40 gigabytes per second
  • Based on the Thunderbolt protocol
  • Compatibility with the USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3.0
  • Two lane operations
  • 128b/132b encoding


Fortunately, the more comprehensive specifications list of the USB 4 will publish in the middle of 2019.


Thunderbolt 3.0


Thunderbolt 3.0, created by Intel, has slowly been garnering traction in the world of computers. In fact, it is predicted that Thunderbolt 3.0 will be fully integrated with most external devices. These include external devices, displays, and smartphones. Despite these goals, personal computers manufacturers find the Thunderbolt hard to implement within their products because Intel has a strong hold on its distribution. This will result in the price of the Thunderbolt being much higher since there is less supply.

The Thunderbolt 3.0 has some commendable specs. These include fast transfer speeds of up to 40 gigabytes per second. It comes with PCIe, display and USB support. Also, when charging your smartphones, the Thunderbolt is able to provide up to 100 watts of energy. But what exactly is the relationship between the USB4 and the Thunderbolt 3.0?


USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3.0


As stated before, USB 4 supports Thunderbolt 3.0. However, Thunderbolt 3.0 and USB 4 may not have the same specifications; it mostly depends on the computer manufacturers and their desire to implement this feature.

Now, as it pertains to the protocol of the USB 4 compared to that of the Thunderbolt 3.0, they are not similar. However, if you possess the right cables, then you will be able to transfer information from a USB port if it supports Thunderbolt 3.0. However, the transfer will be impossible, if the cable supports USB and not Thunderbolt.

Furthermore, the drivers of the Thunderbolt 3.0  has a lot to say regarding the support between the two ports. However, there is a lot of promise with the compatibility between USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3.0.




With the expectations of the release of the USB 4 being high, the latest and most improved generation of USB has a lot to offer. In addition to faster speeds, there is also backward compatibility, two-lane operations and even support for the Thunderbolt 3.0. This will allow for faster transfer speeds and more watts for charging of smaller devices. The USB 4 is hoping to drop in the year, 2021 with great and wonderful features that will not leave us wanting.