Hot on the heels of last week's USB 3.2 news - where the USB-IF tried to simplify consumer choices as we go forward - there is news today on another new USB standard, USB4.
Thunderbolt 3 integration also enables the simultaneous transfer of both data and display protocols, meaning that you can daisy-chain 4K monitors and other Thunderbolt 3 devices, like external storage or GPU enclosures, together into one cable that connects to your PC.
Intel says that over 400 PC designs have come with Thunderbolt 3 support from the likes of HP, Dell, Lenovo, Apple, and Asus, with the number of units shipped doubling each year into the "tens of millions".
The next generation of Universal Serial Bus (USB) input/output connectors will based on the Intel/Apple designed Thunderbolt protocol, while retaining backwards compatibility with existing devices.
The new USB4 architecture defines a method to share a single high-speed link with multiple end device types dynamically that best serves the transfer of data by type and application. Coincident with the release of the USB4 specification, the release of an updated USB Type-C Specification will be made to comprehend USB4 bus discovery, configuration and performance requirements.
USB 2.0 ports and devices are going to be around for a long time. The new two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables supports up to 40 Gbps data transfer when certified cables are used.
According to the USB Promoter Group announcement, USB4 specifications aren't supposed to be out until sometime in mid 2019, however, with 50 plus companies actively participating, observers may start to see early implementations in device hardware soon. It's a welcome development, though it adds yet another spec name to an already-crowded field of USB specs that laptop and desktop shoppers must consider. Branding and marketing guidelines will be established after the final specification is published.
Ultimately, relinquishing control over Thunderbolt 3 is indeed a "significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone", as Intel General Manager for Client Connectivity Jason Ziller said in a statement. "We are excited to work with our partners in the ecosystem to bring USB4 to market and showcase its benefits". That's because the USB-C port can be a Thunderbolt port, but it can also be a standard USB 3.x port.
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