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USB 4 version 2.0 doubles speeds for new and old USB-C cables

Latest update to the standard will increase data performance to 80 Gbps over USB Type-C without the need to buy new cables

The USB Promoter Group has announced the pending release of the USB4 2.0 specification, which will enable up to 80 Gbps of data transfer performance over existing USB Type-C cables and connectors.

The latest update enables USB 4 to double its data transfer speeds with a new physical layer architecture and will apply to existing Type-C passive cables, as well as newly-defined 80 Gbps Type-C active cables.

Full technical details of the new architecture making this all possible have not yet been thoroughly detailed, but cables currently on the market should also achieve 80 Gbps performance when the new standard is released.

Existing USB-C cables currently perform at a maximum speed of 40 Gbps and it is not yet clear how the new USB standard will allow older hardware to perform at the same speeds as newer cables.

Initially aimed at developers, the major update also includes a refresh of the USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery (USB PD) specifications to enable the higher level of data performance, the group said in an announcement.

“Once again, following USB tradition, this updated USB 4 specification doubles data performance to deliver higher levels of functionality to the USB Type-C ecosystem,” said Brad Saunders, chairman at USB Promoter Group. 

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

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The USB Promoter Group consists of tech giants such as Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, STMicroelectronics, and Texas instruments. 

It’s tasked with developing the USB family of specifications to meet current market needs, while also developing specification addendums – such as USB Power Delivery and USB Type-C – to extend support for more platform types.

There are also updates to data and display protocols, which will enable higher performance USB 3.2, DisplayPort, and PCI Express (PCIe) data tunnelling to make use of the expanded bandwidth.

These architecture updates will enable USB 3.2 data tunnelling to exceed 20 Gbps, USB Promoter Group said, as well as align with DisplayPort and PCIe specifications.

Additionally, the updated USB 4 standard offers backward compatibility with USB 4 Version 1.0, USB 3.2, USB 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3.

The update is specifically targeted at developers currently, the Group said, but branding and marketing guidelines will be updated “in the future” to include USB 80 Gbps for identifying certified products and certified cables.

The specification updates are expected to be published in advance of this year’s series of USB DevDays developer events, which will take place in November.

USB Developer Days 2022 will include detailed technical training on updates to USB 4, USB Type-C, and USB PD specs, scheduled for 1-2 November in Seattle, WA, and 15-16 November in Seoul, South Korea.

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