The USB Promoter Group has unveiled the specificities of the next USB protocol. It is based on the qualities of the Thunderbolt 3, developed by Intel and Apple.
The USB Promoter Group has just published the specifications of the new standard, and if they based the architecture on USB 3.2, the great novelty — and even great revolution — is that it introduces the specificities and strengths of Thunderbolt 3, such as the transfer and exchange of different flows (images, data…) at high speed.
On the market since 2021
Based on USB 3.2, the new standard will allow backward compatibility with older USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 devices, and we are therefore moving towards a universal standard for Mac and PC universes through USB-C cables. What many were asking for, both industrialists and users.
The only downside is that it will not be for now, since we are talking about the second half of 2019 for this standard to be definitively adopted, and the year 2021, for the first devices with this chip to be released on the market. For manufacturers, the fact that the USB Promoter Group includes Thunderbolt 3 in this standard means no more royalties to Intel and Apple, owners of this innovation. The future will tell if this translates into cheaper products.
Will Intel Thunderbolt 3 replace USB?
By merging its Thunderbolt high-speed transfer technology with the new reversible USB-C format, Intel is offering a versatile and powerful connector that could well replace USB in all future electronic devices and simplify users’ lives.
A cable to connect and power computers, smartphones, tablets, peripherals, and other electronic devices… Can we reasonably believe and hope that, soon, our electrical outlets and offices will no longer be equipped with adapters and cables in various formats? That’s Intel’s promise with its new Thunderbolt 3 connector unveiled at the Computex show currently being held in Taiwan.
The founder does not hesitate to talk about “nirvana of the computer port” by praising a technical sheet. It is true that it is attractive: a theoretical maximum speed of 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) compared to 20 Gbps for the Thunderbolt 2, the possibility of simultaneously connecting two Ultra HD displays, providing a 10 Gigabit Ethernet connection and supplying power to the devices by providing up to 100 watts.
USB-C, finally a single cable to do it all
The major innovation is the adoption of the USB-C connector instead of the mini DisplayPort used since the launch of Thunderbolt in 2011. The USB Type C or USB-C is the latest evolution of the great connector, one of the advantages of which is that it is reversible because the two ends of the cable are identical.
You won’t no longer need to respect a direction to connect a plug or USB key using this format which is also extremely thin (8.4 x 2.6 mm). These tiny dimensions will allow, on the one hand, to refine the design of computers, smartphones, and tablets and, on the other hand, to integrate it into connected objects. Apple is one of the first manufacturers to have adopted the USB-C port in its all-new MacBook, but it can also be found on Google’s latest Chromebook Pixel and Nokia’s N1 tablet.