What if ThunderBolt 3 merged with USB to form USB 4?

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USB 4 isn’t just a myth but should soon be a reality. It will merge current speeds of a ThunderBolt 3 standard with all the flexibility of a USB. Just to put that bump in speed into context, you now stand to enjoy over 8 times more transfer speed compared to your USB 3.2 Gen 1. You can read our article here for all the USB generations that are currently in use, along with their features.

So, starting off with the fastest USB available in the market right now, the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, which caps out at 20Gbps. If the USB 4 ceases to exist, it will easily reach up to 40Gbps of max transfer speeds. Not just that, you also get the ability to push out digital signals for external monitors and deliver power to charge your smartphone or a laptop. Doesn’t this sound like an all in one solution for all our connectivity needs?

Why not just use ThunderBolt 3?

ThunderBolt 3

Now, you might have a question in mind right now. Why not just use ThunderBolt 3 on all PCs, they already use a USB-C port to connect, don’t they? Well, let me answer my own question, TB3 was a closed standard, the specifications weren’t exactly public and it was expensive to manufacturer. That’s also one of the reasons why the adoption was pretty slow, but Intel plans to change that soon.

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Why now?

The company promised something in 2017, to make the standard available to other chip makes. Basically, it will allow any manufacturer to implement the technology royalty-free and encourage adoption. The USB 4 was announced by the USB-IF on March 4, with the said specs, so seems like Intel is finally making good on its promise. Although, the drafted specifications will only become official when it’s published later this year.

What will USB 4 be capable of?

USB 4 USB Type C

Ending this piece off with the specs, in case you didn’t know. You will need to use cables capable of 40Gbps speeds to enjoy all the benefits. The same is also the maximum data transfer speeds, the same as Thunderbolt 3. It will also be capable of a 100W of power output while being able to power up to two 4k displays or one 5k display. And the most hyped application of all, support for an external GPU.

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There are still a few aspects to iron out, and that should all be sorted out by the time the tech is ready for us consumers. Ohh, and it’s USB Type C exclusive, so, USB Type-A should soon become history. The specifications are expected to arrive sometime in the second half of this year. After that, USB IF expects a year plus half for the manufacturing process to begin. Maybe we will see a glimpse of USB 4 at the CES 2020?