THE USB IMPLEMENTERS FORUM (USB-IF) has announced details of USB4 with up to 40Gbps data transfer.
Fresh from confusing the bejesus out of all and sundry with an even more confusing renaming of the current USB 3.x standard, the group has confirmed that it is to officially adopt the Thunderbolt 3 standard to continue the acceleration of data speeds.
USB-C is already capable of carrying Thunderbolt 3, but it is currently carried alongside USB 3.1, as well as USB-PD for power, DisplayLink and HDMI.
Intel, which owns Thunderbolt, has donated it to the cause, confirming support from its forthcoming Ice Lake chips, but will be charging no royalties for progressing the path to a single cable standard. This is pretty important, because so far, the plethora of implementations carried by USB-C, both standard and non-standard, has actually resulted in a bigger minefield than ever.
USB4 will be officially ratified in the summer, with full backwards compatibility promised, which is a good thing as USB4 will require dedicated cables as well as compatible products at both ends.
Although Thunderbolt is more commonly associated with Apple products, an increasing number of Windows laptops have also adopted it - though in some cases, it hasn't been rolled out at full speed.
"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone," said Jason Ziller, general manager of Intel's Client Connectivity Division.
"By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we're opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers."
Over 50 companies are currently working on the project, including most of the best-known OEMs, so there's little doubt that this is no also-ran - and marks a big step forward, being twice the speed of the recently announced USB 3.2 2x2 SuperSpeed+. μ
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