Since mid-2017 we've been talking about the impending arrival of USB 3.2, the next version of the USB Implementers Forum's ubiquitous standard for connecting external devices. With 3.2 serving as both an upgrade to the feature set and a physical layer tweak to provide more bandwidth, according to the USB-IF at MWC 2019, the technology will finally come to fruition this year.

According to the organization that sets the standards for the USB interface, discrete USB 3.2 controllers capable of supporting the standard's new 20 Gb/s Type-C mode will be available this year. Being a specification-setting group, the USB Implementers Forum does not name companies that develop actual chips. But given the limited number of companies that develop standalone USB controllers, the names of the suspects are pretty well known.

Since discrete USB controllers are used mostly by high-performance desktop systems, we're likely to see the first USB 3.2 chips to land on high-end motherboards first. In which case we could see motherboard venders showing off product sometimes this summer, or maybe a bit later. Meanwhile peripherals will likely lag a bit for compatibility testing and the like, in which case we'd start seeing them in 2020.

Though technically only a point upgrade for the USB standard, USB 3.2 includes multiple enhancements for the standard in terms of bandwidth, as well as changes to how the standard is branded. In terms of bandwidth, USB 3.2 introduces the ability to use two high-speed USB Type-C Tx/Rx channels – the so-called x2 mode – to get 20 Gbps maximum throughput on a Type-C cable. The technology retains the USB 3.1 physical layer data rates and encoding techniques (SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+), so while bonding two channels is new, how those individual channels work at a low-level is not.

Meanwhile, USB 3.2 branding will be absorbing the earlier USB 3.0/3.1 branding, as the overriding USB 3.x standard continues to evolve separately of the underlying SuperSpeed encoding technique. As USB 3.2 hosts and devices roll out on the market, we’ll see the branding switch over to USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps SuperSpeed), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps SuperSpeed+), and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (2x10Gbps SuperSpeed+). So while all future products will be 3.2, they won't necessarily support the higher 10Gbps and 20Gbps data rates. Those decisions are up to the device manufacturer, especially as not all devices need the higher speed modes and the increased build costs that come with them.

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Source: USB Implementers Forum

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  • Gastec - Sunday, June 2, 2019 - link

    It looks to me like you are the non-techie non-engineer among us.
  • nathanmnm - Monday, June 3, 2019 - link

    The comments on this page are very amusing, in an elitest jerk sort of way. Suffice to say reference 31 on the Wikipedia page for USB makes it clear that USB4 is now defined and *drumroll* is based on TB3.

    It seems the key to uptake of TB3 was to give it to the USB community all along, connector included, perhaps TB is soon-to-be-dead and has simply been eaten by USB in a sort of carrion eater way, poor dead rotting corpse surrounded by flies? As opposed to the "USB luddites" finally seeing the light and converting to the cult of TB, tbh most of them have never heard of it and arguably never will, it has simply never been relevant to the majority of computer users and yes this is a defensible position, why else would it become royalty free?

    On a related note I take issue with one of the commonly repeated concepts in this discussion, the majority of people do not want or need to know the data throughput of a cable when picking it up. Sure its nice and sure plenty of tech minded people like the idea (including myself and no I am not an engineer, I have a PhD in Physics, am quite happy and rarely get accused of being an elitist jerk), however, consumer tech is designed for the 99% not the 1% and you will never succeed in business if you don't do what people want, you will die a poor elitist jerk, rather than a wealthy one, just saying.

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