USB 4: What is this new type of electronic connection?

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The latest electronic connector, USB 4, has recently been announced.  This new Universal Serial Bus is meant to have greater performance capacities than Type C USB released in 2014.  Read on to learn more about this latest USB connector. 

Recap on the history of USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) are used to connect peripheral devices to a computer or any type of device such as tablets, smartphones and cameras to name just a few. The first USB connector, called USB 1.0, came out in 1996.  The very first connector had data transfer rates of only 1.5 Mbit/s.  These speeds are very slow if we consider that the second generation of USB 3.1 released in 2013 had data transfer rates of 10 Gbit/s!

Between the two USB mentioned above the USB 1.1 (2000) and first generation USB 3.1 (2008) were also released. The first version of the Wireless USB was released in 2005.  The most recent USB protocol to be released is the Type-C USB which came out in 2014.  This model aimed to replace all the previous connectors mentioned above.

Credits: Max Pixel

Latest standard due to arrive

Nowadays, no less than 4 billion USB connectors are sold every year!  Overtime, USB has more or less become the only connector and today its biggest competition is not having the need of a connector at all! In fact, a few months ago, Meizu Zero was launched onto the market as the first smartphone in the world “without holes”. Instead of using a cable the device uses a Wireless USB 3.0 to transfer files and to charge the battery.

Although wireless technologies are developing, they still have a long way to go to outrun USB connectors.  However on the 4 March 2019, the USB Implementer-Forum published a statement announcing the ultimate protocol called USB 4.  According to the document, this new generation “compliments and builds on the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 architectures…[and] doubles
the bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.” This means that older versions of the USB are compatible including the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) which is already capable of transferring data at a rate of 40 Gb/s!

Nevertheless, USB 4 allows a dynamic management of the bandwidth for all devices connected to only one USB.  In other words, the bandwidth is not divided into equal parts between all connected devices but is instead distributed considering the characteristics of each device.  However if you want to see this new connecting device you will have to be patient. More precise information will be revealed at the next USB Developers Day which is held in Autumn 2019.  Only then can we learn more about the release date of the USB 4 which will be used for the majority of Apple devices.

Sources : Tom’s HardwarePresse Citron

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