USB4 will double data transfer speeds with the help of Thunderbolt

Future PCs and mobile devices with USB-C ports will soon benefit from the same data transfer speeds enjoyed by those with Thunderbolt ports.

The next generation USB4 specification, announced today, will deliver data transfer speeds of up to 40GBps, when using compatible USB-C cables connecting a pair of compatible devices.

Currently, USB3 speeds max out at 20GBps so the new specification, due to be finalised by the summer, will double the rates currently on offer. If you’re thinking this sounds an awful lot like Thunderbolt, you’d be right. USB4 now includes Thunderbolt 3 thanks to Intel’s decision to open up the standard.

Integration of Thunderbolt also means support for a pair of 4K HDR displays (with refresh rates of 60Hz) or a single 5K display. Eight lanes of DisplayPort data will also be supported by USB4.

The USB-IF, which manages the specifications, says the new protocol will build upon the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 standards. It says 50 tech companies are currently participating in a final review of the USB4 tech, with the specification set to be published around the middle of the year.

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Among those companies reviewing the tech are Apple, Microsoft, Intel, HP, Texas Instruments and other members of the USB Promoters Forum. We can safely assume all PCs and Macs made by the major manufacturers will be adopting the new specification at the earliest possible opportunity.

“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, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “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.”

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