It doesn’t seem that long since USB ports began getting that nifty splash of colour to designate USB 3.0 but it was actually back in 2010, so a big USB 4 upgrade is probably due. Here’s what it is.
The USB standard hasn’t remained stagnant since the introduction of USB 3.0, of course, getting USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Gen2 and USB 3.2. However, USB 4 promises big jump in the data-transfer load it can support – including one seismic inclusion that could put an end to the need for a separate port for DisplayPort 2.0.
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What is USB 4?
USB 4 is set to support 8K display resolutions (via CNET) – a standard currently only supported by ports and cables capable of utilising DisplayPort 2.0.
However, even if the new standard does launch this year, as it is rumoured, don’t expect it to sport the DisplayPort 2.0 standard on arrival. 8K display support via DisplayPort 2.0 won’t be available until at least 2021.
While people might be mainly lighting up at the idea of ridding themselves of one of their chunkier monitor or PC rig ports, there’s even more to love when it comes to the USB upgrade.
USB 4 will also see data transfer speeds double compared to the current USB 3.2 standard – up from 20Gbps to 40Gbps – as well as better allocating bandwidth between concurrent video and the data transfer.
The enhanced speeds and addition of support for much-used standards mean that, when it comes around, we’ll be seeing more and more devices sporting multiple USB 4 ports rather than a need for a wider selection.
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While consolidation sounds good in theory, it does bring us to what complications it could bring. Firstly, as with all new standards, it could bring about some backwards compatibility issues – with your old tech potentially needing a dongle to adapt to the new port. USB 3 was capable of running across both the USB-A and USB-C but the new standard will require a new USB-C connector to function.
USB 4 devices also don’t have to support Thunderbolt 3 (or Thunderbolt 4 when that comes around) which could cause some confusion, although this is no different to USB 3. Clarity on the matter will be key.