Designed in the mid-1990s, USB or Universal Serial Bus, the industry standard for connecting electronic devices with peripherals for most of the last two decades. Approximately 2017, USB ports and connectors are practically ubiquitous on electronic devices of all shapes and sizes, having successfully replaced a number of different interfaces, including serial ports, parallel ports and various proprietary charging connectors for mobile devices such as phones and tablets. While the existing USB 3.1 standard almost universally used by electronics OEMs around the world, a new USB 3.2 standard on the cards if a recent announcement something to do.
What is USB 3.2?
Earlier this week, the USB 3.0 Promoters Group announced its final draft USB 3.2 specifications that promise to double the speed of data transfer with Type-C reversible cables. So, while existing SuperSpeed ??USB 3.1 (generation 1) cables will see their theoretical speeds increase from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps, SuperSpeed ??+ 10 Gbps (generation 2) cable speeds will increase from 10 Gbps to 20 Gbps, although passive cables they can only support those speeds if their length is less than 1 meter.
While these speeds are only the theoretical upper limits of the USB 3.2 standard and will be difficult to match in real life, the announcement of the new specifications is still an important step towards faster connectivity at a time when the Internet of Things is just beginning to obtain a more widespread consensus among traditional consumers. According to the USB 3.0 Promoters Group press release, " the specifications of USB 3.2 are now in a final phase of proofreading "and will be formally released at the USB Developer Days North America event in September 2017.
How will double the speeds if I use the same cable?
If you want to know how the new specifications will be able to double the speed of your existing USB Type-C cables, you will first need to understand how the cables are wired. Since the USB Type-C interface is also used by non-USB protocols like Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort, the cables and ports have four pairs of cables to support this flexibility. While Thunderbolt 3 uses all four pairs at the same time, USB 3.1 uses only two, leaving the other two unused. This is exactly where the new standard comes into play.
Although USB 3.2 will maintain the data transfer rates and encoding techniques of the USB 3.1 standard, unlike its predecessor, it will use all four lanes available for data transmission and reception, like the proprietary Apple and Intel connector technology. While the upcoming implementation of USB 3.2 speed things up when it comes to transferring data from one device to another, it will also bring some minor changes to the hub specifications, bringing faster connectivity and perfect transitions between single and double lane operations.
When can we expect to get super fast USB 2.0 speeds?
As exciting as it is, there is a big obstacle to the immediate adoption of USB 3.2 even after the official announcement at the end of this year. While the new standard will be backward compatible with the previous generation USB standards as expected, you will need both the host and the client to be natively compatible with USB 3.2 to be able to transfer data at a dizzying speed of 2, 5 GB / s (20 Gbps). That being the case, don't expect to get twice as fast with your new glossy USB Type-C cable at any time, because it may take some time before the new standard starts being distributed on global OEM devices.
USB 3.2 The answer to all our connectivity needs?
The USB 3.2, in theory, could one day change the way we charge our smartphones, laptops, wireless speakers and game consoles, but if our experience with the USB Type-C interface anything, the reality might not necessarily be so rosy. Type-C was once touted as the panacea for all our debit and data transfer problems, but the real-world experience, unfortunately, was completely different. The USB Type-C cable market is at best disconcerting and at worst scary, with various products claiming to offer the highest speeds, but very few adhere to the official specifications that will make them universally compatible, which was the point of the whole exercise in the first place.
As an informed user, the easiest way to identify a standard USB Type-C cable is to check the official logo assigned to a product only after passing the USB-IF test process. Although certified products do not always offer promised speed, you will not have to worry about compatibility or frying your expensive gadgets due to faulty cables or poor quality control during the production process. However, if you can get a real Type-C cable that supports USB 3.1 standards, you should be able to take advantage of technological advances in the days ahead.