Monday, March 4th 2019

USB Promoter Group Announces USB4 Specification

While we just recently covered the USB 3.2 specification. The USB Promoter Group has today announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, a major update to deliver the next generation USB architecture that compliments and builds on the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 architectures. The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification recently contributed by Intel Corporation. It doubles the bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.

The new USB4 architecture defines a method to share a single high-speed link with multiple end device types dynamically that best serves the transfer of data by type and application. As the USB Type-C connector has evolved into the role as the external display port of many host products, the USB4 specification provides the host the ability to optimally scale allocations for display data flow. Even as the USB4 specification introduces a new underlying protocol, compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices is supported; the resulting connection scales to the best mutual capability of the devices being connected. "The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution," said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman. "The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this experience by optimizing the blend of data and display over a single connection and enabling the further doubling of performance."

Key characteristics of the USB4 solution include:
  • Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables and up to 40 Gbps operation over 40 Gbps certified cables
  • Multiple data and display protocols to efficiently share the total available bandwidth over the bus
  • Backward compatibility with USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3
With over 50 companies actively participating in the final stages of review of the draft specification, the USB4 specification is on track to be published around the middle of 2019. Coincident with the release of the USB4 specification, the release of an updated USB Type-C Specification will be made to comprehend USB4 bus discovery, configuration and performance requirements.

USB Developer Days 2019, in the second half of this year, will include detailed technical training covering the USB4 specification and the latest for USB Type-C, USB Power Delivery, and other exciting topics. This update is part of the USB performance roadmap and is specifically targeted to developers at this time. Branding and marketing guidelines will be established after the final specification is published. "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." "USB4's high throughput and advanced features enable new scenarios in consumer, enterprise, and intelligent edge markets, while maintaining interoperability with existing USB and Thunderbolt 3 devices," said Roanne Sones, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft OS Platforms. "We are excited to work with our partners in the ecosystem to bring USB4 to market and showcase its benefits."
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17 Comments on USB Promoter Group Announces USB4 Specification

#2
Fasola
ZoneDymo, post: 4005809, member: 66089"
USB 3.3 Gen 3
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2x2
Posted on Reply
#3
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
So it is ditching all other connectors for Type-C? Makes sense to me.

Begs the question why they even bothered with 3.2 announcement if USB 4 is the actual successor.
Posted on Reply
#4
ViperXTR
Usb 3.2: This is not even my final form
Posted on Reply
#5
R0H1T
FordGT90Concept, post: 4005856, member: 60463"
So it is ditching all other connectors for Type-C? Makes sense to me.

Begs the question why they even bothered with 3.2 announcement if USB 4 is the actual successor.
It's not that USB 3.2 wasn't the successor, it's because Intel probably wanted USB4 with TB3 protocol. The only reason TB isn't irrelevant, like firewire, today is because it's now free & open(?) standard.
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#6
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
https://usb.org/sites/default/files/2019-03/USB_PG_USB4_DevUpdate_Announcement_FINAL_20190226.pdf
About the USB Promoter Group
The USB Promoter Group, comprised of Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard Inc., Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Renesas Electronics Corporation, ST Microelectronics, and Texas Instruments, continues to develop the USB family of specifications to meet the market needs for increased functionality and performance of USB solutions. Additionally, the USB Promoter Group develops specification addendums (USB Power Delivery, USB Type-C™, and others) to extend or adapt its specifications to support more platform types or use cases where adopting USB technology will be beneficial in delivering a more ubiquitous, richer user experience.
About the USB-IF
The non-profit USB Implementers Forum, Inc. was formed to provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of USB technology as defined in the USB specifications. The USB-IF facilitates the development of high-quality compatible USB devices through its logo and compliance program, and promotes the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing. Further information, including postings of the most recent product and technology announcements, is available by visiting the USB-IF website at www.usb.org.
So a small subset of corporations decided to create USB4. USB-IF can only iterate on existing USB standards likely because of copyright, patents, and/or trademarks held by Intel. Makes me think USB-IF tried to jump ahead of Promoter Group and so Promoter Group launched USB4 to snub them.

Edit: Hmm...last line:
USB Type-C™ and USB-C™ are trademarks of USB Implementers Forum. Thunderbolt™ is a trademark of Intel Corporation.
Looks like IF pulled USB Type-C out from under Intel and now Intel is trying to wrest control back by forcing USB4 to operate on Thunderbolt. Article literally says as much in verbatim:
The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt™ protocol specification recently contributed by Intel Corporation.
Thunderbolt was by most accounts a failure. Outside of Apple, it saw virtually no support. Now Intel is attempting to ramthroat it to everyone via USB4.

...I get now why USB-IF preempted the Promoter Group. We got a format war brewing. Also explains the mess that is USB 3.1 and 3.2.

Identical connectors, different technologies. This is going to end well. :banghead:
Posted on Reply
#7
hat
Enthusiast
FordGT90Concept, post: 4005897, member: 60463"
Identical connectors, different technologies. This is going to end well. :banghead:
So it's safe to say I'm not the only one that thinks this somehow feels like the '90s with many different standards and connectors for everything?
Posted on Reply
#9
Mussels
Moderprator
4.0 gen 1 4x2=8 quick maffs edition
Posted on Reply
#10
bug
FordGT90Concept, post: 4005856, member: 60463"
So it is ditching all other connectors for Type-C? Makes sense to me.

Begs the question why they even bothered with 3.2 announcement if USB 4 is the actual successor.
Probably because the final spec and first implementation are still at least a year away? USB 3.2 devices may be a lot closer than that.
Posted on Reply
#11
BorgOvermind
ViperXTR, post: 4005862, member: 92376"
Usb 3.2: This is not even my final form

Almost a R.I.P. stone, good job. :P
Posted on Reply
#14
Slizzo
Lots of people poo pooing this.

Intel made the USB spec long ago, and yes, they made the thunderbolt spec. Adding thunderbolt to USB and releasing it free is a great turn for everyone. What's so bad about having more bandwidth available over a USB-C connector?
Posted on Reply
#15
bug
Slizzo, post: 4006153, member: 97498"
Lots of people poo pooing this.

Intel made the USB spec long ago, and yes, they made the thunderbolt spec. Adding thunderbolt to USB and releasing it free is a great turn for everyone. What's so bad about having more bandwidth available over a USB-C connector?
I believe the discontent is aimed at USB-IF and their "creative" naming past USB 3.0. That's all.
Though I thought Thunderbolt doesn't carry as much current as USB does, so how will that be made backwards compatible? Unless I'm missing something obvious (which is always a possibility).
Posted on Reply
#16
Mussels
Moderprator
I bet whats happened is a bunch of hardware was ready to release, and they knew this was coming

so they had to release a name for the upcoming hardware, whilst keeping 'usb 4' for the big version with intels backing
Posted on Reply
#17
Slizzo
Mussels, post: 4006624, member: 1746"
I bet whats happened is a bunch of hardware was ready to release, and they knew this was coming

so they had to release a name for the upcoming hardware, whilst keeping 'usb 4' for the big version with intels backing
Agreed. However USB-IF should have kept USB 3.0 as USB 3.0, USB 3.1 as USB 3.1, and the new USB spec as USB 3.2. What's so hard to understand about USB 3.0, 3.1 and 3.2? Why rename stuff and cause confusion in the interest of "trying to keep from confusion". Like, WTF USB-IF?
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