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Monday, March 04, 2019

USB4 specification looks to double bandwidth over Type-C connectors for displays

By Nick Flaherty

The USB Promoter Group has launched its 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 to double the bandwidth and enable multiple simultaneous data and display protocols. It 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.

This comes from the USB Type-C connector being used as the external display port of many host products, so the USB4 specification provides the host the ability to optimally scale allocations for display data flow, while maintaining compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices.

“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 and the multiple data and display protocols to efficiently share the total available bandwidth over the bus

Over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of review of the draft specification, which is set to be published around the middle of 2019. Alongside will be an update of the USB Type-C Specification to include USB4 bus discovery, configuration and performance requirements.

“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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