Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
58,673
22,282



The USB Promoter Group standards body today announced the pending release of a new USB4 specification.

macbookairusbc-800x64.jpg

USB4 converges the Thunderbolt and USB protocols as part of Intel's goal to make Thunderbolt available on a royalty-free basis, which should result in wider and cheaper availability of Thunderbolt accessories like docks and eGPUs.

As USB4 is based on Thunderbolt 3, it offers data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, which is twice as fast as the bandwidth of the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification. USB4's underlying Thunderbolt 3 protocol also means the specification supports up to two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single cable.

The simplest way to view USB4 is as Thunderbolt 3, but royalty free for manufacturers. Intel will continue to offer Thunderbolt 3 on a standalone basis with a few advantages over USB4, including more support with reference designs and technical issues for manufacturers, according to The Verge.

USB4 will use the USB-C connector design and will be backwards compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 specifications.

The USB4 specification is on track to be published around the middle of 2019. Over 50 companies are actively participating in the final stages of review of the draft specification, which should include Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, but it might take a few years until the first USB4 devices are released.

Article Link: Thunderbolt 3 and USB Converge With New 40 Gbps USB4 Specification
 

Wig321

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2018
272
652
So reading this there’s no difference to thunderbolt 3? Will thunderbolt 3 ports on Macs be compatible with usb4?
 

leman

macrumors P6
Oct 14, 2008
17,008
14,726
Excellent news! I hope that the consortium learns from their mistakes and introduces more strict certification for USB4 cable capabilities.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RandomDSdevel

BGPL

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2016
719
1,940
California
It must be killing apple to work with others on a standard while keeping the same connector. I can't wait to see USB-A ports go away... so this is great news, but I find it hard to believe that apple will continue down this road for much longer.
 

cmaier

Suspended
Jul 25, 2007
25,405
33,457
California
So reading this there’s no difference to thunderbolt 3? Will thunderbolt 3 ports on Macs be compatible with usb4?
There’s some details that make it sound like usb4 will offer some lane assignment flexibility beyond tb3, making it a superset. But it isnt clear.
 

ksec

macrumors 68020
Dec 23, 2015
2,083
2,357
Seriously I said this in 2016 and 2017. ( I need to dig that up ) And said we need USB 4 instead of all the mess we have with USB 3.2

Finally they are doing something about it!.


Edit: I guess I was too excited.

This means USB-C will now be the only option. No more USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 ( Or as they are now called USB 3.2 Gen1 / Get 2 ) with Type A Connector. Every USB 4 will be USB-C.

And since USB 4 will mandate the 40Gbps and Thunderbolt 3, it means there is certain quality assurance to USB 4 cable.

Finally, there will be a possibility that iPhone will switch to USB 4, may be just USB 4 with 5Gbps Speed. And I am happy to see this change. ( That is assuming they don't mess up the USB 4 Spec )

Edit 2: After further Reading, 100W Power Delivery may or may not be included in the standard by default. That is kind of expected because it will be quite expensive, but I hope the Standard don't leave it to the Cable Vendor.

And it seems Intel were not lying about opening up TB3. They announced it in 2018 2017, so it has been more than 12 24 months now. I was thinking if Intel were holding TB3 as part of the negotiation with Apple, given how heavily invested Apple is in the TB ecosystem.

I guess the relationship between Intel and Apple aren't as bad. Hopefully more good things to come from both company.
 
Last edited:

jimothyGator

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2008
338
1,088
Atlanta, GA
This is wonderful news! Of course, by mid-2019, Thunderbolt 4 will be ready. I wonder if Thunderbolt will always be one generation ahead of USB, or if they'll full merge the two standards?

My guess is there will be no Thunderbolt 4. What would be Thunderbolt 4 will instead be USB 5. One Connector to Rule Them All. No more DisplayPort. 8K @ 60Hz. Time will tell.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RandomDSdevel

kemal

macrumors 68000
Dec 21, 2001
1,777
2,036
Nebraska
Thunderbolt 3 is an alternate mode for USB C. So will the USB C spec differ from the USB 4 spec, other than the lack of TB royalty payment? This is a cluster.
 

jimothyGator

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2008
338
1,088
Atlanta, GA
It must be killing apple to work with others on a standard while keeping the same connector. I can't wait to see USB-A ports go away... so this is great news, but I find it hard to believe that apple will continue down this road for much longer.

Other than Lightning (and Smart Connector on iPad Pro, I suppose), when is the last time Apple had a proprietary connector? Even the original Thunderbolt was developed with Intel and available to other PC makers.
 

JosephAW

macrumors 603
May 14, 2012
5,116
6,474
USB 5 will probably require a new cable form factor making previous versions obsolete and incompatible.
I can't plus a USB 3 thunderbolt device into an old USB 2 port or thunderbolt without a dongle.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Greymacuser

AngerDanger

Graphics
Staff member
Dec 9, 2008
5,426
28,819
Seriously I said this in 2016 and 2017. ( I need to big that up ) And said we need USB 4 instead of all the mess we have with USB 3.2

Finally they are doing something about it!.

Edit:

This means USB-C will now be the only option. No more USB 3.0 / USB 3.1 ( Or as they are now called USB 3.2 Gen1 / Get 2 ) with Type A Connector. Every USB 4 will be USB-C.

And since USB 4 will mandate the 40Gbps and Thunderbolt 3, it means there is certain quality assurance to USB 4 cable.

Finally, there will be a possibility that iPhone will switch to USB 4, may be just USB 4 with 5Gbps Speed. And I am happy to see this change. ( That is assuming they don't mess up the USB 4 Spec )
Can’t believe they ignored you for 2–3 years! Who do they think they are?! :eek:
 

jimothyGator

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2008
338
1,088
Atlanta, GA
USB 5 will probably require a new cable form factor making previous versions obsolete and incompatible.
I can't plus a USB 3 thunderbolt device into an old USB 2 port or thunderbolt without a dongle.

I doubt it. I think that Intel, if not Apple as well, has learned the benefits of a single cable connection. USB Type C is the result of that learning. They'll stick with it for as long possible, until it's physically impossible to increase the bandwidth over the same wiring.

I'll place a bet with you: If USB 5 doesn't use the USB Type C connector, I owe you a beer. Bookmark this page and get back to me.
 

Ifti

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2010
3,472
1,873
UK
So USB4 is just the same as TB3, just royalty free for manufacturers and peripheral makers?

So does that mean my Thunderbolt 3 drives can be classed as USB4??
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.