The USB Promoter Group (opens in new tab) has pre-announced the next USB version. USB4 version 2.0 promises to deliver speeds of up to 80Gbps. That’s double the 40Gbps speed of USB4 and Thunderbolt 4.
The technical details are still being worked on, but some of the key characteristics include the aforementioned 80Gbps support, type-c connectors, a higher power delivery spec, backwards compatibility with previous USB and Thunderbolt 3 standards, and support for the latest DisplayPort and PCIe specs.
In a welcome move, existing 40Gbps USB cables should support up to 80Gbps transfer rates, so a good quality 40Gbps USB cable should remain perfectly viable for many years to come.
Even more interesting is the claim that the new spec will allow USB 3.2 devices to potentially exceed 20Gbps. Details on how this will be accomplished aren't yet known. The cables themselves may not be the limiting factor but rather controllers or other components. USB 3.2 devices may also support 'latest versions of the DisplayPort and PCIe specifications.' Backward compatibility is a major strength of the protocol, but elevating the spec of older devices is quite something else. I look forward to seeing just how this comes to fruition, and what, if any limitations there are.
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The USB developers haven't settled on a naming scheme. USB 4.0 Version 2.0 is mercifully, just a placeholder name. It certainly isn’t as clunky a name as SuperSpeed USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, but why not just call it USB 5 or USB 80 Gbps? That would be entirely too logical I guess. Let’s hope it isn’t given some nonsensical branding or retroactively renamed to USB 4.2 Gen 2x4 80Gbps superduperludicrousspeed in the years ahead. It's confusing enough already (opens in new tab).
Names aside, the adoption of faster USB connections is only a good thing. As external SSDs become more popular, the ability to transfer loads of data at faster speeds will definitely be welcome in my household.
Further technical details will be released at two USB developer days scheduled for November. With that in mind, its likely going to be a long time before we see the first USB 4.0 V2 devices on shelves. That leaves plenty of time for the USB group to come up with a ridiculous name for it.