USB4 Version 2.0 with 80Gbps speeds is coming

Image of a USB Type-C cable
(Image credit: Pixabay, Denys Vitali)

The USB Promoter Group 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.

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.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.