Laptop Tips

What is USB 4

USB 4 is a Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard, released on September 2019. In the near future, most new laptops, computers, and devices will support USB 4.

In early September, the USB Promoter Group officially released the USB 4 specification, which also means that the popularization of the USB 4 has officially opened.

As early as March of this year, Intel announced the opening of the Thunderbolt protocol to the USB Promoter Group, which made the USB 4 significantly improved in transmission speed. At the same time, it means that the most powerful data port, Thunderbolt 3, will be directly integrated into USB 4. In the future, devices using Thunderbolt 3 will not need to obtain authorization from Intel or pay high licensing fees, which will promote the development of port technology. It is extremely important.

Three characteristics of the USB 4 protocol

1. the USB 4 specification will introduce two-lane channels.
2. the transmission bandwidth reaches the 40 Gbps standard of Thunderbolt 3.
3. Backward compatible with USB 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3.
Combining the above three features, USB 4 integrates the advanced technology of Thunderbolt 3, directly has the data transmission capacity of large bandwidth, and directly has display input/output function and charging function.


A full-featured USB 4 port is the most complete, smallest, and fastest physical port!
In addition, USB 4 has also been fully considered in terms of compatibility, directly compatible with USB 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, 2.0, and Thunderbolt 3, and the current standard USB data cable used on USB 4.

On the naming side, the USB Promoter Group will no longer use iterative naming schemes such as 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. USB 4 may always use the USB 4 naming scheme. At the same time, its physical form will only be TYPE-C. Therefore, in the future, the USB port of the electronic device and the related external expansion device will adopt the compact TYPE-C form, which will promote the development of laptops, tablets and other devices to be lighter and thinner.

Why is USB 4 worth looking forward to?

Thunderbolt is the lightning port we are familiar with. In 2011, Thunderbolt, which was jointly developed by Intel and Apple and code-named “Light Peak”, was officially announced. This is what we call the Thunderbolt port. Apple’s official website calls it the “lightning” port.

Since the Thunderbolt port combines the PCI-E and DisplayPort communication protocols, the Thunderbolt port is almost the only multi-function port that supports both high-speed data transmission and video/audio transmission before the full-featured TYPE-C comes out, that is, it has both USB and DP. Or HDMI/DVI/VGA function. And because its bandwidth reaches bidirectional 10Gbps (Thunderbolt 2 is bidirectional 20Gbps), it can be said to be a very advanced port extension technology.

Thunderbolt 3 VS USB 4

Previously, there were two main reasons why the Thunderbolt 3 port was difficult to popularize: cost and hardware.

In terms of cost, the use of the Thunderbolt 3 port requires Intel’s authorization, and its licensing fee is high.
On the hardware, the Thunderbolt 3 port needs to have an independent control chip, and the cost of the chip is not low.
Under the “obstruction” of these two factors, the popularity of the Thunderbolt 3 port is difficult.

At the beginning of the year, Intel opened an agreement to the USB Promoter Group to solve the cost problem first. Future ports using the Thunderbolt 3 protocol will be completely free. Since then, Intel has integrated the Thunderbolt 3 controller directly into the processor from the 10th generation Core Ice 10nm process processor, which solves the hardware problem. At the same time, with the help of the USB 4 specification, the Thunderbolt 3 port can be fully popularized, and the Thunderbolt 3 port can be accelerated to the consumer market.

David Tian

David is the editor @ MyFixGuide. He loves technology, especially good at laptops and mobile phones. In his free time, he loves to take apart the latest mobile phones and laptops.

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