USB 3.2 Promises "Double Speed" With Same Cable


USB 3.1, the existing Type-C format, tops out at 10Gbps. Some USB-connected SSD drives can saturate a USB 3.1 cable, so there may be some benefit for USB 3.2 there. That's what the USB-IF is promising for its newly announced USB 3.2 specification.

"When we introduced USB Type-C to the market, we meant to assure that USB Type-C cables and connectors certified for SuperSpeed USB or SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps would, as produced, support higher performance USB as newer generations of USB 3.0 were developed", USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman Brad Saunders said in a prepared statement.

As mentioned, the new standard works with USB-C, and we don't blame you're finding all these different terms confusing.

The USB Type-C cables were created to support multi-lane operation but older standards couldn't take full advantage of it. USB 3.2 is designed as multi-lane solutions to offer two different approaches: either two lanes of 5 Gbps or two lanes of 10 Gbps. However, all of your devices (for example, a notebook and an external SSD) will have to comply with the USB 3.2 spec for you to realize those speed gains.

The only small inconvenience is that to use these new speeds you'll need brand new devices at each end of the cable.

In the USB 3.1 specification, cables were created to use a single lane of either 5Gbps or 10Gbps for data transfer.

Note, too, that this update applies only to USB-C, which is essentially a connector type.

So your existing USB-C cable should be capable of allowing USB 3.2 data transfer speeds once hardware starts appearing. In many implementations, this connector, or port, is also used to deliver Thunderbolt 3 capabilities.

For a reference, USB 3.1 specification, released in 2013, supports a maximum bandwidth of 10Gbps.

Put simply, then, USB 3.2 refers to how data is sent across cables, while USB-C technology is a physical specification that dictates the appearance of plugs and wires.

We should expect the formal release of the USB 3.2 specification in time for the USB Developer Days North America event in September. If the correct table is being used, it will offer the promised data transfer speed.