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The new USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 supports a 20Gbps data transfer rate, all current USB 3.1 specs to fall under 3.2

By Ng Chong Seng - on 27 Feb 2019, 9:54am

The new USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 supports a 20Gbps data transfer rate, all current USB 3.1 specs to fall under 3.2

We've come a long way from USB 3.0.

At MWC 2019, the USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) has detailed the specs of the new USB 3.2 spec. Now, it’s no surprise that USB 3.2 is going to be a thing because the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has been talking about it since 2017; and frankly, what’s really new in USB 3.2 isn’t that hard to understand. However, what most of us didn’t foresee is how it messes up with the existing USB 3.1 naming and marketing terms. In short: the USB 3.2 spec has absorbed all prior 3.x specs.

I’m going to spare you the headache and multiple clicks and try to summarize what’s at stake here:

  • The newest USB 3.2 spec is really about USB 3.2 2x2, a.k.a. USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. The x2 means that it’s a dual-line transfer (up to 2 x 10Gbps data transfer rate depending on the host) - so the top speed for this spec is 20Gbps. Because of the multi-lane requirement, this can only be done over a USB-C connection. Marketing-wise, you may see a logo that says SuperSpeed++ USB 20Gbps, but to avoid confusion to consumers, USB-IF prefers manufacturers to call it SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps.

  • So if there’s a x2, there’s got be a x1, right? Yes, USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 - or simply, USB 3.2 Gen 2 - supports a single-lane transfer rate of up to 10Gbps. It’s basically a rebrand of the current USB 3.1 Gen 2. Marketing-wise, you’ll see a logo that says SuperSpeed+ USB 10Gbps or simply words that read SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps.

  • Like USB 3.1 Gen 2, the current USB 3.1 Gen 1 (which not so long ago was called USB 3.0) is now called USB 3.2 Gen 1. It continues to support a data signaling rate of 5Gbps over a single lane. The marketing term for this is SuperSpeed USB.

  • Finally, there’s supposedly a USB 3.2 Gen 1x2, which supports up to 10Gbps over two lanes. It’s unclear from the guidelines if this is still happening. I don’t think so because, you know, there’s already the aforementioned USB 3.2 Gen 2. (I can’t believe I’m typing this.)

Anyway, here’s a table to sum up the mess:

(Click for larger image.)

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