USB 3.2 to Double Performance on PCs

Posted on February 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware with 17 Comments

The USB Implementers Forum revealed this week that its nearly two-year-old specification for USB 3.2 will become a reality in 2019, doubling the performance of USB on new PCs this coming year. The bad news? This group of idiots is making USB even more complicated than before, too.

As you may know, USB 3 today is split into two different connection types, the classic “full-sized” USB 3.x Type-A port and the newer, smaller, and reversible USB Type-C, or USB-C (for “compact”), port. From a data transfer perspective, USB 3.0 originally offered 5 Gbps data transfer speeds over the Type-A port only, while USB 3.1 provides 10 Gbps of speed.

With USB 3.2, that performance will double to 20 Gbps, though, of course, your PC will need new hardware to achieve those speeds. And this performance is still half that of Thunderbolt 3, which is often utilized in at least some USB-C ports on modern PCs.

That’s all good. But the USB Implementers Forum makes Microsoft look like marketing geniuses when it comes to naming things. As part of the transition to USB 3.2, it is rebranding USB with new technical and marketing names, which range from unreasonable to ridiculous.

USB 3.2 will be called USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 internally, and USB 3.1 is being renamed, much less illogically, to USB 3.2 Gen 2. From a marketing perspective, you’ll see the new port described as “SuperSpeed USB 20Gbp” on new PCs, while USB 3.1 ports will be called “SuperSpeed USB 10Gbp.”

I guess USB 3.2 was just too simple and obvious.

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Comments (17)

17 responses to “USB 3.2 to Double Performance on PCs”

  1. codymesh

    this isn't the first time they've "updated" the name of their older ports. When they launched USB 3.1, they re-named the old USB 3.0 SuperSpeed to USB 3.1 Gen 1, with the new 10gbps standard being called USB 3.1 Gen 2. Clearly, that wasn't enough because now they're renaming that to USB 3.2 Gen 2 (WTF). It was massively stupid back then and they're doing it again.

    Good lord. We dodged a bullet when the IEEE realized "802.11 ax" was stupid so they decided to call it Wi-Fi 6. Someone get them to work at USB...

    • locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to codymesh:

      I politely disagree with your remarks concerning the IEEE naming of the wireless networking specifications.

      Anyone who's familiar with IEEE nomenclature would have no qualms in following the progress of the 802.11 protocol naming spanning two decades, starting with 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac, 802.11ax.

      The new Wi-Fi n is an attempt to simplify the naming for the common folks, but it is totally lost on me and my fellow colleagues.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

        Actually, the IEEE did it right. And just in time before we started seeing more confusion over the 2-character hierarchy standards names as they got worse with the 802.11ba, 802.11bb, etc names.

        The standards still use the real IEEE name for the standard. The "friendly" name is just marketing in the same way that Wi-Fi is the friendly marketing name for IEEE 802.11

        So, we get:

        802.11 = Wi-Fi

        802.11n = Wi-Fi 4

        802.11ac = Wi-Fi 5

        802.11ax = Wi-Fi 6

        The techies among us can still use the standard name and there's a 1:1 correspondence between the standard name and the marketing name.

  2. Hoomgar

    Cool, they put a turbo on it.  LOL!  Faster is better.

  3. MikeGalos

    Actually, there are also still USB B connectors and USB Micro B connectors both in the USB spec and in the field. So that's 4 current connections (A, B, Micro B, C) and that adds to the confusion of USB 3 vs 3.1 vs 3.2 and USB C being treated as a spec for the protocol or the protocol plus some combination of optional add-on "Alternate Mode" protocols like HDMI and Thunderbolt and DisplayPort by both the press and various manufacturers.

    There are literally dozens of possible and incompatible USB implementations currently out there and that's not even counting the various speed capacities in each protocol version and connector option.

    The USB people need more than better marketing names, they need to actually produce products that ARE standardized and that are identifiable at a quick glance.

  4. bsd107

    Does this add to the disastrous USB-C/TB3 cable situation? Even Apple’s cables are an inconsistent mess of capabilities in terms of data rates and power handling capabilities.

  5. locust infested orchard inc

    My trusty keyboard with Cherry MX switches and my mouse both have PS/2 connectors, and thankfully my motherboard has the corresponding PS/2 ports.

    My laser printer is ethernet connected.

    Who needs USB anyway ?

  6. glenn8878

    Ridiculous and it doesn’t matter. A user will just try to buy the latest and greatest. Manufacturers will just sell the latest and greatest. The cost difference is miniscule. The confusion won’t last.

  7. aelaan

    The big problem is the naming, today we already have these speeds in variations that I just gotten used to. I think the whole USB-C issue started when they could not come up with a better name. My phone supports USB-c for charging.... Oh what about Micro-USB? No that is no good any more. And now another "upgrade" to try to drive greed back into the market. Peripherals are not even ready for USB-c today. I have not seen a mouse with a USB-c tail, because it does not need these speeds.

    And then there is Thunderbolt 3 and soon Thunderbolt 4 - next year for sure - and are they going to be rolled up in the naming convention? Right.... Babylon anyone?

  8. Sir_Timbit

    Ridiculous marketing designed to confuse consumers. But good to know my ten year old laptop automagically supports USB 3.2 Gen -1 !

  9. Stooks

    Reality is that USB-C is a joke. Nothing I have uses it. Nothing I have could even begin to use the speed. On my Macbook Pro I am forced to use a dongle for everything.

    The fastest SSD's, (Samsung EVO 970 Pro M.2) have a max speed of 3.5GB/2.5GB which is above the 1.25GB you get with USB-A 3.1 speed. That said 99.999% of USB SSD enclosures are SATA which top out at .6GB. Even if you could get a M.2 enclosure for the EVO 970 you would need the same internal drive to even begin to transfer at USB 3.1 speed. People often do not get the fact to really use those speeds both sides of the USB connection need to be at or above the same speed. And those quoted speeds are best case/sequential/Benchmark test speeds. Average speeds for the EVO 970 are just at or below 1GB.

    USB-C and USB-3.2 speeds are great. If you have some $5-10K M.2 SSD RAID storage tower and some really expensive 8K/4K video camera with a full USB-C connector then maybe you can use those speeds to download that video....maybe.

    The rest of the world is just fine with USB 3.0/3.1 using a USB-A connector and will be for another 5-10 years.

  10. biff

    How about specification.speed = 3.05, 3.10, 3.20

  11. locust infested orchard inc

    The marketing so-called gurus at the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) have utterly made a dog's dinner of the nomenclature for USB 3.x.

    Couldn't they have just left the original USB 3.0 [SuperSpeed USB (SS)] as was, rather than changing first to USB 3.1 Gen 1, and now to USB 3.2 Gen 1.

    In summary, the original USB 3.0 has now four names by which it is can be called: USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 1, and SuperSpeed USB. Absolutely ridiculous.

    Not satisfied which the complexity of their naming structure, the latest spec which should be named either USB 3.2, or even USB 3.2 Gen 3, the loony clowns at USB-IF made a decision to go along with an automotive terminology, by calling it USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. I'm like WTF ?!

    What an Earth has driven the USB-IF folk to conjure up such potentially confusing terms ? Any motoring folk would pause to ponder if the latest USB 3.2 has no longer the pedestrian speeds of its predecessors, but rather comes fully engaged with two-wheel drive with two wheels.

    Makes one wonder what the next iteration+1 of the spec will be – USB 3.4 Gen 4x4, more powerful than a Toyota Hilux ?!

  12. Jason Peter

    At least we know where Microsofts former branding team went to...

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