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USB4 vs USB3 | Difference between USB4 and USB3 versions

This page compares USB4 vs USB3 versions and mentions difference between USB4 and USB3 versions.

The USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. USB supports peer to peer communication. In this type of interface, communication takes place between host and peripheral and not between two hosts (or peripherals). It mentions requirements for connection, communication and PS (power supply) between PCs and peripheral devices. There are various versions of USB which include v1.0, v2.0, V3.0, V3.1, V3.2 and V4.0. Each of these versions support different data transfer rates.

USB 3.0

• It is successor to USB 1.0 and USB 2.0
• It is released in Nov. 2008
• Transfer rate/speed: 480 Mbps (or approx. 5 Gbps)
• Power consumption: 100 mA
• Backward compatibility: USB 1.x
• Smart charging not available
• Bidirectional data transfer not supported
• It is known as USB 3.1 Gen1.
• It is also known by SuperSpeed USB.

USB 3.1

• Speed: 5 Gbps (USB Gen1, Superspeed) , 10 Gbps (USB Gen2, Superspeed+)
• It is released in 2013
• USB 3.1 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 but requires appropriate adapters.
• Power consumption: 5 A
• There are two versions i.e. USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 3.1 Gen2.
• USB 3.1 Gen2 can transfer data at upto 10 Gbps over USB-type-A and USB-C connectors

USB 3.2

• Speed: 5 Gbps (Gen1), 10 Gbps (Gen2), 20 Gbps (Gen 2x2)
• It is released in 2017.
• USB 3.2 is backwards compatible with previous versions for working operation.
• Power output:
• There are different versions i.e. USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2.
• It is also known by SuperSpeed USB .
• 24 pin USB Type-C connector is used.

Thunderbolt 3 interface

Thunderbolt interface
Figure-1: Thunderbolt interface

Following are the features of Thunderbolt 3 interface type:
• Thunderbolt 3 is introduced in the year 2015.
• It uses USB-C connector.
• Thunderbolt 3 supports bit rate of 40 Gbps.
• It uses protocol 4 x PCI express 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI-2 and USB 3.1 Gen-2.


USB4 cable
Figure-2: USB4 cable

• Maximum speed: 40 Gbps, called SuperSpeed+
• It is released in August 2019 which is a major update to existing USB 3.2 2x2 (USB-C) and USB 2.0 architectures.
• USB 4 is backwards compatible with previous versions USB 3.2, USB 2.0, Thunderbolt 3.
• Type-C connector is used similar to Thunderbolt
• Dynamic allocation of bandwidth to multiple applications running simultaneously for example file transfer and video.
• It supports three speed levels viz. 10Gbps, 20Gbps and 40Gbps.
• USB4 will support various display protocols
• USB4 supports power delivery (PD). Hence it allows higher wattages as well as better management of power.
• Refer advantages and disadvantages of USB4 interface.

Tabular difference between USB4 and USB3.2 versions

Following table summarizes difference between USB4 and USB3.2 versions.

Features USB 4 USB 3.2
Versions One sigle version Gen 1x1, Gen 1x2, Gen 2x1, Gen2x2
Transfer rate Max. 40 Gbps (Dynamic) 5Gbps, 10Gbps, 20Gbps
Power output USB PD supported by USB4 can theoretically provide up to 100 watts. Upto 100W
Cable length Two-lane operation using existing USB Type-C cables 20 Gbps transfer speed over 1 metre cables or
or 8 Gbps over 5 metre cables

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