USB 4 Is Coming: What You Need to Know

USB 4 is coming, and it's gonna make your gadgets transfer content a whole lot faster. Announced by USB Promoter Group today (Mar. 4), the USB 4 architecture will increase speeds, include Thunderbolt 3 and work with multiple current standards.

So, from speed boosts to improved display connections, here's everything you need to know about USB 4.

What Is USB 4? What Difference Will It Make?

The biggest difference coming to everyone will be a 100% to 700% jump in USB (non-Thunderbolt) speeds, depending on your gear. If you're still rocking USB 3.0 ports, those top out at 5 GBps throughout (according to Tom's Hardware), which the 40GBps USB 4 will blaze past.

Inside of the announcement came news that USB 4 would be compatible with Thunderbolt 3 (as well as USB 3.2 and USB 2.0). Also Thunderbolt 3 will now be available to more companies to use — without the fees formerly attached to the speedy technology — so companies have one fewer excuse for why it's not in their products.

According to Paul Alcorn at Tom's Hardware, the integration of Thunderbolt 3 into USB 4 "enables the simultaneous transfer of both data and display protocols, meaning that you can daisy-chain 4K monitors and other Thunderbolt 3 devices, like external storage or GPU enclosures, together into one cable that connects to your PC."

When will USB 4 release?

Today's announcement didn't include the USB 4 specification, which a press release from the USB Promoters state is currently in the "final stages of review" by more than 50 companies. The release pegs the specification "to be published around the middle of 2019."

That release will also coincide with an updated version of the USB Type-C Specification, made for compatibility with USB 4. We don't know what male and female USB 4 ports will look like at this stage, and hope to learn more at the mid-2019 announcement.

This all suggests we won't see actual USB 4 ports this year, with CES 2020 possibly being the port's big debut.