USB 3.2 Doubles Data Speeds: 20 Gbps Using Multi-Lane Operation

USB 3.2 Doubles Data Speeds: 20 Gbps Using Multi-Lane Operation

The USB-IF and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group have announced USB 3.2, which will be fully unveiled at USB Developer Days 2017 in September. USB 3.2 brings support for multi-lane USB operation, in order to provide USB data transfer speeds of up to 20 Gbps (2.5 GB/s) over a USB Type-C cable.

It comes as no surprise that USB 3.2 is adding multi-lane operation, as USB Type-C already added the ability to pair the SuperSpeed USB lanes together in order to send other data protocols over the USB Type-C interface with USB Alternate Mode. Using those techniques for regular USB data transfers was a clear step forward to take. That being said, it is a bit surprising to see that USB 3.2 is limited to using only two of the four SuperSpeed USB lanes available in the USB Type-C connector, and we may still see further improvements in the future to enable the usage of the remaining lanes.

The USB 3.2 update brings no substantial changes to the physical data layer or encoding techniques used for SuperSpeed USB, but rather is primarily an update to the hub specification to allow for the lane pairing needed for multi-lane USB operation. Keeping the physical data layer and encoding techniques consistent ensure full backward compatibility with past USB versions for USB 3.2 devices, which is always a key concern for the USB-IF and the USB 3.0 Promoter Group.

With USB 3.0 having launched in 2008 (and USB 3.1 in 2013), some people were starting to look towards USB 4.0, and while it can be sure that USB-IF is working on next generation improvements to the USB specification, USB 3.2 should help placate those that need faster transfer speeds for the moment.

Do you use USB 3.1’s full 10 Gbps transfer speeds? What do you think USB 4.0 will bring? Let us know in the comments below!

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