Differences and advantages of USB 3 vs USB4 – The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has just announced a lot of information about the latest USB iteration called USB4 (no spaces between USB and 4), which was announced in March this year. From the looks of it, the next version of the ubiquitous connector has a lot to offer both in terms of speed and efficiency.
The significant enhancements to USB 3 spell great news for creative professionals and everyday users alike. Want to know what are the main differences between USB4 and USB 3 (or 3.2, or 3.1)? That’s exactly what this brief section is about. So read on as I compare USB4 to the previous USB standard at USB4 vs USB 3.
USB4 Vs USB 3: What Makes USB4 Better
In this article, I will take a brief look at all the new USB4 features that make it worth an upgrade over its predecessors, as well as compare the advantages of USB4 over USB 3 and USB 3.1. We’ll talk about speed improvements, Thunderbolt compatibility, data splitting, price, and more. With that said, let’s take a look at what advantages USB4 brings.
1. Change Port
Now if you’ve been paying attention to the development of USB4, then you already know that the new USB4 standard will take advantage of the smaller and reversible USB-C port than the standard USB-A port. I think this is a very good development as using a USB-C port will bring a future where all our devices use universal ports closer.
What sets USB4 apart from its predecessor USB 3 (or 3.2, or 3.1 gen2v2) is the ability to provide transfer rates of up to 40 gigabits per second. The speed of the latest USB version 3.2 is double the maximum of 20 Gbps. Additionally, the latest iteration of USB is 8 times faster than the original USB 3 standard. However, while USB4 is designed to provide speeds up to 40 Gbps, not all USB devices will be able to support it.
USB Promoter Group CEO Brad Saunders has stated that the latest version of the connector will offer three speeds: 10 Gbps, 20 Gbps, and 40 Gbps. USB4 is expected on smartphones and lower-priced devices to support lower speeds, while high-end devices will be compatible at maximum speeds.
3. Thunderbolt 3 compatibility
This one’s almost as expected. For those unfamiliar with development, let me tell you that Intel previously announced that it will provide the Thunderbolt 3 protocol to USB Promoter Group for free. That means devices with a USB4 port will support Thunderbolt 3 equipped devices. This is very good news because no previous USB standard supported Thunderbolt 3.
USB4 compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 will benefit everyone greatly. Since USB4 is the free standard, companies don’t have to pay royalties to Intel to use it. Hopefully this will encourage more and more manufacturers to adopt Thunderbolt 3 compatibility.That means you might see eGPU support on AMD-powered laptops in the future. However, note that Thunderbolt compatibility is not a required part of the USB4 specification. So it’s entirely up to the manufacturer to support this feature.
4. Better Allocation of Resources
Another department where USB4 is much better than USB 3 is better allocation of resources in things like display and data separation. Unlike its predecessors, the latest version of USB perfectly matches the amount of resources available for sending video and data over the same connection. So, there is no chance of reducing the speed.
For example, say, you are dealing with two things like transferring data and handling video feeds simultaneously on your USB4 device which is equipped to provide speeds up to 40 Gbps. If the previous process required 15 Gbps to transfer data quickly and smoothly, USB4 will dynamically adjust to provide the remaining 25 Gbps for the latter, ensuring there is no lag. There was no such feature in the older USB standard so this change is eagerly awaited.
5. Compatibility with Old devices
Like its predecessors including USB 3, USB4 is also compatible with older devices. That means you can use it with USB 3 and USB 2 equipped devices and ports using a dongle. But it’s worth noting is that USB4 won’t be able to provide a maximum speed of 40 Gbps when you plug it into a USB 2 or USB 3 port. If you are using USB4 with older USB technology, the speed will automatically be at the lowest speed.
6. USB4 Host Supports USB PD
One of the biggest improvements that comes with USB4 is support for USB power delivery. While some USB-C devices support power delivery (USB PD), not all do. With USB4, every USB 4 device and host will adhere to good USB PD standards for charging your device. While the USB PD theoretically supports up to 100 watts of power delivery, it remains to be seen whether the new USB4 standard will match this or will it offer different power delivery options, such as speed.
7. Manufacturing Costs
Although USB4 is ready to be used to replace the old version, compatible devices won’t be coming anytime soon. Following the typical development cycle of a new product, devices that support USB4 will not be available until at least 12-18 months from now. The biggest obstacle to mass adoption appears to be additional costs. Since components are more expensive than USB 3.2, the latest version of USB will be significantly more expensive to manufacture. That means that the possibility of USB4 becoming the standard is when the price drops in the future.
USB4 vs USB 3: Steps in the Right Direction
Taking all the factors into account, USB4 seems a step in the right direction in more ways than one. Whether it’s increased speed or excellent bandwidth sharing between video and data, it has covered a large part of the base to be a great asset to not only creators and designers but also your everyday users.
And those are some of the differences and advantages between USB4 VS USB3, hopefully this article is useful and adds to your insight and let’s wait for the presence of USB4 on new devices in the future.