USB 3.2 Is Here To Replace USB 3.1, And It's Confusing


At the 2019 Mobile World Congress, the USB Implementers Forum or USB-IF, who is in charge of the naming scheme of USB and works on its development, announced USB 3.2.

It succeeds — or rather, replaces — the previous brandings, similar to when USB 3.0 became rebranded as USB 3.1 Gen 1.

No More USB 3.0, USB 3.1

As Ars Technica explains, the history of USB has been a confusing one. When USB 3.0 was still the new standard, it wasn't as complicated as it is now in which it was the fastest connection at the time, and its predecessors USB 2 and USB 1.1 were the slower ones.

USB 3.0 delivered a rate of 5 GB/s, which was named "SuperSpeed USB." Meanwhile, USB 2's 480 Mb/s and USB 1.1's 12 Mb/s were branded as "High Speed" and "Full Speed," respectively.

Now when USB 3.1 rolled out, USB 3.0 and its 5 GB/s rate was renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. Connections that ran 10 GB/s were then known as USB 3.1 Gen 2 and was marketed as "SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps."

A similar thing is happening again with USB 3.2, and it's somehow doing a worse job at it than USB 3.1. Now USB 3.2 is "USB 3.2 Gen 2x2" or "SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps," USB 3.1 is now "USB 3.2 Gen 2" or "SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps," and USB 3.0 is now "USB 3.2 Gen 1" or "SuperSpeed USB."

Here's a breakdown just to set things straight:

USB 3.2

• Technical Name: USB 3.2 Gen 2x2

• Marketing Name: SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps

USB 3.1

• Technical Name: USB 3.2 Gen 2 (previously known as USB 3.1 Gen 2)

• Marketing Name: SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps

USB 3.0

• Technical Name: USB 3.2 Gen 1 (previously known as USB 3.1 Gen 1 and simply USB 3.0)

• Marketing Name: SuperSpeed USB

Confusing Consumers

To make things worse, this complicated naming scheme could affect consumers down the line. For instance, device makers are technically correct if they say their products have "USB 3.2" support when, in fact, it's only "USB 3.2 Gen 1" with a rate of 5 Gb/s. In other words, some buyers might be looking for the new standard "USB 3.2 Gen 2x2" but get "USB 3.0" under the guise of the "USB 3.2" branding.

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