What is USB4? Differences from Thunderbolt 4, explained by older USB versions

Getty Images | Oric Lawson

USB has come a long way since the days of 12Mbps in the ’90s. It has said goodbye to USB-B and is moving away slightly from USB-A in favor of the slim, reversible USB-C connector. Data transfer rates have increased so dramatically that we can run powerful setups with high-resolution screens, fast external storage, and many other devices from the USB Implementers Forum’s latest open standard, USB4.

USB4 unifies the USB and Intel Thunderbolt protocols for the first time, expanding USB capabilities while dividing the technology into different performance classes. The addition of features such as dynamic bandwidth allocation ensures that USB4 is by far the most advanced USB generation. Although there are computers, terminals, and cables that support USB4, we haven’t seen it yet everything The protocol can do, such as running an unbranded Intel eGPU.

With all that said, we thought it would be a great time to highlight the latest and greatest generation of USB. We’ve refreshed a handy all things USB4, and broken down the various key aspects of the spec, from how it differs from other specs to protocol tunneling, Alt mode, and power delivery.

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