Understanding USB Standards


To obtain a not-too-technical high-level review of the latest USB standards with details of what these standards want to solve.

Early Findings


  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 is the second generation USB version, coming from USB 3.2 Gen 2. And USB 3.0 is also known as USB 3.2 Gen 1.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 has twice the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 2 for data transfers, hence the reason for the '2x2' in its name.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and, USB 3.2 Gen 1 are marketed as SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps and, SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps, respectively; which is their respective transfer rates.
  • These newer versions of USB 3.2 devices are compatible with older devices (providing backward compatibility). However, if there are "two products with different USB capabilities[, it] will operate at the older's transfer speed".
  • USB 3.2 standards now make it possible for the use of two lanes rather than single lanes to transfer data faster, "without sacrificing cable length".
  • They are designed for increased performance, improved data encoding "and improved I/O power efficiency".
  • It is recommended that manufacturers of these three products (i.e. SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps and, SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps) adhere to the USB-IF Compliance Program by submitting their products to determine compliance and gain access to the USB-IF logo licensing program.


  • The USB Power Delivery can charge large devices such as laptops and tablets because its current design allows it to use up to 100 watts.

Proposed next steps:

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We recommend continuing our research to provide 1) an overview of the standards of the three latest USBs, namely, USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (marketed as SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (marketed as SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) and, USB 3.2 Gen 1 (marketed as SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps). We will provide a summary of the standards with a break-down of the THREE products, explaining what the standards are, what issues/concerns they solve, and how they solve them, and 2) we will also provide 2 - 3 insights into the standards for the USB 4.0 in 2020. For each insight we provide a 3 - 5 sentence description of what it is, highlighting the changes or expectations that experts are discussing for this version of the product. We will write the details in an easily digestible format that is not-too-technical.
We also suggest further research for additional insights into the USB 3.2 standards by providing an overview of what the USB-IF Logo License Agreement entails. We will provide details about the criteria to use the license, purpose of the license, guidelines to use it, compliance with the USB-IF Compliance Program, and penalties if companies are non-compliant.