If you’re a bit mystified about the differences between USB and Thunderbolt, you won’t have to fret much longer. With the arrival of USB4 on devices—probably around a year from now—we’ll all start using the same standard: USB4 merges Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 to provide transfer speeds of up to 40Gb/s, matching the former’s transfer rate and doubling that of the latter.
First teased in March, the specifications for USB4 have now been formally announced (PDF) by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). Utilizing a USB Type-C connection, USB4 will be backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2 and USB 2.0—so you should be able to plug any USB Type-C device into a USB4 socket. USB4 will support both data and display protocols, and be capable of delivering power.
The news should make photographers and especially videographers happy: Devices packing Thunderbolt 3 ports are more elusive than those with USB 3 connections, and USB4 means everyone enjoying that blazing 40Gb/s speed.
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