Understanding 
USB-C
and USB 
Specifications

USB has been evolving over the years and the complications have only been rising.

Let C2G make the history & path forward of USB easy for you.

Since 1996, USB signal standards have progressed as technology demands increase. Each release is an improvement of its predecessor — an attempt to enhance some previous features. The most recent release from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) is the USB 4 signal standard. We'll take you through the features of USB and what they mean to you.


USB Comparison

3.0 3.1 USB 3.2

New Name Previous Name USB Performance Specification Data Transfer Speed Year Introduced
USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB 3.0
USB 3.1 Gen 1
SuperSpeed 5 Gbps 2008-2013
USB 3.2 Gen 2

USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
USB 3.1
USB 3.1 Gen 2
USB 3.2
SuperSpeed+
SuperSpeed 10 Gbps
SuperSpeed 20 Gbps
10 Gbps

20 Gbps
2013

2017
USB4 USB 4 Gen 2x2
USB 4 20 Gbps
USB 4 Gen 3x2
USB 4 40 Gbps
20 Gbps

40 Gbps
2019

2019*
*Products have not been introduced to the market yet.

What is USB?

USB is a standard that was developed in the mid-1990s that defines cables, connectors, and communication protocols. This technology is designed to allow a connection, communication and power supply for peripheral devices and computers. USB ports are dynamic in the number of devices that are supported. In theory, a single USB port can support up to 127 devices using USB hubs. USB devices can range from human interface (keyboard, mouse, etc.) to storage (thumb drives, external hard drives, etc.)


What is USB C?

The USB C connector is a reversible/symmetrical connector, so no more guessing on how to plug it in. With increased durability of up to 10,000 cycles it delivers a longer life for the number of times it has the capability to be plugged in.


What is the Difference Between USB C and USB 3.2? (USB C vs USB 3.1)

The USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 standards apply to the USB specification, while the USB C standard defines only the physical connector.


The Evolution of USB Standards

  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 (SuperSpeed) (5Gbps)

    The USB 3.2 Gen 1 specification made further improvements to USB technology. Improvements consisted of an increase of bandwidth to a maximum of 5Gbps, support for full duplex communication and an increase of the amount of power available to connected devices. This specification retained a backwards compatibility that allows USB 3.0 to support USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 devices.

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 (SuperSpeed+) (10Gbps)

    The USB 3.2 Gen 2 specification is similar to the USB 3.2 Gen 1, only that it doubles the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 1.

  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps)

    The USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 specification allows for up to two lanes of 10Gbps, achieving the maximum throughput of 20 Gbps. A 3.2 Gen 2x2 device needs to be connected in order to achieve the maximum 20 Gbps speed. So, connecting to USB 3.2 Gen 1 or Gen 2 will not reach the 20 Gbps but only the maximum speed of that previous USB generation.

  • USB4

    The USB 4 specification allows for faster transfer speeds, improved management of video bandwidth, and compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 being possible. This specification uses two-lane cables to operate at up to 40 Gbps, the same speed as Thunderbolt 3. USB 4 also supports DisplayPort Alt mode 2.0, which can support up to 8K resolution at 60 Hz with HDR10 color. Some USB 4 connectivity will also work with Thunderbolt 3 devices.


USB C Features

Smaller Size

The Type C connector has been enhanced to provide a lot more improvements from its previous generations. These include more conductors, higher voltage ratings, higher current ratings and greater signal bandwidths, all with a reduced size of the USB receptacles. USB Type C is 60% smaller than a USB A connector.


Reversible Connectors

The symmetrical design upgrade allows for easier and faster insertion on the first try, whether right-side up or up-side down, compared to its previous generations.


Durability

Because of its symmetrical design, it reduces significantly the amount of damages caused to the connectors by one-way insertions, as seen in a lot of cases for USB A. USB Type C connectors have been tested up to 10,000 insertions, which is 6 times more durable than any USB A connector.

The Generations of USB 3.2

USB 3.2 Type C Gen 1 is what the first generation of devices being released will have. It's similar to 3.0 SuperSpeed with the added bonuses of enhanced power delivery up to 100W, native AV support, supports video displays up to 4K, backwards compatible and has a data transfer rate of 5Gbps. SuperSpeed & Enhanced SuperSpeed supports Gen 1 Speed.

USB 3.2 Type C Gen 2 has enhanced power delivery with 100W, native AV support, supports video displays up to 4K, backwards compatible, and has a data transfer rate of 10Gbps. SuperSpeed Plus & Enhanced SuperSpeed supports Gen 2 Speed.


USB 3.0 vs 3.2 (USB 3.0 vs 3.1)

USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0)
Originally known as USB 3.0, and previously renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. It's the original USB 3.0 specification, and it can transfer data at up to 5Gbps.

USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB 3.1)
Previously known as USB 3.1, and then later as USB 3.1 Gen 2. It offers speeds at up to 10Gbps.

USB 3.2 Gen 2x2
Formally known as USB 3.2. It offers speeds at up to 20Gbps (by using two lanes of 10Gbps at once).


USB 3.2 Features

Data Transfer

USB 3.2 has an impressive data transfer rates of up to 10 Gbit/s, allowing for rapid file transfer and sharing. It is twice the data rate of USB 3.0 and 20 times the rate of USB 2.0.

How It Makes Your Life Faster
With USB 3.2, you can transfer a 4K movie within 16 seconds, while it takes about 32 seconds for a USB 3.0 and over 5 minutes for a USB 2.0.

Data transfer rates up to 10GBIT/S
2X the data rate of USB 3.0
20X the data rate of USB 2.0

Transfer a 4K movie

USB 3.2
16 Seconds
USB 3.0
32 Seconds
Over 5 Minutes USB 2.0

Power Delivery

USB 3.2 can deliver up to 20 volts, 5 amps and 100 watts for device power and charging - a 20 times increase over USB 3.0 and 40 times increase over USB 2.0.

How It Makes Your Life Easier
You can use a single power supply to power a monitor and charge a laptop through a USB 3.1 cable.

USB Power Delivery

20 VOLTS, 5 AMPS, AND 100 WATTS
for device power & charging

Delivers power increase of
20X USB 3.0 &
40X USB 2.0

Use a single power supply to power a monitor and CHARGE A LAPTOP through a USB 3.1 USB C CABLE

Audio/Video

USB 3.2 includes support of audio/video signals for USB devices, making connecting a TV or monitor easier than ever. It provides DisplayPort video to a connected monitor and a 4-channel audio including microphone support.

USB Audio/Video Support

Audio/Video is a brand NEW FEATURE for USB 3.1

Provides DISPLAYPORT VIDEO
to a connected monitor

4-CHANNEL AUDIO
including microphone support

Easily aAdapts to…

HDMI, VGA, DVI

USB 3.2 Length Limitations and Features

1m (3.3 feet) — USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB 3.1 Gen 2):

1m (3.3 feet)
  •  Data transfer rates of 10Gbps
  •  Up to 100W power output
  •  Supports up to 4K resolution video output
  •  Backwards compatible with existing USB 3.0 and USB 2.0

3m (9.8 feet) — USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Gen 1):

3m (9.8 feet)
  •  Data transfer rates of 5Gbps
  •  Up to 100W power output
  •  Supports up to 4K resolution video output
  •  Backwards compatible with existing USB 3.0 and USB 2.0

4m (13 feet) — USB 2.0:

4m (13 feet)
  •  Data transfer rates of 480Mbps
  •  Up to 15W power output
  •  Backwards compatible with USB 1.1

USB Type-C Whitepaper

For more advanced info on USB C, download this in-depth whitepaper The Ultimate Guide to the Next Generation of AV Device Connectivity: USB Type-C for the AV Professional.

What you will learn from this whitepaper:

  • What is USB Type-C
  • USB Type-C as a Power Source
  • Alternate Mode in USB C
  • EMCA's, Passive and Active Cables
  • Getting Video Out of a Device over USB Type-C
  • Getting Video Into a Device over a USB Dock
Download Whitepaper >
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