USB is Changing Naming Conventions… Again

In a previous blog we covered a topic that warranted some much-needed translation. Namely: the various names and symbols used by the USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) to denote the various types of USB technology available on the market today. 

Over a decade ago, the USB-IF came forward with the introduction of new nomenclature to represent various USB ports that had transfer speeds 5Gbps and higher. Unfortunately, instead of making things clearer for consumers who used USB connections daily, they introduced more confusion.

Though one set styled USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1, etc. was used to indicate generation versions and speeds, these used in conjunction with consumer-facing “SuperSpeed” language left both tech companies and consumers consulting charts to determine which iteration of the widespread connector they were currently using.  

After some time, a few SuperSpeed iterations had become available, and distinguishing these while indicating data transfer speeds became a big challenge for which the USB-IF faced some criticism from consumer tech users and professionals alike. For instance, the introduction of USB4 2.0 earlier this year meant that USB-C ports would be around in USB4 Version 2.0, Version 1.0, USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, USB 3.2 Gen 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1, or USB 2.0. Confused yet? 

The intention of “SuperSpeed” language was to distill something like USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 into SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps, making it clear the data transfer speeds and performance capabilities of a particular USB port or product. 

The New Marketing Language

Thankfully, the new marketing language developed by the USB-IF to address the confusion in naming conventions seems to clear up some of the problems we’ve seen to date. Moving forward, the way each previous “SuperSpeed” connection will be referred to is as follows:

Old NameOld USB-IF NameNew NameSpeed (Gbps)
USB 3.2 Gen 1x1SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps
USB 5Gbps5
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1SuperSpeed USB 10GbpsUSB 10Gbps10
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2SuperSpeed USB 20GbpsUSB 20Gbps20
USB4 Gen 2x2
USB4 20GbpsUSB 20Gbps20
USB4 Gen 3x2USB4 40GbpsUSB 40Gbps40

In short, the recommendation from the USB-IF is that vendors begin labelling products simply with their transfer speed, rather than using the SuperSpeed designations. So, USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 simply becomes USB 20Gbps. 

The Upshot

Though this may derail the heavy emphasis put on USB4 naming in recent marketing language, the new nomenclature should help to alleviate some of the problems resulting in deep spec dives and frustration in the past.