USB standards have been going through a considerable evolution. We have been using multiple variants in the past like micro USB, USB A, USB Type-C, etc. Micro-USB was one of the few popular standards in USB on mobile devices just a couple of years ago. All that has now evolved for a massive makeover and several other options are being thrown at you. Now, we have access to new standards like USB 3.2 which is the latest standard and has hiked the confusion further ahead for consumers. We will explain the differentiation (USB 3.1 vs USB 3.2) between the original specifications and the existing standards.
The New Nomenclature for USB Connectivity: USB 3.1 vs USB 3.2
Recently, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) changed the world of USB to make it reasonable enough. And in doing so, they have ended up surprising and confusing the users like us all the more.
The announcements were made at the Mobile World Congress in March, and everything has now been switched to USB 3.2. Everything in the world of USB will now be named USB 3.2. USB 3.2 will now have three versions –
- USB 3.2 Gen 1 – This is what we have been calling USB 3.0 in the past. This version has now become almost a regular standard offering in USB and offers you speeds of up to 5 Gb per second.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 – This is what was referred to as USB 3.1 so far. This standard can offer you transfer speeds up to 10 Gb per second.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – This is the standard that was initially referred to as USB 3.2. The standard has been designed to provide you access to transfer speeds of up to 20 GB per second.
Broadly differentiated, here is how they differ from one another –
|Original Standard||The Speeds offered||Old Name||New name|
|USB 3.0||5 Gb peer second||USB 3.1 Gen 1||USB 3.2 Gen 1|
|USB 3.1||10 Gb per second||USB 3.1 Gen 2||USB 3.2 Gen 2|
|USB 3.2||20 Gb per second||NA||USB 3.2 Gen 2×2|
What is USB 3.1?
USB 3.1, now officially renamed to USB 3.2 Gen 1 in itself has two versions – USB 3.1 Gen 1, which is called SuperSpeed+ USB and USB 3.1 Gen 2 which is referred to as SuperSpeed++ USB 10 Gbps. All these are backward compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 standards.
In essence, the USB 3.1 does not differentiate between the type of the connectors like USB Type C. If you are a hardware manufacturer, there should be no difference between USB 3.1 Gen 1 and the older USB 3.0. These work with the same type of connectors, offer the same transfer speeds of 5 Gb per second and deliver a similar power. The USB 3.1 Generation 2, however, adds up more speed at 10 Gb per second.
The USB type c connector is an independent concept from the USB 3.1 standards. The USB 3.1 standard is only about the transfer speeds and does not take into account the connection type. USB Type C has been one of the popular options on mobile phones and laptops. It features reversible connectivity, thus making it compatible for use on either the host side or device side. The connector supports additional pins and serial protocols and is future proof compatibility with the forthcoming products.
The USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 – An overview
As we have already explained in the above chart, the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 stands for the new USB 3.2. All the standards now stand renamed to USB 3.2. The USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 are gone. The old USB 3.1 will soon be USB 3.2 Gen 2. The next version USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 will be offering you additional transfer speeds when compared to the previous one.
Once again, this will have no relation with the type of connector being used. Whether you are using USB type A, micro USB or even USB Type C – you will end up getting a USB 3.2 specification or standard of some nature. However, technically speaking – the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 is designed to work with only USB Type C connectivity. This is because of the transfer speeds of 20 Gb per second which may not be supported on the older generations of the USB 3.0 or 3.1 host controllers.
What does that Hold for you?
The new nomenclature can indeed get quite confusing. You will not be able to differentiate correctly between the different USB 3.2 standards. A manufacturer can provide you an older USB 3.0 connectivity option over a USB Type A connector and market it as a USB 3.2 port.
In any case, if you are looking for the exact differentiation between the two standards of USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, it would be sufficient to understand that the USB 3.1 (now USB 3.2 Gen 1) will support speeds up to 10 Gb per second, and the new USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (previously, only USB 3.2) standard will support transfer speeds of up to 20 Gb per second.
One huge difference would be that USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 will support only USB Type C connectors. The standard makes use of two 10 Gbps channels to transfer 20 GB per second transfer rate. This type of connectivity will be possible with the USB Type C connector. However, that should not mean all USB Type C cables or connectors will support the high transfer speeds of 20 Gb per second. It would be necessary to opt for a cable that has been certified as 10Gb/s SuperSpeed+ or for something similar for accessing the requisite speeds.
The Concluding Thoughts
That was a brief description of the differences between the USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. Except for a little difference between the two standards, most of the elements almost remain similar, except for the change or improvements in the transfer rates offered by each of these two.
However, the new naming system can be a little confusing. For instance, if you are looking for a transfer speed of 10 Gb per second and a standard USB connectivity, it is USB 3.2 Gen 2 that you need to look for and not USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.
If you want to share any information on the differences between USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, in addition to what we have discussed here, feel free to chip in with your information. You may also share your experiences if any with either of these standards.