Get the Low Down on USB
Device manufacturers are constantly releasing new products every year. With each new product comes new specifications, and that can be a confusing mess. One such example is USB 3.0. What does it mean and how does it relate in comparison to USB 3.1 and USB 3.2? What then does Gen1 and Gen2 mean? Let us help you clear up the confusion.
The Evolution of USB
|USB 1.0||Its theoretical transmission speed is 1.5Mbps, and was developed to replace older port types for enhanced convenience; therefore, transmission speed is not its key focus. As USB became more popular USB 1.1 emerged, and the transfer speed was greatly increased to 12Mbps.|
|USB 2.0||Its theoretical transmission speed is 480Mbps, however actual transmission speeds will vary depending on device and other factors. Its scope of application is very wide, with compatibility with Type-A to a variety of Type-B connectors, thus encompassing all early USB devices such as older PCs with Type A, printers with Type B, digital translators with Mini-A , older phones with Mini-B and Micro-B , etc.
|USB 3.0||USB 3.0, AKA called SuperSpeed, looks different in appearance than USB 2.0 as USB 2.0 connectors are white while USB 3.0 connectors are mostly blue. USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0. The theoretical transmission speed of USB 3.0 is 5Gbps. Actual transmission speeds will vary by device and other factors. Based on lab test results, USB 3.0 is up to 3-5 times faster than that of USB 2.0. Devices supported are similar with older interfaces, for example newer PCs with Type-A or an external hard disk with Micro-B, etc.
|USB 3.1 Gen2||The theoretical transmission speed has doubled to 10 Gbps with max. power of 100 W. Type-C connectors are now standard and are not compatible with original Type-A / Type-B connectors.
As per a 2015 USB-IF announcement, USB 3.1 was rebranded as USB 3.1 Gen 2, with speed of 10Gbps, while the original USB 3.0 rebranded as USB 3.1 Gen 1.
|USB 3.1 Gen1||Formerly USB 3.0. It was changed to USB 3.1 Gen 1 from USB 3.0 in response to new specifications.|
|USB 3.2||In 2017 USB-IF announced USB 3.2, which increases transmission speed from 10Gbps to 20Gbps. The USB 3.2 specification enables 20Gbps data-transfer rates because it allows for up to two lanes of 10Gbps. And at the end of February 2019, USB-IF announced that the new USB 3.2 specification will absorb USB 3.0 and 3.1 specifications, with USB 3.2 now denoting three different speed tiers. USB 3.2 Gen 1 will be marketed as 'SuperSpeed USB' and indicates transfer speeds of 5Gbps, while USB 3.2 Gen 2 will be marketed as 'SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps'. The third 3.2 category is USB Gen 2 x2 and will be marketed as 'SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps'.|
USB Generation Comparison Chart