USB 3.0 Naming Just Became A Big Mess

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Get ready to be confused, the new USB 3.0 standards were recently announced, and yes they allow for twice the speed, but they have the most confusing names which will for sure confuse consumers.

In the past USB was rather simple, there was USB 1, 2, 3. This is simple to understand, and you assume 2 is better than 1, and 3 is better than them all. Now USB 3.0 is getting a whole new name and three different versions.

This is USB pre 2019:

  • USB 1.1 (12Mbps)
  • USB 2.0 (480Mbps)
  • USB 3.0 (5Gbps)

USB in 2019:

  • USB 1.1 (12Mbps)
  • USB 2.0 (480Mbps)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps)

If you read that and you instantly become confused you're not alone. Now when a manufacturer lists their device is USB 3.2 comparable you have no way of knowing which version they mean. Not to mention devices which have already been announced which use USB 3.0 like the recently announced iPad Pro. That's technically a USB 3.2 port.

When it comes to buying cables, this is going to be another pain point for users. Not only do they have to find a USB 3.2 compatible cable but they have to make sure the generation is correct. If you want that 20Gbps throughput, you better make sure it's 2x2 compatible which means it has 2 Gen 2 cables in it.

Overall this seems like a very dumb decision by the group responsible for naming USB. I'm not sure why they couldn't keep the simple names with USB 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Or at least 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 that doesn't seem that complicated and it removes the messy words at the end.

So in the future when you're buying a new USB 3 compatible cable or device make sure you read that carefully, so you know the speed you're getting out of the device connection.

Also a quick end note, Thunderbolt still carries the faster data transfer of up to 40Gbps.

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