Intel has revealed the new USB4 specification in conjunction with the USB Promoter Group. The new USB standard is based on open license Thunderbolt 3 technology, meaning royalty-free tech that third parties can use without any charges.

USB4 will support data transfer rates of up to 40 Gb/s, double the speed of the current USB 3.2 standard. It’ll be capable of large scale data transfer, power delivery, and for use with display interfaces such as monitors.

Intel has said it’s aiming for USB4 to become available at some point in mid-2019. USB4 will use the same reversible USB Type-C connectors and will be fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 3. Historically, Thunderbolt connections have primarily been found on Apple products and relied on a proprietary connection, but Thunderbolt 3 will be rolled into USB4 as standard, funneled into a USB Type-C connector.

“The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution,” said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group chairman. “The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this experience by optimizing the blend of data and display over a single connection and enabling the further doubling of performance.”

Intel has confirmed it’s upcoming Ice Lake processors will be the first CPUs to integrate Thunderbolt 3 support out of the gate. USB4 will be capable of powering a pair of 4K HDR displays with 60Hz refresh rates, or a single 5K display.

“Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today’s simplest and most versatile port available to everyone,” said Jason Ziller, general manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel. “By collaborating with the USB Promoter Group, we’re opening the doors for innovation across a wide range of devices and increasing compatibility to deliver better experiences to consumers.”

I’m a big fan of convenience and the quicker we can get to a standardised system, the better. USB-C has proven great for all of the devices I’ve got that use it. Using the same cable to charge my phone and my Switch is a bit of a godsend. It sure would be nice if just about everything could use this standard so we don’t need dozens of different types of cable lying around.

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