USB 3.2 at 20Gbps Coming Later This Year, Brings Confusing New Branding for USB 3.0 & USB 3.1

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), an independent technology standards group, has officially rung in the era of USB 3.2 at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

According to a new report from Tom’s Hardware, USB 3.2, which doubles the maximum speed of a USB connection to 20Gbps, is likely to start showing up in systems later this year, with USB-IF confirming at MWC that 3.2-capable controllers will be available later in 2019.

Although the new USB 3.2 specifications are meant to avoid confusion, it may actually make things more complicated for consumers and manufacturers.

USB 3.2 is set to absorb the USB 3.0/3.1 branding, reads the report. Basically, USB 3.1 Gen 1, which has up to 5Gbps speeds and was formerly known as USB 3.0, will become USB 3.2 Gen 1. It will have the marketing name of “SuperSpeed USB.”

Meanwhile, USB 3.1 Gen 2, which supports 10Gbps, becomes USB 3.2 Gen 2, or “SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps.” Finally, the upcoming new spec will be called USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, as it uses two high-speed 10Gbps lanes — only possible with USB Type-C. Its official marketing name is “SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps.”

Got it? Maybe USB-IF can clear things up.

“SuperSpeed Plus, Enhanced SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ are defined in the USB specifications,” it says in its USB 3.2 specification guidelines, “however, these terms are not intended to be used in product names, messaging, packaging or any other consumer-facing content.”

What this rebranding also means is that most future USB devices and ports will be called USB 3.2, making it important for manufacturers to identify their capabilities by using the marketing terms.

There’s one consolation: The new specifications are backwards-compatible, meaning that users will still be able to plug in an older USB device to a new USB 3.2 port. Still, the branding of it all is an absolute nightmare and is an additional headache computer and smartphone buyers don’t need.