USB 3.2 is going to make the current USB branding even worse

USB 3.2 is going to make the current USB branding even worse
USB Type-C cable and port.

Enlarge / USB Type-C cable and port. (credit: USB-IF)

USB 3.2, which doubles the maximum speed of a USB connection to 20Gb/s, is likely to materialize in systems later this year. In preparation for this, the USB-IF—the industry group that together develops the various USB specifications—has announced the branding and naming that the new revision is going to use, and… it’s awful.

USB 3.0 was straightforward enough. A USB 3.0 connection ran at 5Gb/s, and slower connections were USB 2 or even USB 1.1. The new 5Gb/s data rate was branded “SuperSpeed USB,” following USB 2’s 480Mb/s “High Speed” and USB 1.1’s 12Mb/s “Full Speed.”

But then USB 3.1 came along and muddied the waters. Its big new feature was doubling the data rate to 10Gb/s. The logical thing would have been to identify existing 5Gb/s devices as “USB 3.0” and new 10Gb/s devices as “USB 3.1.” But that’s not what the USB-IF did. For reasons that remain hard to understand, the decision was made to retroactively rebrand USB 3.0: 5Gb/s 3.0 connections became “USB 3.1 Gen 1,” with the 10Gb/s connections being “USB 3.1 Gen 2.” The consumer branding is “SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps.”

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