Super highway USB cables


With Marshal John Mdeza:

USB cables and ports are not made equal. USB cables and ports may look identical but, verily, verily, I say unto you, they may be as different as red and blue in terms of performance.

Perhaps, before I go any further, why are faster USB cables and ports important in the world? The smartphones of today have data holding capacities of up to one Terabyte; that is a lot of data. A slow USB cable like USB 2.0 will take days to transfer such huge amounts of data say to a laptop.


A USB cable is like a highway. Some highways allow four cars to pass through while others can allow eight cars at one time. Super-speed USB cables and ports are ‘superhighways’ that, perhaps, we have not seen developed in real life.

USB standard has been with us for as long as the days of Microsoft Windows 95 in 1995. In those days, it was USB 1.0. USB that was essentially for connecting desktops to printers and there was no need for greater transfer speeds. As days went by, we needed better speeds to transfer data from external hard drives and flash drives into our computers. USB 1.0 highway was made sixty times ‘wider’ and we had USB 2.0.

Smartphones then became part of our lives and we needed faster USB cables to transfer data to our computers. Enter USB 3.0. Whilst USB 2.0 transferred data at 12 Megabits per second, USB 3.0 transferred data at 5 Gigabits per second. You do not have to know what that exactly means What is important is that USB 3.0 is about 426 times faster than USB 2.0.


USB 3.0 did not totally quench our thirst for faster USB connections, and manufacturers kept asking for more from USB implementers; they soon doubled the speed to 10 Gigabits per second. This is where we are at the moment. Unfortunately, not many gadgets have USB 3.1. Safe to say that Apple’s recent MacBook Pro laptop uses USB 3.1.

The USB Promoter Group that comprises representatives from Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, ST Microelectronics and Texas Instruments which is backed up by non-profit USB implementers is not yet done; the group has confirmed arrival of USB 3.2 which is expected to appear in consumer devices later this year.

USB 3.2 is a 20 Gigabit per second standard; twice USB 3.1, where do we go from here? Hold on.

Before we ever experienced USB 3.2 running at the speed of light, USB 4.0 at twice the speed of USB 3.2 has been announced. This is expected to grace devices by the end of 2020.

Because this is now apparently confusing, the USB Implementers Group has decided to change the naming structure. USB 3.0 is now USB 3.2 Generation 1. USB 3.1 will become USB 3.2 Generation 2 and USB 3.2 will become USB 3.2 Generation 2×2, which basically means twice USB 3.2 Generation 2.

No need to worry as there are marketing names for USB; Super Speed USB (USB 3.0), Super Speed 10Gbps (USB 3.1) and Super speed 20Gbps (USB 3.2).

Now here is all-important lesson from all these unpalatable names; for better performance your USB cable and port should be of the same speed. If one is slower, the operation will be at the lower speed.

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