16 votes

The confusing world of USB

7 comments

  1. [4]
    joplin
    Link
    Holy shit! Who thought this would even be comprehensible by users, let alone was a good idea: I've never heard of any of those, and I work in tech, so this was just a colossally bad naming scheme.

    Holy shit! Who thought this would even be comprehensible by users, let alone was a good idea:

    With USB 3.1 the bandwidth doubled to 10 Gbit/s. But USB-IF called it "USB 3.1 Gen 2" with the "old" USB 3.0 to be refereed to as "USB 3.1 Gen1". They did it again in 2017 with what people would have liked to be "USB 3.2". We got 20 Gbit/s except it was to be called "USB 3.2 Gen 2x2". Accordingly "USB 3.1 Gen 2" became "USB 3.2 Gen 2x1" and "USB 3.1 Gen 1" was renamed "USB 3.2 Gen 1x1".

    I've never heard of any of those, and I work in tech, so this was just a colossally bad naming scheme.

    13 votes
    1. [2]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      The naming scheme for WiFi is on the verge of being just as incomprehensible, with the renaming of the various 802.11 standards as a more consumer palatable WiFi <integer> which sets up a symlink...

      The naming scheme for WiFi is on the verge of being just as incomprehensible, with the renaming of the various 802.11 standards as a more consumer palatable WiFi <integer> which sets up a symlink for all of us to remember; and of course, they're now recomplicating it by introducing WiFi 6e/WiFi 6 wave 2, previously known as 6GHz 802.11ax.

      11 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        Wait really? I just started looking into upgrading again and found out about Wifi 6. How hard is it to just increment a number? Damnit this is why we can't have good things. I blame marketing. Too...

        Wait really? I just started looking into upgrading again and found out about Wifi 6. How hard is it to just increment a number?

        Damnit this is why we can't have good things.

        I blame marketing. Too many companies want their number to go up without making genuine improvements.

        3 votes
    2. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      I've run into some of this spec mayhem with laptop docks, and it ain't pretty. Especially the "how many lanes of video at what resolution do I actually have available?" question. For a while, Dell...

      I've run into some of this spec mayhem with laptop docks, and it ain't pretty. Especially the "how many lanes of video at what resolution do I actually have available?" question. For a while, Dell drivers were utterly unreliable for Thunderbolt, too.

      7 votes
  2. [2]
    hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    Unfortunately, for both USB4 and Thunderbolt 3, it's not as simple as just looking for the lightning bolt. Both Thunderbolt 3 and USB4 can run at 40Gb/s, but the minimum speed for both specs is...

    And so, for the foreseeable future, the first thing I will look at in a new laptop/desktop/hub will be direct support for Thunderbolt-3.

    Unfortunately, for both USB4 and Thunderbolt 3, it's not as simple as just looking for the lightning bolt. Both Thunderbolt 3 and USB4 can run at 40Gb/s, but the minimum speed for both specs is just half that, 20Gb/s.

    Thankfully, Thunderbolt 4 is 40Gb/s all the way.

    Unfortunately, Thunderbolt 4 will probably remain available only on Intel laptops (and really, Intel motherboards) for the foreseeable future.

    Oh, and whatever weird stuff Apple makes these days

    Yes, there was that weird AMD motherboard with Thunderbolt 3 support, but that came out one year ago and uh, there hasn't been anything since then, so don't hold your breath.

    Also don't hold your breath for USB4 on AMD laptops and motherboards, because that won't be arriving until at least 2022 with AMD's Rembrandt/6000 series of chips:

    Finally, even if you are holding out for USB4 on AMD laptops, you're just plain out of luck if your main intended use for USB4 is to connect an external graphics card to your laptop, because USB4 does not support the PCIe connectivity of Thunderbolt. You can probably still use an external graphics card, but it will be severely limited.


    Overall, yeah, USB sucks and is confusing, but it is also awesome and still better than what we had previously. Thankfully almost every laptop coming out this year that doesn't support Thunderbolt 4 should at least support USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 and DisplayPort 1.4, allowing you to connect at least one 4K 60Hz external monitor.

    4 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      Unless of course you buy an M1 Mac Mini or MacBook Air, which also supports Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4, and is marketed as Thunderbolt / USB 4.

      Unfortunately, Thunderbolt 4 will probably remain available only on Intel laptops (and really, Intel motherboards) for the foreseeable future.

      Unless of course you buy an M1 Mac Mini or MacBook Air, which also supports Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4, and is marketed as Thunderbolt / USB 4.

      4 votes
  3. patience_limited
    Link
    From the article:

    From the article:

    The USB world has reached a complexity level which exceeds the amount of time I can dedicate to understanding it. While I was researching USB hubs, I kept on running into their Thunderbolt-3 counterparts which seemed not only superior in capabilities but also far simpler.

    2 votes