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What is USB 3.2 and Various Types and versions of USB explained.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) is the most popular connection used to connect a computer to devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, and external hard drives. USB is a cross-platform technology that is supported by most of the major operating systems

USB 3.2 has arrived, but what on earth does that mean? 

Announced recently by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, the new standard works with USB-C, and its biggest feature is faster “multi-lane” traffic, which we’ll explain later. First, some background.

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USB 3.2 – USB-C and the story so far

As mentioned, the new standard works with USB-C, and we don’t blame you’re finding all these different terms confusing.
You can find out everything you need to know about USB-C in the coming paragraphs, but essentially, rather than a data transfer standard, it’s the latest form of physical connection for USB, like with MicroUSB and MiniUSB.

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 USB Versions:

To better understand what we mean about Type C being a replacement for both ends of the cable, you first need to understand the differences between the existing versions of USB and the various Type-A and Type-B connections.
USB versions refer to the overall standard and they define the maximum speed of the connection, the maximum power and much more besides. They theoretically could be applied to any shape of the connector so long as the computer and device are connected up correctly.
  • USB 1.1

Although USB 1.0 is technically the first version of USB it never really made it to market so USB 1.1 is the first standard we all used. It could deliver data at 12Mbps and maximum current draw of 100mA.
  • USB 2.0 
The second version of USB arrived in April 2000 and it provided a massive boost in maximum data throughput, up to 480Mbps. Power draw was also increased to a maximum of 1.8A at 2.5V.
  • USB 3.0
USB 3.0 was a big change as it brought new connector types to allow for its extra speed and power draw, with them often colored blue to denote their prowess. USB 3.0 can run at up to 5Gbps, delivering 5V at 1.8A. It arrived in November 2008.
  • USB 3.1
The latest and greatest version of USB was released in July 2013, though uptake is still almost non-existent. It can deliver 10Gbps of throughput while up to 2A can be drawn over 5V, and optionally either 5A over 12V (60W) or 20V (100W). This is the reason the new MacBook can be powered just by its USB connection.

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Types of USB:

  • USB Type-A

Type-A is the classic USB plug as we have long known it. The chunky rectangular plug was the original design and it remains the standard plug for use at the host end of the USB cable.
Now Type-A has gone through a number of changes to accommodate different versions of USB, with more pins added to allow for the faster speeds of USB 3.0 for instance. However the fundamental design of the plug has remained the same, with the new connections incorporated in such a way that all USB Type-A plugs and sockets are compatible no matter which version of USB they use.
It’s not always the case that whatever you plug in will work, as the newer standards of USB also deliver more power, which may be required by whatever device you’re plugging in, but for the most part they’re completely interchangeable.
There are also some variations of Type-A including Mini Type-A and Micro Type-A but these were never widely adopted due to the complicating nature of having different types of USB sockets on host devices. They are now deprecated.

  • USB Type-B

Although there are some uses for Type-A to Type-A USB cables, typically the other end of a USB cable uses a Type-B connector. This denotes the device attached at this end as being the client and because these types of device can vary so much we see much more variation in plug/socket types used.
The original type-B plug is the odd tall plug with the sloping top corners that you typically find on printers. This was extended to the USB 3.0 standard to include an extra bump for some new connections.
The classic Mini USB and MicroUSB are also variations of Type-B, along with the clunky MicroUSB 3.0, which uses a normal MicroUSB connection with an extra plug that carries more power connections.
Variations on Type-B have been far more widely adopted due to the sheer necessity of having smaller plugs at the client device end. Indeed, there are many devices that use entirely proprietary shape Type-B USB sockets, such as many of the odd shape plugs used on older mobile phones.


  • USB-C

This brings us to USB-C. Where Type-A and Type-B have had to work within the framework of being backwards compatible, Type-C is intended to replace both and is designed to be small enough to not need any mini or micro variants. The intention is that it will completely replace all types of USB on both host and client devices.
What’s more, its headline feature is of course that it’s reversible. This means you no longer have to get the plug the right way round – or even the cable the right way round – but instead, like Apple’s Lightning connection, it’ll work whichever direction you try – no more USB superposition.
To enable this USB-C cables actually require circuitry to tell which way round they are and route power and data in the right way, just like on Apple’s Lightning connection. This is unlike all existing USB standards which are just ‘dumb’ cables.
USB-C also builds on the new USB 3.1 standard so to all intents and purposes is the connection type that brings in the new power and speed advantages of USB 3.1.
USB-C is still backwards compatible with existing USB variants, but that of course requires adapters.
Unlike micro and Mini USB, however, USB-C has been designed to replace both ends of the cable.
USB-C can carry data across numerous connections such as Apple’s Thunderbolt, Displayport, HDMI, and, of course, USB 3.1 – which is currently the official data transfer standard for USB-C.
Just to make things even more confusing, so far we’ve had USB 3.1 Gen.1 which unfortunately ran at the same speed as USB 3.0 – the standard used by the previous USB A cables.
Then Gen.2 arrived, doubling that speed on certain hardware and cables that were compatible with the new version.
Now, we’ve had the launch of USB 3.2, which again ups the data transfer speeds.
Put simply, then, USB 3.2 refers to how data is sent across cables, while USB-C technology is a physical specification that dictates the appearance of plugs and wires.

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USB 3.2 – What’s new?

The existing USB 3.1 can transfer data at up to 10 gigabits per second using two lanes (5Gbps per lane), but the new USB 3.2 tech aims to double that to 20Gbps, or 2GB/Sec, by allowing for 10Gbps per lane.
However, the devices you’re using will have to support the newest USB hardware and come with the modern USB-C connectors.
That means, for the time being, the new standard is very much aimed at encouraging the industry to update its hardware – so it’ll be a little while before USB 3.2-compatible devices start showing up.

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On the plus side, you won’t need new cables, as the original USB-C cables were designed to eventually be used with the higher speeds – that is, as long as they’ve been certified for SuperSpeed USB 10GBps.
As the USB Promoter Group, explains: “A USB 3.2 host connected to a USB 3.2 storage device will now be capable of realizing over 2 GB/Sec data transfer performance over an existing USB Type-C cable that is certified for SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps.”
Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group chairman, explained further: “When we introduced USB Type-C to the market, we intended to assure that USB Type-C cables and connectors certified for SuperSpeed USB or SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps would, as produced, support higher performance USB as newer generations of USB 3.0 were developed.”
“The USB 3.2 update delivers the next level of performance.”
Another benefit of USB 3.2 is that it will work with USB 3.0 and earlier devices, and requires only a minor hub update to “assure seamless transitions between single and two-lane operation.”
And that, for now, is all you need to know. The USB 3.2 specification is now in a final draft review phase, but the formal release is planned to go ahead in time for the USB Developer Days North America event in September.

Does it mean the end of headphone jack?

 Yes, we have seen most of the big companies have started removing the headphone jack in their flagships and giving headphones with USB Type C port. Apple, HTC, Xiaomi, Moto etc., companies have already started doing it and soon its going to be seen even in the midrange devices thus eliminating it.

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