USB isn’t the most interesting of things, nor should it be. If USB is doing it’s job, then we shouldn’t notice it. That’s the theory anyway, but we’re always interested when we hear of new versions of the USB standard that could make things faster. That’s the case with USB 3.2, and devices should start to appear with support towards the end of this year.

According to the specifications for USB 3.2, we can expect a maximum speed of 20Gbps, which is twice as fast as the current highest speeds available from USB 3.1 Gen 2. It’s also a far, far cry form the 12Mbps speeds we saw from USB 1.1 all those years ago.

There was, and still is, confusion among users as to which speeds mean what thanks to the atrocious branding in play. USB 3.0 is capable of 5Gbps, while USB 3.1 could reach 10Gbps. That was, as Arstechnica elaborates, made all the more complicated by the USB-IF deciding to rebrand the older 5Gbps USB 3.0 standard as USB 3.1 Gen 1.

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.”

Confused yet? You will be, because old USB 3.1 devices are now being renamed as USB 3.2. That means the new lineup will look something like this.

  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 becomes USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 becomes USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • The new 20Gbps standard becomes USB 3.2 Gen 2×2

Really, who thought that calling the new standard Gen 2×2 was a good idea? Because they’re clearly very wrong indeed. And that’s before you consider the fact that anyone who sees a USB 3.2 cable or device will have absolutely no idea what speeds it is capable of.

Well done, folks. As a body whose sole job is to control standards for USB, it’s fair to say you’ve made everything way more complicated than it needs to be.

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