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Type USB
Production history
Designer USB Promoter Group
Designed 29 August 2019; 4 years ago (2019-08-29)
Superseded USB 3.2
Daisy chain No
Audio signal DisplayPort
Video signal DisplayPort
Connector USB-C
Max. voltage 48 V (PD 3.1)
Max. current 5 A (PD)
Data signal Yes
Bitrate 80 Gbit/s (10 GB/s)
USB4 Gen3×2 cable (40 Gbps) with 100 W Power Delivery

USB4 (official style), sometimes referred to as USB 4.0, is a technical specification that the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) released on 29 August 2019.[1] USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol specification, which Intel had contributed to the USB-IF,[2] but is aligned with the Thunderbolt 4 specification.[3]. The USB4 architecture can share a single, high-speed link with multiple hardware endpoints dynamically, best serving each transfer by data type and application.

In contrast to prior USB protocol standards, USB4 mandates the exclusive use of the Type-C connector and USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) specification. USB4 products must support 20 Gbit/s throughput and can support 40 Gbit/s throughput, but because of tunneling, even nominal 20 Gbit/s can result in higher effective data rates in USB4, compared to USB 3.2, when sending mixed data. In contrast to USB 3.2, it allows tunneling of DisplayPort and PCI Express.

Support of interoperability with Thunderbolt 3 products is optional for USB4 hosts and USB4 peripheral devices; but is mandatory for USB4 hubs on all of their downstream facing ports (DFP), and for USB4-based docks, on their upstream facing port (UFP) in addition to all of their downstream facing ports.[4] On the other hand, support for USB4 is required in Thunderbolt 4.[5]

The USB4 specification was updated on 18 October 2022 by the USB Implementers Forum, adding a new 80 Gbit/s bi-directional mode and 120 Gbit/s asymmetric mode.[6][7]


USB4 was announced in March 2019.[8][9] The USB4 specification version 1.0, released 29 August 2019, uses "Universal Serial Bus 4" and specifically "USB4", that is the short name branding is deliberately without a separating space versus the prior versions. Several news reports before the release of that version use the terminology "USB 4.0" and "USB 4".[10][11] Even after publication of rev. 1.0, some sources write "USB 4", claiming "to reflect the way readers search".[12]

On 1 September 2022, the USB Promoter Group announced the pending release of the USB4 Version 2.0 specification, and the specification was subsequently released on 18 October 2022.[13][14]

At time of publication of version 1.0, promoter companies having employees that participated in the USB4 Specification technical work group were: Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.

Goals stated in the USB4 specification are increasing bandwidth, helping to converge the USB-C connector ecosystem, and "minimize end-user confusion". Some of the key areas to achieve this are using a single USB-C connector type, while retaining compatibility with existing USB and Thunderbolt products.[15]

On 29 April 2020, DisplayPort Alt Mode version 2.0 was released, supporting DisplayPort 2.0 over USB4.[16]

Data transfer modes[edit]

USB4 by itself does not provide any generic data transfer mechanism or device classes like USB 3.x, but serves mostly as a way to tunnel other protocols like USB 3.2, DisplayPort, and optionally PCIe. While it does provide a native Host-to-Host protocol, as the name implies it is only available between two connected hosts; it is used to implement Host IP Networking. With the USB4 1.0 specification, when the host and device do not support optional PCIe tunneling, the non-display bandwidth is limited to mandatory USB 3.2 10 Gbit/s, with optional[disputed ] support for USB 3.2 20 Gbit/s. The USB4 2.0 specification named this USB3 Gen X tunneling and introduced optional support for a new USB3 Gen T tunneling that extends the USB3 protocol to be able to use the maximum available bandwidth.

USB4 V2.0 specifies tunneling of:

USB4 also requires support of DisplayPort Alternate Mode. That means, DP can be sent via USB4 tunneling or by DP Alternate Mode.[17] USB4 supports DisplayPort 2.0 over its alternative mode. DisplayPort 2.0 can support 8K resolution at 60 Hz with HDR10 color and can use up to 80 Gbit/s which is the same amount available to USB data, but just unidirectional.[18]

Legacy USB (1–2) is always supported using the dedicated wires in the USB-C connector.

Some transfer modes are supported by all USB4 devices, support for others is optional. The requirements for supported modes depend on the type of device.

Transfer mode support by endpoints[7]
Mode Host Hub Peripheral device
Legacy USB (1–2) (max. 480 Mbit/s) Yes Yes Yes
USB4 Gen 2 (10 or 20 Gbit/s) Yes Yes Yes
USB4 Gen 3 (20 or 40 Gbit/s) Optional Yes Optional
USB4 Gen 4 (80 or 120 Gbit/s) Optional Optional Optional
Tunneled USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 (10 Gbit/s) Yes Yes Optional
Tunneled USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbit/s) Optional Optional Optional
Tunneled USB3 Gen T (10–80 Gbit/s) Optional Optional Optional
Tunneled DisplayPort Yes Yes Optional
Tunneled PCI Express Optional Yes Optional
Host-to-Host communications Yes Yes
DisplayPort Alternate Mode Yes Yes Optional
Thunderbolt Alternate Mode Optional Yes Optional
USB-C Alternate Modes Optional Optional Optional
Comparison of transfer modes
Mode Name Old Name(s) Encoding Multiple Lanes Lane Rate
Nominal Rate USB-IF Marketing Name[19][20] Logo
(Gbit/s) (GB/s)
USB 2.0 (High-Speed) Does not appear NRZI w/ bit stuffing Single 0.480 0.480 0.060 Hi-Speed USB
USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed),
USB 3.1 Gen 1
8b/10b Single 5 5 0.625 USB 5Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1×2 Does not appear Dual 5 10 1.2
USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 USB 3.1 Gen 2 128b/132b Single 10 10 1.2 USB 10Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2×2[a] Does not appear Dual 10 20 2.4
USB4 Gen 2×1[a] 64b/66b[b] Single 10 10 1.2
USB4 Gen 2×2 Dual 10 20 2.4 USB 20Gbps
USB4 Gen 3×1 128b/132b[b] Single 20 20 2.4
USB4 Gen 3×2 Dual 20 40 4.8 USB 40Gbps
USB4 Gen 4[c] PAM-3[21] Symmetric 40 80 9.6 USB 80Gbps
Asymmetric 40 120 14.4
  1. ^ a b USB4 Gen 2×1 is different from USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. They only signify the same speed (10 Gbit/s), but are coded differently on the electrical layer.
  2. ^ a b USB4 can use optional Reed–Solomon forward error correction (RS FEC). In this mode, 12 × 16 B (128 bit) symbols are assembled together with 2 B (12 bit + 4 bit reserved) synchronisation bits indicating the respective symbol types and 4 B of RS FEC to allow to correct up to 1 B of errors anywhere in the total 198 B block.
  3. ^ Gen 4 always has dual lanes.

Although USB4 is required to support dual-lane modes, it uses single-lane operations during initialization of a dual-lane link; single-lane link can also be used as a fallback mode in case of a lane bonding error.

In Thunderbolt compatibility mode, the lanes are driven slightly faster at 10.3125 Gbit/s (for Gen 2) and 20.625 Gbit/s (for Gen 3), as required by Thunderbolt specifications (these are called legacy speeds and rounded speeds[22]). After removal of 64b/66b encoding, those also become round, 20.625/66*64 = 20.000 Gbit/s.

Power delivery[edit]

USB4 requires USB Power Delivery (USB PD). A USB4 connection needs to negotiate a USB PD contract before being established. A USB4 source must at least provide 7.5 W (5 V, 1.5 A) per port. A USB4 sink must require less than 250 mA (default), 1.5 A, or 3 A @ 5 V of power (depending on USB-C resistor configuration) before USB PD negotiation. With USB PD, up to 240 W of power is possible with 'Extended power range' (5 A at 48 V). For 'Standard Power range' up to 100 W is possible (5 A at 20 V).

Thunderbolt 3 compatibility[edit]

The USB4 specification states that a design goal is to "Retain compatibility with existing ecosystem of USB and Thunderbolt products." Compatibility with Thunderbolt 3 is required for USB4 hubs; it is optional for USB4 hosts and USB4 peripheral devices.[23] Compatible products need to implement 40 Gbit/s mode, at least 15 W of supplied power, and the different clock; implementers need to sign the license agreement and register a Vendor ID with Intel.[24]


Type-C receptacle pinout (end-on view)

USB4 has 24 pins in a symmetrical USB type C shell. USB4 has 12 A pins on the top and 12 B pins on the bottom.[25]

USB4 has two lanes of differential SuperSpeed pairs. Lane one uses TX1+, TX1-, RX1+, RX1- and lane two uses TX2+, TX2-, RX2+, RX2-. USB4 transfers data at 20 Gbit/s per lane. USB4 also keeps the differential D+ and D- for USB 2.0 transfer.[26]

The CC configuration channels have the roles of creating a relationship between attached ports, detecting plug orientation due to the reversible USB type C shell, discovering the VBUS power supply pins, determining the lane ordering of the SuperSpeed lanes, and finally the USB protocol makes the CC configuration channel responsible for entering USB4 operation.[27]

Type-C receptacle A pin layout
Pin Name Description
A1 GND Ground return
A2 SSTXp1 ("TX1+") SuperSpeed differential pair #1, TX, positive
A3 SSTXn1 ("TX1-") SuperSpeed differential pair #1, TX, negative
A4 VBUS Bus power
A5 CC1 Configuration channel
A6 Dp1 USB 2.0 differential pair, position 1, positive
A7 Dn1 USB 2.0 differential pair, position 1, negative
A8 SBU1 Sideband use (SBU)
A9 VBUS Bus power
A10 SSRXn2 ("RX2-") SuperSpeed differential pair #4, RX, negative
A11 SSRXp2 ("RX2+") SuperSpeed differential pair #4, RX, positive
A12 GND Ground return
Type-C receptacle B pin layout
Pin Name Description
B12 GND Ground return
B11 SSRXp1 SuperSpeed differential pair #2, RX, positive
B10 SSRXn1 SuperSpeed differential pair #2, RX, negative
B9 VBUS Bus power
B8 SBU2 Sideband use (SBU)
B7 Dn2 USB 2.0 differential pair, position 2, negative[a]
B6 Dp2 USB 2.0 differential pair, position 2, positive[a]
B5 CC2 Configuration channel
B4 VBUS Bus power
B3 SSTXn2 SuperSpeed differential pair #3, TX, negative
B2 SSTXp2 SuperSpeed differential pair #3, TX, positive
B1 GND Ground return
  1. ^ a b There is only a single non-SuperSpeed differential pair in the cable. This pin is not connected in the plug/cable.

Software support[edit]

USB4 is supported by:

Hardware support[edit]

During CES 2020, USB-IF and Intel stated their intention to allow USB4 products that support all the optional functionality as Thunderbolt 4 products. The first products compatible with USB4 were Intel's Tiger Lake processors, with more devices appearing around the end of 2020.[31][32]

Brad Saunders, CEO of the USB Promoter Group, anticipates that most PCs with USB4 will support Thunderbolt 3, but for phones the manufacturers are less likely to implement Thunderbolt 3 support.[12]

On 3 March 2020, Cypress Semiconductor announced new Type-C power (PD) controllers supporting USB4, CCG6DF as dual port and CCG6SF as single-port.[33]

In November 2020, Apple unveiled MacBook Air (M1, 2020), MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020), and Mac mini (M1, 2020) featuring two USB4 ports.

List of Apple devices featuring USB4 ports include:[34]

  • MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, M2, 2022)
  • iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
  • Mac mini (M1, 2020)

AMD also stated that Zen 3+ (Rembrandt) processors will support USB4[35] and released products do have this feature after a chipset driver update.[36] However, AMD has only announced support for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 in Zen 4 processors that were released in September 2022.[37][38]

  • Dell Precision 5540

Intel supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C with the mobile 9th generation processors in 2019.


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  4. ^ see 2.1.5 (page 15) in
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  15. ^ USB4 Spec. p.1
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External links[edit]