USB type C, USB 2.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.2 ... Each new standards appear on the market that, beyond presenting an improvement over their previous versions, cause confusion among users. On the one hand, it is necessary to differentiate the concepts of standard with format. Generally, the standard defines the technology implemented in the cable in question . 2.0, 3.0, 3.1 Generation 2 and a long etcetera. Regarding the format, it defines the type of shape of the cable . USB type C, USB A, micro USB, mini USB… But, what differences are there really between a USB 2.0 cable vs 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 3.2? And between a USB C? Let's see next.
USB 2.0: read and write speed and characteristics
The second iteration of the USB and one of the most widespread at present data no less than 2000. It is now used in many cables phones and tablets, such as micro USB and USB Type C .
Regarding the characteristics of the standard, the main one is based on the number of lines that the cable incorporates to transmit data. Up to four lines in total , one pair for data and another pair for power supply up to no less than 500 mA , is what makes up the structure of USB 2.0.
Moving on to the speed section, USB 2.0 is capable of offering a maximum theoretical speed of 480 Megabits per second, or what is the same, 60 MB / s . The actual rate that the standard is capable of offering is 280 Mbps, around 35 MB / s for reading and writing . In practice, the speed offered is somewhat lower.
USB 3.0: specifications and maximum speed
We move on to the third numerical iteration of the USB. Born in 2009, it reaches ten times the maximum theoretical speed of the USB 2.0 cable .
With no less than five buses for power and data transfer, USB 3.0 is the first standard capable of providing the necessary power to hard drives and external drives with high amperage up to 900 mA. It also offers backward compatibility with the rest of the previous standards, and can be presented in USB type C and micro USB, in addition to USB A.
In terms of speed, the new version offers no less than 4.8 Gigabits per second, which in a more popular unit translates to 600 MB / s .
USB 3.1: maximum speed and features
Although for many it is not a significant improvement over the third version, USB 3.1 is the first standard capable of offering video output , replacing the traditional HDMI. We can currently see it on mobiles such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 or the OnePlus 7 Pro, two phones that support cable image output.
In this case, there are differences between two types of USB 3.1 according to generation: USB 3.1 Gen. 1 and USB 3.1 Gen. 2 .
USB 3.1 Gen. 1
USB 3.1 Gen.1 technology is nothing more than a “rebrand” of the well-known USB 3.0. In fact, the only differences from the 3.0 standard are based on the cable format .
We now have USB Type C instead of USB A. The other features are the same in practice: same speed and same power capacity .
USB 3.1 Gen. 2
The second generation is the first to offer the possibility of taking the image by video through a cable. It is from now on when the USB type C format begins to be used as a standard format, although it is possible to find second generation cables in USB A format .
The main difference from the previous one is based on the maximum speed, of no less than 10 Gigabits per second or 1,250 MB / s . To this is added, in addition, the compatibility of the latter with Power Delivery, significantly increasing the level of energy it can provide to other devices.
In practice means a capability that begins and ends at 5 V at 20 V, i.e., 60 W to 100 W . The same thing a laptop requires to charge its battery.
USB 3.2: read and write specifications and speed
We come to 2017 with one of the most advanced standards of today, USB 3.2. The new technology forces to use the USB type C format to make use of all its advantages as it is the only one capable of implementing several simultaneous lanes, not buses. In this aspect, USB type A can no longer be found with the 3.2 standard .
As far as specifications are concerned, the new format is capable of reaching 20 Gigabits per second of read and write speed. We are talking about a speed of no less than 2,500 MB / s, or what is the same, 2.5 GB / s .
So what is USB Type-C?
As we have anticipated at the beginning of the entry, USB type C is nothing more than a cable format , as are USB type A (the usual one), micro USB or mini USB. The characteristics of this, like the previous formats, depend entirely on the standard integrated in it.
Currently we can find USB Type C 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.1 Gen 1, 3.1 Gen 2 and, of course, USB 3.2 cables. However, the main reason for their confusion is due to the Thunderbolt 3 technology , released by Apple's MacBook Pros back in 2016.
This technology is more than double the speed of USB 3.2. We are talking about figures that reach 40 Gigabits per second, or what is the same, 5,000 MB / s or 5 GB / s . Another difference that Thunderbolt 3 has with USB 3.2 is Power Delivery. Now the ability to deliver up to 100W comes natively to all Thunderbolt 3 cables . It is also backward compatible with USB 3.1 Gen.2 cables and Display Port 1.2 connections.
Finally, it is worth mentioning what is possibly the star feature of the standard: the possibility of connecting external graphics cards and 8K monitors . Thanks to the high data rate that it is capable of offering, all those devices with Thunderbolt 3 technology are compatible with the connection of graphics through a simple cable. It should also be noted the compatibility with high-resolution monitors, such as 4K, 5K, 6K and 8K.