Getting rid of some names might not change much.
The group in charge of USB wants to make it easier for you to know what different cables and ports can do. It is trying to get rid of names like SuperSpeed and USB4 to make things easier, but manufacturers may not follow suit.
The steps are part of a larger effort by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) to change the name of the USB standards. Last year, the group got new logos for cables, ports, and packaging. The Verge spoke with Jeff Ravencraft, president and chief operating officer of USB-IF, who told The Verge that the new branding is meant to help people understand what the standards can do in terms of data transfer speeds, performance, and charging speeds.
SuperSpeed, also called USB 3, has been around for more than ten years. You may have seen it on cable boxes with USB ports. Going forward, USB-IF wants cable makers to say “USB 10Gbps” instead of “SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps” and “USB 20Gbps” instead of “USB4 20Gbps.” Meanwhile, USB-C cables that have been approved by the USB-IF will have to show both how fast they transfer data and how much power they use to charge.
USB branding could
The changes just went into effect, and by the end of the year, labels and packaging could start to show the new branding. The branding rules apply to products with any type of USB port, except USB 1.0 and USB 2.0, which aren’t used much anymore (aka USB Hi-Speed). The USB-IF thinks that using “USB 480Mbps” in this case might confuse people who might see it on packaging and think it’s faster than USB 5Gbps just because the number is bigger.
The rebranding rules only apply to USB-IF-certified devices and cables. But because USB is an open standard (unlike, say, Thunderbolt 4), there’s nothing stopping manufacturers from using SuperSpeed and USB4 branding if they really want to, as The Verge points out. As a result, it is still unclear how much these changes will help people who just need a cable for their device.
It’s hard enough to figure out which cable you need. For example, connectors and ports for Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 look the same as those for USB-C. Even with the new rules, it won’t be easy to tell if a cable supports DisplayPort or a certain fast-charging standard.
At least on the surface, these seem like good ways to clear up confusion and get rid of extra words. Still, it’s not clear if getting rid of the name “SuperSpeed,” which wasn’t used as much as “USB 3” anyway, will help most users understand what’s going on. Even if it did matter, it might not matter much because more and more people are using USB-C as a more universal standard, which is the whole point of USB.
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