As Chrome OS continues to mature in nearly every area, it now appears that Chromium developers are getting ahead of the curve by prepping for the yet-to-be-released USB4™ standard. Never heard of USB4™? You probably aren’t alone. Most consumers are just getting comfortable with USB 3.0, 3.1 and all-encompassing 3.2. To add to the confusion, USB 3.x doesn’t necessarily mean USB-C, either but that’s a discussion for another day.
Announced at the end of August, USB4™ will hopefully streamline the mess that is USB standards by offering varying levels of features that will all use USB-C. Apart from the use of only one type of cable, USB4™ will boast transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps, optional Thunderbolt compatibility and improved bandwidth allocation when transferring video and data.
From the commit we discovered, USB4™ could arrive with Tiger Lake-based Chromebooks which will likely not show up until the latter part of 2020. Tiger Lake will be Intel’s second iteration of their long-awaited 10nm chipsets following the Ice Lake processors that Chromium developers chose to pass on for Chromebooks.
TCPMv1: Add support for USB4.0
USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol specification. It supports 40 Gbit/s throughput, is compatible with Thunderbolt 3, and backwards compatible with USB 3.2 and USB 2.0.Chromium Commit
USB4™ will also support PD (power delivery) charging as a standard. This will give USB4™ devices the ability to output high-power to charge larger devices and it will be backwards compatible with your current USB cables and devices. However, keep in mind that USB4™ won’t increase the speed of your existing devices. Whatever cables you use or devices you connect to a USB4™ device will be restricted to their own capabilities.
There’s a good chance we’ll get a glimpse of USB4™ at CES 2020 next month but as I mentioned, it could be a year or more before we see devices equipped with the new standard. Still, it is very exciting to see Chrome OS catch up with the rest of the PC industry and actual develop new standards alongside everyone else. 2020 is going to be another huge year for our favorite operating system. To learn more about USB4™, check out this great writeup from Tom’s Hardware.