SuperSpeed USB (SS) is the latest and fastest Universal Serial Bus (USB) specification to date (June 2022). It encompasses all USB 3.2 devices and espouses much higher transfer rates than its predecessor, USB 2.0 and lower.
It is only natural for computing devices to become more advanced over time, which is true for USB. In computing’s case, more advanced can mean more features or faster. As the name suggests, SuperSpeed USB translates to faster.
Other interesting terms…
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Before diving into the SuperSpeed USB nitty-gritty, let’s review some basics first.
What Is USB?
USB is an industry standard for connection, communication, and power supply or interfacing between computers and peripherals. Simply put, it makes your external hard drive, where you store the pictures you took, for instance, work or accessible via your laptop.
Without USB, you can’t view and transfer the pictures you took with your non-Wi-Fi-accessible digital camera to your computer and your external hard drive.
What Devices Use USB?
Practically every digital device has a built-in USB port so it can be connected to other gadgets. Examples include your LED TV, Bluetooth speaker, router, smartphone, and gaming console. But the speed at which these devices get charged, transfer files to another gadget, or communicate with other devices on a wired network depends on the USB type. USB 2.0 devices do all of those things slower than USB 3.2 gadgets.
How Does USB 2.0 Differ from SuperSpeed USB?
USB 2.0 is generally slower, has fewer wires, and consumes less power than SS. By how much, though?
- USB 2.0 offers a transfer rate of 480Mbps, while SuperSpeed USB can transfer files at a rate of 5–20Gbps. If you don’t entirely get what that means. SS is at least 10 times faster than its predecessor.
- SuperSpeed USB has an additional physical bus, doubling its number of wires from four to eight. It is thus bigger than USB 2.0 connectors and won’t work on USB 2.0 ports.
- USB 2.0 provides up to 500 mA of power, while SuperSpeed USB gives up to 900 mA. As such, SuperSpeed USB can now make power-hungry devices work when plugged into a USB port. SuperSpeed USB also offers better power efficiency in that it consumes less power when idle or even no power when not used but still plugged in.
What Are the Different SuperSpeed USB Generations?
SS, as mentioned earlier, encompasses all USB 3.2 specifications, namely:
- USB 3.2 Gen 1: SuperSpeed USB with a transfer speed of 5Gbps. If you’re confused about how fast that is, it allows you to move around 320 music files per second from one device to another. 5Gbps is equivalent to 640Mbps, and a typical music file is around 2Mb in size.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2: SuperSpeed USB with a transfer speed of 10Gbps. It lets you move around 640 music files per second from one device to another.
- USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: SuperSpeed USB with a transfer speed of 20Gbps. It allows you to move around 1,280 music files per second from one device to another.
What Characterizes SuperSpeed USB?
- Allows multi-lane operation or up to two lanes of 10Gbps-capable operation to realize a transfer speed of 20Gbps, regardless of the cable’s length
- Boosts USB device performance to meet the current demand for storage, display, and docking applications
- Ensures seamless transition between single and two-lane operation, depending on the transfer’s requirements (smaller files can use one lane, bigger ones, two)
- Uses improved data encoding for better data transfer with higher throughput and enhanced power efficiency
- Is backward-compatible with all existing USB products, which means it will work on USB 2.0 and lower devices
SuperSpeed USB, like all other technological advancements, was established to make our digital lives more efficient. Since many of our documents are now digital, we needed a means to safely and efficiently store them. As a result, organizations that need to keep large databases over time will significantly benefit from the transfer speed that SuperSpeed USB offers.