HP Elite x3 USB-C Travel Hub

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced a naming change for USB 3.0 at 3.1 at MWC in Barcelona. The panel has decided to adopt a 3.2 GenX for the standards, which is likely to cause confusion for some.

USB 3 was previously changed to 3.1 Gen1, and will now be known as 3.2 Gen1. USB 3.1 was formerly USB 3.1 Gen2, and will be USB 3.2 Gen2. Meanwhile, the former USB 3.2 will be USB Gen2x2.

Despite having the same version number, the standards vary wildly in terms of specification. 3.2 Gen1 and Gen2 both use USB A/C but have speeds of 5 GBit/s and 10 GBit/s, respectively. Meanwhile, Gen2x2 uses the USB-C plug with speeds of 20 GBit/s.

For consumers, manufacturers are encouraged to use the SuperSpeed USB branding and speed. For example, USB-C would be SuperSpeed USB 20 Gbps. Unfortunately, this is rarely used, as consumers are already familiar with the USB 3.x naming.

USB Fast Role Swap and Security

As well as announcing the changes, USB-IF demoed its Fast Role Swap technology at MWC. It will let USB-C devices quickly switch roles between power consumers and power providers.

According to ComputerBase, the demo included a USB stick and a monitor on a USB Type-C dock, with a laptop then charged via the monitor. When the monitor was removed, the laptop then took control of the dock and memory stick without data transfer interruption.

In the future, such technology could mitigate some of the worries when accidentally unplugging things, and generally lead to more convenient experience. Meanwhile, the board announced an optional digital authentication for USB-C devices, issued by DigiCert. This would check for authentication before power has even been transmitted.