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USB Generation Guide: What you Need to Know

When we check the specs of a laptop, a smartphone, or any other gadget, there’s always a USB (Universal Serial Bus) somewhere in it. We usually see terminologies like USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. We commonly overlooked this information but it’s actually important because knowing the type of USB your gadget will allow you to better understand how it works and how to efficiently use it.

Here’s your guide to the different USB Generations.

  1. USB 1.0/1.1 (also known as Full Speed USB)

USB 1.0 was released last January 1996 with just a snaillike Max. Data Transfer speed of 12Mbps (Megabits per second). Only a handful of this version was released to the market because you can’t use extension cables and it can’t deliver power, which means to charge a gadget through USB. Because of this, in August 1998, the very first revision of the USB was created and it produced the USB 1.1 which was widely accepted that led to its usage to Microsoft’s Legacy-free PC.

Connector Type: USB Type-A and Type-B



  1. USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed USB)

Due to the increasing demand of users, the USB 2.0 was created last April 2000. It is believed that it is 40x faster than the USB 1.1 version because of an increased speed of 480Mbps. In addition, USB 2.0 is backward-compatible, which allows the previous USB version to connect to the new USB 2.0 and vice versa. Due to its better reliable data transfer rate, and power delivery of 2.5W, 5V and a maximum of 500mA current, USB 2.0 successfully replaces the USB 1.1 in the market.

Connector Type: USB Type-A, Type-B, Mini A, Mini B, Mini AB, Micro A, Micro B, Micro AB



  1. USB 3.x

New technologies are emerging which demands a huge increase in bandwidth that’s why in November 2008, the “USB 3.0” specification was released. To further expound on this topic, we will divide this section into 3 parts.

    • USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, SuperSpeed)

Released as 1 of the 2 variants of USB 3.2 in 2013, this version adopted the Full-Duplex mode on which 2 connected devices can send and receive data at the same time. It is known as a SuperSpeed USB because of its amazingly up to 5Gbps data transfer speed.

Connector Type: USB Type A, Type B, Micro B, and Type C



    • USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Gen 2, SuperSpeed+, SuperSpeed 10Gbps)

A significant performance boost because it supports up to 10Gbps of data transfer speed. This is the 2nd variant of USB 3.2 also released in 2013. We’d like to add that USB 3.2 Gen 1 & 2 adopted the USB Power Delivery which supports an astonishing 20V at 5A for a possibility of up to 100 watts using compatible hardware.

Connector Type: USB Type A, Type B, Micro B SuperSpeed and Type-C



    • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (USB 3.2, SuperSpeed 20Gbps)

With the advancement of technology, the need to transfer data at faster speeds prompted manufacturers/designers to create the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 which was released in September 2017. This version now offers a ridiculous 20Gbps of data transfer speed! Imagine transferring a 4K resolution movie in just a couple of seconds with those speeds. A noteworthy update of this is it was made on the Type C connector. In addition, Type C supports the reversible design, which means you can connect your Type C cable without the trouble of knowing the plug’s orientation or cable’s direction.

Connector Type: USB type-C


  1. USB 4 (USB 3.2, SuperSpeed 20Gbps)

Based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol, the USB 4 specification was released in August 2019. With an incredible 40Gbps of data transfer speed, this is the fastest among all the USB generations. There’s a catch with this specification because these kinds of speeds can only be supported in shorter distances of 0.8M only (including the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2). As a result, the industry still favors the previous USB generations.

Connector Type: USB type-C


In connection with the different USB Generations, we’d like to mention USB Port Color Coding since it’s relevant to the topic. Even though ports and connectors are sometimes color-coded to show what’s the USB specification and feature, these colors are not actually required and are not consistent between equipment manufacturers.


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Avatar for John Christopher Ilano

I'm a frustrated stoic, generalist and tech enthusiast. Service to humanity is the best work of life.

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