The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has come under fire this week for its plan to absorb the entirety of the USB 3.x specification family within USB 3.2, in a move critics claim will cause widespread confusion about the actual capabilities of USB devices.

The USB 3.2 standard isn't new, by any stretch of the imagination: The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) finalised it back in September 2017, promising double the throughput of USB 3.1 Gen 2 by doubling the number of lanes that can be thrown down a single cable. The standard was then publicly demonstrated in May 2018 by Synopsys, in a video showcasing a sustained 1.6GB/s transfer rate.

It's not the performance of USB 3.2 that has people up in arms, however, but a new naming convention the USB-IF appears to be implementing. According to slides marked 'confidential' obtained by Computer Base following a presentation at Mobile World Congress 2019, the USB-IF plans to have USB 3.2 'absorb all prior 3.x specifications' - meaning USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 effectively disappear, albeit in name only.

It's not the first time the USB-IF has used this tactic: USB 3.1 Gen 1 is nothing more than USB 3.0 with a hat on, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 being the "true" USB 3.1 standard offering double the throughput at 10Gb/s. Having got away with the rebranding exercise that time, the USB-IF's leaked plan sees it doing exactly the same again: USB 3.1 Gen 1, which was USB 3.0, becomes USB 3.2 Gen 1; USB 3.1 Gen 2, which is the real USB 3.1, becomes USB 3.2 Gen 2; and the real USB 3.2 standard, as unveiled back in 2017, becomes USB 3.2 Gen 2x2.

These, however, are only the technical names for the standards: On a consumer level, nothing changes from the current naming conventions. The slower of the three standards will continue to be called SuperSpeed USB, the current fastest SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, and the new USB 3.2 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps. This hasn't stopped a wave of articles in the technical press berating the organisation for its actions, though, but so far the USB-IF appears to be steadfast in sticking to its plan.

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