News, tips, advice, support for Windows, Office, PCs & more
Home icon Home icon Home icon Email icon RSS icon

We're community supported and proud of it!

  • There are no USB cables any more

    Home Forums AskWoody blog There are no USB cables any more

    Viewing 12 reply threads
    • Author
      Posts
      • #2348632
        Brian Livingston
        AskWoody MVP

        PUBLIC DEFENDER By Brian Livingston It used to be that you could run any old USB cable between just about any two USB ports, and the devices on each e
        [See the full post at: There are no USB cables any more]

        4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2348641
        Colorado_Hiker
        AskWoody Plus

        Great synopsis of the “State of the [very confusing] USB/Thunderbolt”  🙂

        I have a Dell Latitude 7280, circa 2018, with a  USB-C  port that is very clearly marked with the Thunderbolt lightning icon.  However, when I run the powershell command in the PDF document referenced in your article, it brings back zero Thunderbolt ports.  If I change the command from *Thunder* to *USB*, it lists all my USB ports.  Kinda strange???  I’m -almost- positive I have a Thunderbolt 3, but I’m at a loss to determine if I truly do or not!

        Any ideas, anyone?

        TIA,

        Jim

      • #2348655
        erbkaiser
        AskWoody Plus

        I can’t resist.xkcd: standards

        USB is an absolute mess. There is also the annoying practice that started with USB 3.1 where retroactively USB 3.0 was renamed to USB 3.1 Gen1 — and now with 3.2, what was USB 3.0 is now USB 3.2 Gen 1×1, what was USB 3.1 is now USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, and USB 3.2 is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.

        It’s almost as if they want to make it as confusing as possible.

        • This reply was modified 1 month ago by erbkaiser.
        10 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2348665
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          There is also the annoying practice that started with USB 3.1 where retroactively USB 3.0 was renamed to USB 3.1 Gen1 — and now with 3.2, what was USB 3.0 is now USB 3.2 Gen 1×1, what was USB 3.1 is now USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, and USB 3.2 is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.

          That’s a big annoyance to me too. What would be wrong with calling them (gasp!) USB 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2, respectively? How many people even know that USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 gen 1 and USB 3.2 gen 1×1 are all the same thing? Just because the USB SIG gets together and declares the name for something has changed does not mean that people, marketing literature, and existing products all automatically get updated to reflect the change. This is bound to cause confusion, and it’s so pointless… we already had a good name for that which used to be called USB 3.0, and that was USB 3.0!

           

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

          3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2348792
        Wheel_D
        AskWoody Lounger

        “There are no USB cables any more”

        What about portable devices such as smartphones? It was my understanding that the majority of newer devices had adopted USB-C sans Thunderbolt.

        • #2348822
          anonymous
          Guest

          No Intel adopted the USB-IF’s USB Type-C Plug/Electrical standard and with the USB-IF’s blessing created the TB3/USB Type-C Alternative Mode Cable/Protocol controller usage model that’s fully compatible  and is a superset of the USB Type-C Plug/Electrical Standard and Protocol Standard! And there had been already a USB Type-C Plug/Form Factor Display Port Alternative mode standard  where there is an extra a set of differential cable pairs that can support Display Port over the USB Type-C Plug/Cable Pin-Out!

          The USB Type-C Plug/Cable standard has a documented Port/Cable Pin-Out with several alternative and extra sets or differential cable pairs to support more than just the USB-IF’s USB Protocol/Signalling and the USB-IF’s Electrical delivery standard that’s more feature packed than the previous generations of USB-IF standards that the USB-IF/Partners have made backwards compatible with the older USB-IF standards.

          If one looks at the USB-IF’s Type-C Plug/Port Pin-Out one can see there is sufficient differential pairs for all sorts of Alternative Mode usage possibilities and the USB-4 standard now includes Intel’s TB3 Protocol Standard as part of the USB-IF’s own  USB 4 standard/Standards and going forward many makers will be supplying USB-4 Controller Chips. So look for USB-4 to offer up to 40Gbs via that TB3 Protocol Standard that’s now being managed by the USB-IF under its USB 4 standard. You will have to get an active cable to support the full TB3 Protocol’s 40Gbs bandwidth as the passive cables(Without the Driver chips embedded in the Cable) will only support 20Gbs bandwidth as per the TB3 standard.

          I will say this that Laptop makers will not be quick at adopting these new standards because Laptops come with rather limited amounts of MB/PCIe 3.0 lanes and laptop markers always wanting to cut corners on supplying the proper numbers of PCIe 3.0 lanes to support the full bandwidth of the Thunderbolt/Other controller chips that Intel/Others Make. Just look at the USB-IF’s USB 3.2 standard’s protocol/controller offerings and there’s USB 3.2 Gen 1 that’s 5Gbs and USB 3.2 Gen 2 that’s 10Gbs and is that 10Gbs used on many laptops currently. And with USB 3.2’s arrival there was also the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Protocol Standard for 20Gbs bandwidth, that’s actually is just 2, USB 3.2 Gen-2/10Gbs wire pairs that are Link Aggregated/Link Bonded together to give that Gen 2×2 20Gbs bandwidth.

           

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2348934
            anonymous
            Guest

            My head is actually throbbing after reading your post. I know you know what you are talking about, that’s why I became invested in trying to understanding it. That’s when my head started hurting.

            No way am I reading it again.

            I’m just gonna keep plugging things in until it works. And if it doesn’t work I’ll go to Fry’s and get another cable and try that.

            2 users thanked author for this post.
            • #2348971
              anonymous
              Guest

              There is one solution to any confusion and that is to read the Technical Whitepapers that are provided by the USB-IF and PCI-SIG/Other Standards Bodies and their Standards Technical Whitepaper content. And the USB-IF has Promulgated its USB-IF USB naming/labeling conventions that its members(All the processor/MB/Other industry players make up the USB-IF standards body’s membership  and various engineering boards/committees within the USB-IF) and the are supposed to correctly implement that naming guidance.  But Marketing Departments are the bane of Proper Naming/Nomenclature usage either through lack of Knowledge or Nefarious intent to Obfuscate!

            • #2349195
              PaulK
              AskWoody Lounger

              I’ll go to Fry’s

              Uh – no you won’t. That was another standard resource that no longer is.
              See https://www.frys.com/ .

              1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2348796
        anonymous
        Guest

        The USB-IF’s years of Constant rebranding of their standards and Protocol Controllers and Plug Form Factors/Electrical Standards and that and the lack of Consumer oriented guidance that the OEMs should have been required to follow has lead to the confusion that continues to this day,

        The USB-IF as well as the Other Industry Standards Bodies like VESA, and PCI-SIG/others are all Non Profit Industry Standards Bodies and maybe Congress should have recognized these Industry Standards Bodies’ Product Labeling Requirements as some Legally Binding Consumer Product Labeling Requirement and forced the Laptop/PC OEMs to Follow the USB-IF’s/Other Standards Bodies’ Product Labeling  Guidance as the De Facto consumer regulatory product labeling requirement.

        If one looks at the laptop Market there is has been so much confusion regarding the USB-IF’s proper Port/Plug and Protocol(Bandwidth) Labeling on Laptop’s Marketing Copy and even the Laptops User Manuals and Data-Sheets.  My current Laptop’s Motherboard documentation is so poor I do not even Know if My laptop’s M.2/NVMe slot has a PCIe x2(2 PCIe 3.0 lanes) or PCIe x4(4 PCIe 3.0 Lanes) capable M.2 physical connection. But Like the USB-IF’s labeling Guidance there is no M.2.NVMe labeling Guidance that’s enforceable on  Laptop OEMs and PC makers was well!

        Those USB Cables and the various generation of USB-IF Plug/Port and Electrical standards is also not properly differentiated from the USB-IFs Protocol/Controller standards that are implemented via discrete MB Soldered Controller Chips or Processors/SOCs that actually implement that USB Controller IP on the Processor’s Die or Chip-Set! So there’s plenty of confusion short of having the Laptop’s Motherboards Schematic Diagram handy with all the various Chips and Slots on the Laptop’s MB labeled and MB’s electrical traces labeled to properly suss things out.

        Really gone are the Days of the TRS-80 Model IIs where the PC shipped with a full set of software and hardware manuals that included the device’s Main Board and labeled every single IC and port/slot/connector on that personal computer!

         

      • #2348864
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        USB is still alive and kicking.
        My laptop has USB-A ports and 1 USB-C port (for which I have no use).
        I also use 8 USB-A port hub.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2348925
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          I think what the point of the article was is that it used to be that you could just ask for a “USB cable” and the other person would know what you were asking for. There was no USB type C, Mini USB (B), Micro USB (B), USB 3.0*, mini USB 3.0 (B), or Thunderbolt… there was just “a USB cable,” that consisted of a type A on one end and type B on the other. No one really had the need to specify anything; if you wanted a USB cable, that was it.

          * By any other name or generation.

           

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

          6 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2348892
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Alex: “USB is still alive and kicking.

        I very much hope so and wish it a very long life ahead!

        All of my peripherals are USB connected, because I do not buy a new bunch of them every year and throw the old ones away to keep up with industrial fashion.

        I suspect I am not the only one like that.

        Otherwise, it would be dongles or WiFi for everything and for ever for Yours Truly. Not something wonderful to contemplate, particularly for someone like me, the proud owner of a laptop (a type of computer whose purpose is to be carried around in a compact form, not with bits and pieces hanging from it like tassels; or that cannot be used it in many places where “outsider” computers are not allowed to connect to the local WiFi network.)

        As to confusing standards: I’ve never noticed any adverse fallout to me personally from that. Has anybody else, who just has one computer or two to do work, keep in touch with others, and even enjoy some recreation?

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2348927
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          As to confusing standards: I’ve never noticed any adverse fallout to me personally from that. Has anybody else, who just has one computer or two to do work, keep in touch with others, and even enjoy some recreation?

          Well, if you buy a device that uses USB 3.2 Gen 1 Superspeed, do you know immediately if it would work at full speed or not on your older laptop with USB 3.0?

           

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

          • #2348981
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Acaris: “Well, if you buy a device that uses USB 3.2 Gen 1 Superspeed, do you know immediately if it would work at full speed or not on your older laptop with USB 3.0?

            As long as the jacks fit in the sockets, I probably wouldn’t notice. Or if I noticed, I wouldn’t worry. For anything that requires a high-speed connection and considering the things I actual use for what I actually do, 25 Mb/s WiFi from Internet to the router and from there, via WiFi or Ethernet connection, to a computer, is fast enough for me and I actually have twice that bandwidth in my internet connection at home, because I might need it, occasionally, for some real-time work. For anything else, speed is not really an issue, the time things take is not critical for me. So I can live with some USB mismatches as long as the data are moved from A to B when I need that to happen. For those who can afford to do it, there are advantages in keeping things simple and to a minimum.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          • #2349216
            anonymous
            Guest

            It’ll work at the speed of the device’s USB bus.  In the case of 3.0 flash drives, few even come close, they’re dreadful, actually.  One’s that can cost 2-3x as much as most. San Disk Extreme Pro is one of them.

            Unless someone is writing many small files or 4k video to a flash drive, a typical flash drive will be fast enough that most users won’t care.  I can steam 4k videos from a cheap usb hdd through a 3.0 port smoothly.  Seeking, start up, etc cause a slight pause but playback is fine.

            If you’re trying to perform multiple tasks via. one usb port through a switch or something similar, extreme speed is probably good.  For most uses 3.0 is sufficient.

            2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2349035
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        What is the current meaning of the word “STANDARD”?   It certainly doesn’t seem to mean what it once did: if gizmo A and dohickey B both conform to Standard Z, they will play well together.

        Thunderbolt is not a standard in any recognizable way.  It’s a hodgepodge of semi-proprietary schemes untied by a single hardware connector.

        We are not making progress, folks.  If anything, we’re losing ground.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2349162
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        My newest computer was built at the end of 2012 and has standard old USB 2.0 which has worked fine for me, and I have all the proper standard old cables I need.  Where I see a problem coming is the day when I’ll have to build a new computer, and have to educate myself on all this newfangled malarkey.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2349229
          Wheel_D
          AskWoody Lounger

          If your computer was built in 2012, it’s probably got at least one port for USB 3.0.

      • #2349212
        anonymous
        Guest

        I have no idea how thunderbolt is pragmatically different from USBC.  If you attach a Thunderbolt dock, it’s recognized otherwise my laptop claims there are no Thunderbolt ports available.  If I remove the drivers, everything still works.  Weird.  The whole external peripheral world has been strange forever, remember PCMCIA cards?  That big flat thing that stuck out and broke off?  I can’t recall one that wasn’t taped together eventually.

        Went through the same thing upgrading graphics cards, fans, etc for a gaming rig.  So many different connectors.  Eventually I gave up, learned where the wires go, picked any connector with the right number and size of plugs and just shaved the plastic male/female portion into a shape that fit.  Works great IF you know what each wire does and you’re patient with an exacto knife.

        Decades later, I still think computers are amazing.  There are times when I’m amazed they work at all, though!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2350684
        riovistade
        AskWoody Plus

        Just one question – does it work to connect two USB-C only devices/ports with a TB3 cable? In other words, can I connect my phone (which has a USB-C port) to one of my computer’s USB ports, with a TB3 cable? Niether support Thunderbolt.

      • #2350691
        anonymous
        Guest

        Good article but sensational (designed to grab readers’ attention), misleading & wrong headline. “There is no one major type of USB cable any more” or “There is no one major USB cable type any more” is more accurate & honest.  (Submitted w/ Firefox because not able to w/ IE, no reCAPTCHA.)

      • #2355755
        Stephanie_Sy
        AskWoody Lounger

        Does a USB 3.0 connection require a USB 3.0 cord?

        • #2355771
          anonymous
          Guest

          No.; If both devices support USB 3.0 a proper cable will enable interconnection at the highest speed.

        • #2355806
          Paul T
          AskWoody MVP

          You can use a USB 2 cable but it will give you USB 2 speeds.

          cheers, Paul

    Viewing 12 reply threads

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, no politics or religion.

    Reply To: There are no USB cables any more

    You can use BBCodes to format your content.
    Your account can't use Advanced BBCodes, they will be stripped before saving.