Understanding the USB standards

What's the difference between USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.0?


In essence, they are exactly the same - SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps.

With the introduction of faster USB speeds, the USB Implementers Forum (the trade group that defines USB standards) was required to reclassify some USB terms. 

Maybe the easiest way to show this new naming structure is in this table:


Original name First re-name New current name Marketing name Max speed
USB 3.0 USB 3.1 Gen 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps 5Gbps
USB 3.1 USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 SuperSpeed USB10Gbps 10Gbps
USB 3.2 n/a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps 20Gbps


It’s helpful to note that USB 3.2 devices are backwards compatible with all existing USB products, meaning that the newer USB products will work with older devices. The only difference is the throughput; two products with different USB capabilities will operate at the lower transfer speed.

Type A vs. C


In addition to offering different speeds, USB comes in different physical forms. The common USB Type-A ports are rectangular and require you to plug in your cable with the right side up. The newer USB Type-C ports are smaller, oval-shaped and reversible in that they save you from needing to know which end is up.

USB A connector

Type-C connector

USB A connector USB C icon


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