By GRL Team on October 17, 2022
USB,

New USB-IF Logo Guidelines: Simplifying the Ubiquitous Connector

Granite River Labs, GRL
Rajaraman Venkatachalam

Universal Serial Bus, or more commonly known as USB, is one of the consumer electronics communication technologies that has continuously evolved since 1996. USB is currently a dominant standard in PC, mobile, and consumer electronics. USB started the journey with the objective of having a standardized connector for personal computers with a data rate of 12Mbps, which has now grown to a massive data rate of 40Gbps with USB4 – that’s 3333 times increase in the data rate in just 27 years! The ease of use, speed, power, and expandability of USB have made it a dominant standard in PC, mobile, and consumer electronics, beyond its original intent.

In order to remain relevant, it is imperative to simplify and educate the end user about the features and benefits of the technology. With the introduction of SuperSpeed USB in 2007, the branding had been the logical differentiator since data transfer rates went from 0.48Gbps on USB 2.0 to 5Gbps on USB 3.0. But by 2022, consumers will have three versions of SuperSpeed USB plus the USB4. It's clear that USB products will continue to offer different performance capabilities while looking the same, but one thing's for sure: "SuperSpeed" isn't as effective as it used to be. Thus, USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced new product packaging and logo guidelines that unify and simplify the USB brand in support of consumers.

You'll see unified markings on USB products and packaging going forward. USB-IF is moving away from logos to represent the revision level/underlying technology of a given USB specification, for instance, USB 3.2 (SuperSpeed USB) or USB4®.

 

The new USB-IF Branding

USB-IF wants consumers to be unconcerned with the version number of their products. Instead of focusing on the USB version they're based on, the new branding emphasizes what the devices can actually do, which is also what the consumer is more likely to be interested in. From the user's perspective, this is a very welcome move. In addition, it removes the perspective that only the latest USB4 version is the best, since 5Gbps data rate with USB 3.2 may be sufficient for some applications. Performance and power capabilities for USB Type-C® products will vary, depending on the design and application. It is essential that the user needs to know the capabilities more clearly than the version numbers so that the consumer can take an informed decision.

A new branding scheme for certified USB Type-C cables was also released. The majority of cables will have to list their charging wattage as well as their data transfer speeds. A cable can't just claim to be 40Gbps anymore, it'll also have to list its power transfer capability, which can vary from 60W to 240W.
A key exception would be the original High-Speed USB logos (USB 2.0). You will continue to see version number USB 2.0, which maxes out at a now achingly slow 480Mbps. The reason? If branded as "USB 480Mbps," customers might incorrectly assume that a device with a higher number represents faster speed. After all, “USB 0.48Gpbs” does seem rather unremarkable.

 

USB Data Performance for host and devices

The USB4® and USB 3.2 specifications together identify four transfer rates – 40Gbps, 20Gbps, 10Gbps, and 5Gbps. All products must clearly communicate the performance signalling that a product delivers in the product’s packaging, advertising content, and any other marketing materials.

USB logo-1-Host Device

Figure 1: Packaging and logos for the new USB devices don't feature "SuperSpeed" or "USB4" branding. (Credit: USB-IF)

 

USB Type-C Cable

When it comes to cable, the maximum data rate it supports and the power it can carry matter the most. USB-IF is simplified and made clear in the marking so that consumers can quickly identify them.

USB logo-2-Type C Cable

Figure 2: Cables that are certified will now have to show their wattage as well as their data transfer speed, unless they are using the older Hi-Speed standard. (Credit: USB-IF)

 

These new logos and markings can help consumers to choose the right product for their needs although it should be noted that the new branding guidelines don't cover everything that a USB cable is capable of.

Overall, the changes seem positive. With USB-IF's rebranding efforts, we hope that it might make the all-important fine print a little easier to read.

 

References

  1. USB Performance Logo Usage Guidelines
  2. USB Type-C® Cable Logo Usage Guidelines

 

Author
Rajaraman Venkatachalam
GRL's Executive Vice President of Protocol and Power Solutions 

Raja spent over 14 years at Tektronix, Intel and Prodigy Technovations leading the development of automated testing solutions for high speed digital interfaces. Raja has deep experience in post-silicon validation methodologies and developing electrical and protocol compliance testing tools, and is an expert in HDMI, MHL, DisplayPort, UniPro, PCI Express, SD, I2C, SPI, UART, and MMC.

Published by GRL Team October 17, 2022