The USB Implementers Forum has officially confirmed the specification for the upcoming USB4 – meaning the technology is now one step closer to reaching the marketplace.

The standard for USB4 was first announced in March this year, though nothing was formally ratified for six months. Now it has been confirmed, with a press release from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announcing the development.

USB4 – which follows on from USB 3.2 – is set to hit the market in 2020, bringing with it a whole host of benefits.

First (and foremost in many people’s minds) is speed. USB4 is expected to offer Thunderbolt 3 equivalent speeds of 40Gbps – making it twice as fast as that of its predecessor. What’s more, Intel has opted to open this technology up to everyone. Theoretically this means that all USB4 devices can achieve such speeds – not only those from companies that have gone through the potentially costly process of partnering with Intel (as is the current position).

It’s not just about speed but also volume and quality of data able to be sent along the cable. As the USB-IF noted, USB4 will involve “multiple data and display protocols that efficiently share the maximum aggregate bandwidth.” In plain English, this means USB4 cables won’t waste bandwidth by sending multiple signals along the line, many of which are unnecessary. In real terms this means USB4 could be used to connect two 4K monitors to a PC, or run an external GPU with no difficulty.

On the pricing side, there are many variables that mean it’s difficult to say with any certainty how much it will cost the typical user. New cables could in theory cost less than expected because there’s now no need to cover what dubbed the ‘Intel tax’. However, these new cables will be much more advanced than today’s models, and will need to be higher quality (40Gbps certified) to carry the level of bandwidth outlined above. There’s still some way to go before the new standard reaches widespread adoption, but this development has gone some way to move it nearer than it’s been yet.