GIGABYTE has introduced the industry’s first PCIe expansion card for USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports. Offering the latest generation in USB connectivity, with a total throughput of 20Gbps, the board adds a single Gen2x2-capable USB-C port for systems to take advantage of the higher throughput USB standard.

The GIGABYTE GC-USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 PCIe expansion card is based on the ASMedia ASM3242 host controller, which allows for data transfer rates of up to 20 Gbps (2.5 GB/s) when working with compatible devices. The same controller is used on various AMD TRX40-based motherboards and will likely be used on other platforms to enable the standard as well. The card relies a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, and atypically for USB-C add-in cards, doesn't require an additional power plug to drive the card or attached peripherals.

As a quick refresher, the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 uses two high-speed USB Type-C Tx/Rx channels to achieve 20 Gbps maximum throughput. By doubling the number of USB high speed data channels in use, the 2x2 standard is a very straightforward extension of USB 3.2 Gen2, taking advantage of the additional high speed lanes offered in a USB-C cable. To date we've only seen these extra lanes used for alt mods (e.g DisplayPort and Thunderbolt), but the USB-C cable was always designed with this in mind, and now the necessary controllers are finally catching up.

We're still in the very early days of USB 3.2 Gen2x2 devices, however we're expecting to primarily see Gen2x2 used as an alternative, lower cost option for providing high speed I/O to high-performance DAS devices and similar peripherals. This has traditionally been the domain of Thunderbolt 3, which although faster (40Gbps), requires more expensive controllers as well as more expensive cables. USB 3.2 Gen2x2, on the other hand, works with standard Gen2 USB-C cables, and the actual PHY isn't any more complex than a single USB channel. So it should allow for cheaper I/O to devices that only need upwards of 20Gbps of bandwidth.

GIGABYTE says that the first batch consisting of as many as 100 GC-USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 PCIe expansion cards has already been sold out, and the manufacturer is promising to release a new batch shortly. The company has yet to publish official pricing for the add-in card.

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  • asmian - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    Given the absolute dearth of PCIe slots on the latest mainboards (just 3 on one recent PCIe4 board! And one of those used by the GPU!) I'd hold out for some smart company to release a combo card with many more useful expansion ports like 10GBe or more USB-C included, on more than a x4 card. That seems just a pitiful waste of a valuable slot.
  • rozquilla - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    I agree, I'm also waiting for a "NAS PCIe card", something with a couple of ports of 2.5GBe or higher, and at least four SATA ports, don't know the required lanes, but if they can fill a 16X bandwidth, that would be great for using with a mini itx motherboard.
  • Jorgp2 - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    Why not just get a mini ITX board with that all built in?
  • rrinker - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    It's hard finding a full ATX board that isn't a server board with all that, once you get past all the "using M2.1 disables SATA 1.0 and 1.1" garbage. I want to build a replacement for my aging WHS (which is actually working just fine, problem is cloud backup services are dropping support for server 2008, etc) and I really don;t want to buy all new hard drives (larger but fewer) but it looks like I have to. I'm going to use this for other things as well, so what I want is to put the OS on M2, maybe a pair in RAID 1. 2x2TB SSD for fast cache, and then to be worthwhile (same or more storage than I have now) 3x 8TB or 4x 6TB drives. So that's 6 SATA, 2 M2 that can ALL be used at the same time, and I'd like either 2x 2.5GbE or a single 10GbE since switch costs have come way down. Only my primary desktop would end up getting 2.5GbE, everything else at Gb is more than enough. So - a MB, of any size ATX or smaller, that has 6x SATA (prefer 8x for expansion space) AND 2x M2 AND 10GbE all on board - yeah.... Oh and it would be REALLY awesome if they left off the unnecessary WiFi module and RGB lighting. I really don;t care AMD or Intel, although since the iGPU Ryzens only go up to 4 cores, I guess I'm out of luck. I want 6c/12t or 8c/16t and at least 64GB RAM (again - big storage server but ALSO home lab virtual host).
  • teosoft - Saturday, November 30, 2019 - link

    A single M.2 SSD requires 4 PCIe lanes, so four of these will take entire 16 lanes. There's actually a card made by Asus that does just that, hosts 4 such SSDs. Not only that, it requires PCIe bifurcation, meaning 16 lanes are treated as 4x4 independent ones. Most, but not all motherboards and chisets support bifurcation. And one want to have all these lanes to be CPU lanes, not chipset lanes, to achieve maximum performance. Add a GPU to the mix and you want x299 chipset already.
  • abufrejoval - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    Actually it could just solve your problem. At the moment your only 4x slot is a one-shot: You fill it, it's gone.

    With the 20Gbit USB port you gain flexibility at the price of having to find and pay a matching USB hub (switch, really), which switches that bandwidth into whatever you have downstream. That could be an NVME SSD or three, 10Gbit Ethernet, and various other USB3x devices, oversubscribed but flexible... and a cabling mess perhaps.

    I see USB4 becoming the new PCIe slots... not sure I like it in terms of physical cabling mess (reliability?), but I appreciate the flexibility.

    Perhaps we'll have tower chassis that contain a separate re-wiring and USB hub compartment.
  • lilkwarrior - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    Useless without USB4 or Thundebolt 3.
  • The Von Matrices - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    Only 100 units in a batch? Is this a typo or is Gigabyte not mass-producing these? Surely they expect to sell thousands of these cards at the least.
  • R3MF - Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - link

    i thought this strange too.
  • PeachNCream - Monday, December 2, 2019 - link

    That is a lot of PCB for just one USB connector!

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