The evolution of the well known Universal Serial Bus, also known simply as USB, continues with the release of the first devices using the new USB 3.0 specification. USB ports are the little rectangular connectors on all computers that are used to connect everything from printers, scanners and plotters to mice, keyboards, external hard disk drives and flash memory drives to Blackberrys, iPhones, iPods and digital cameras. Plus a whole host of other devices. USB connectors are about to get an upgrade with the official release of USB 3.0 – USB’s next generation.
USB 3.0 – Important Facts:
USB 3.0 devices are just starting to come to market, so there is no need to get anxious over upgrading your computers and peripheral devices. However 2010 will bring a significant growth in computers and devices with USB 3.0 ports. In the meantime this tech tip will provide some helpful USB 3.0 introductory points for getting up to speed:
- The USB 3.0 specification became official in November 2008.
- Most desktop and laptop computer peripheral devices today use connection ports meeting the USB 2.0 spec.
- USB 3.0 provides a maximum data transfer rate of up to 4.8 Gbps or 10 times the speed of USB 2.0.
- USB 3.0 = USB 2.0 X 10
- USB 3.0 will be completely backwardly compatible with the current USB 2.0, much like USB 2.0 is backwardly compatible with the earlier USB 1.0 & 1.1 specifications.
- USB 3.0 will require a new type of cable to get the maximum transfer speed.
- To utilize the full USB 3.0 transfer speed there will need to be USB 3.0 ports on both the computer and the peripheral device (hard disk drive, video camera, phone, etc.).
- USB 3.0 ports on external devices will be backwardly compatible with USB 2.0 ports and cables – they will just work at the older USB 2.0 speed (480mbps instead of 4.8gbps).
- Computers and devices with USB 3.0 will begin shipping in volume in 2010.
- ASUS is currently shipping the first computer motherboard with USB 3.0 ports.
- USB 3.0 is also being referred to as “SuperSpeed” USB. Ya gotta have a marketing angle.
- Full-duplex data transfers are part of the USB 3.0 specification; a step up from the half-duplex mode of USB 2.0
- The tenfold increase in data transfer speed is accomplished by increasing the number of wires used for transfer from 4 wires to 9 wires and utilizing a scheme for more efficient handling of data traffic.
- USB 1.0 was released in 1996 and offered a data transfer rate of 14mbps
- USB 2.0 was released in 2000 and provides a maximum data transfer rate of 480mbps.
Higher Power Levels for Attached Devices
USB 3.0 also has additional advantage in areas such as providing power to attached devices. USB ports can transfer not only information but also electricity to peripherals. USB 3.0 can provide a higher level of power than USB 2.0 plus it also has an advanced power management scheme that uses less power when attached devices are not active.
Some examples that have been given to illustrate the raw data transfer speed of USB 3.0 include being able to transfer a 20 GB high-definition movie between a peripheral device and a PC in less than 70 seconds or transfer a 4 MB song in less than a hundredth of a second. Pretty speedy. Time will tell how these examples measure out in real world use.
USB 3.0 - New Technology Adoption
It is never easy to predict how quickly a new technology will catch on. Take netbook computers for example. When netbooks were first introduced many people thought they were more of a fad and would fizzle out. Now netbooks are the fastest growing computer segment. My bet is that USB 3.0 will catch on in a relatively short amount of time as people and businesses are moving increasingly larger amounts of data between computers and external devices. The next generation may just take root rapidly.
For additional USB 3.0 info check out EverythingUSB.com which has more details on the USB 3.0 spec as well as new USB 3.0 devices.