USB 3.0 

USB 3.0

Discover The Future of USB with The USB 3.0 Specification

USB 3.0 is a new specification for USB known as USB SuperSpeed. The new specification has made many improvements on the USB 2.0 specification. One of the main improvements is the speed of data transfer. The speed of USB 3.0 surpasses existing USB specifications, eSATA, and IEEE-1394.

What should you know about USB 3.0?

Currently there is a limited number of USB 3.0 devices on the market. First generation USB 3.0 devices will not be capable of full throughput. Hardware and chipsets have not yet reached the full potential of the USB 3.0 specification. Also, overhead from protocol, hardware limitations, and chipset limitations prevent file transfer at 4.8Gbps. The "real world" transfer rate will be the throughput, which is 600Mbps. It is also important to note that USB 3.0 utilizes new connector types. These new connectors will not work with older USB 2.0 & 1.1 devices.

Which applications is USB 3.0 suited for?

USB 3.0 is ideal for data transfer from large mass storage devices. A few examples would be transferring data from a large hard drive, HD video for video editing, Blu-Ray authoring, or high resolution photos for editing and storage.

USB 3.0 Diagram

What is USB 3.0?

USB 3.0 is a new specification released by the USB implementation forum (USB-IF) which provides improved features and performance over the existing USB 2.0 specification. The new specification provides a data rate of 4.8Gbps along with increased power to assist with demanding devices such as external mass storage. More information regarding USB 3.0 can be found at the USB-IF website.

What's driving its release?

The growth of new technology has made the existing USB 2.0 specification inadequate to fully support demanding devices. Mass storage drives in the Terabyte size range promote a challenge for the USB 2.0 speed rating of 480Mbps as large amounts of data would take a great deal of time to transfer. USB 3.0 offers an increased speed rating of 4.8Gbps allowing quicker file transfers. Another limitation with USB 2.0 is the amount of power that is supplied to devices. The power output of the past specification was sufficient for most devices; however the power demands of USB mass storage has reached the limits of the 2.0 specification capacity. To meet that demand the USB 3.0 specification has increased available power to devices reducing the need for dual USB splitter cables.

When will it be released?

The specification for USB 3.0 was released in the fall of 2008. Products for USB 3.0 are currently available for mass storage devices, cables, motherboards and host controllers.

What equipment on the market is currently using USB 3.0?

Mass storage devices, cables, motherboards and host controllers are currently available. As the technology matures other devices, such as camcorders and cameras, will use USB 3.0 to benefit from the increased bandwidth.

What are the key benefits of using 3.0?

USB 3.0 has several key benefits over the existing USB 2.0 specification such as:

  • 4.8Gbps data rate
  • Increased power for demanding devices (900mA)
  • Improved power management for idle devices

Will it be backwards compatible?

Yes, USB 3.0 devices can be connected using existing cables and host controllers, however you will not receive the benefits of increased speed and power efficiency. Be aware that some USB 3.0 cables will not fit with existing USB 2.0 devices due to the physical size of the new connectors.

Is there a difference in how it will be marketed?

Yes, USB 3.0 devices and cables will be marketed as "USB SuperSpeed". Devices with the USB 2.0 specification will continue to be marketed as "USB High Speed".

Will my existing USB cables work with new 3.0 devices?

Yes, the connection on most USB 3.0 devices will accept existing cables however; you will not receive the benefits of increased speed and power efficiency.

Will I require a USB 3.0 host controller to connect USB 3.0 devices?

No, you will still have the ability to connect new 3.0 devices to your existing controller however; you will not receive the benefits of increased speed and power efficiency.

Will USB 3.0 cables work with existing USB 2.0 devices?

Not all USB 3.0 cables will work since some of the connectors are physically different.

Why are USB drives stating 300-600Mbps transfer rates with USB 3.0? I thought USB 3.0 had a speed rating of 4.8Gbps.

The connection speed is not indicative of the real world rates that are achieved. In its infancy, USB 3.0 devices and controllers will not achieve full speed potential. This is due to limitations with drive read and write capabilities, computer bus, and overhead which prohibits achieving a full 4.8 Gbps. Although this may seem disappointing, in reality USB 3.0 offers faster data rates compared to USB 2.0; For example, a 3.82 GB file on a 2.0 bus can take approximately 2 minutes to transfer from an external hard drive. That same file would take less than 50 seconds on a USB 3.0 setup.

Which devices benefit from USB 3.0?

Mass storage devices will benefit the most from the USB 3.0 improved speed rating. Other devices such as cameras and camcorders will be introduced later into the market allowing the easy transfer of HD content.

How can I identify a USB 3.0 connection on a computer or device?

A USB 3.0 connection will be blue in color making it easy to identify. Cabling includes a connector that is blue in color to easily identify them.

Is their a way of adding USB 3.0 ports to a computer that does not currently possess them?

Yes, computers can be upgraded to USB 3.0 by installing a host controller card to any available PCI express 1x slot on the computer's motherboard. Laptop computers can also be upgraded by installing a USB 3.0 ExpressCard to an available socket.

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