USB 3.0 Standard Coming

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Tom Keating
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USB 3.0 Standard Coming

USB 3.0 connector prototype

USB 3.0 connector prototype

Intel, Microsoft, and other industry leaders have formed the USB 3.0 Promoter Group to create a superspeed 4Gbps USB 3.0 standard that can deliver over 10 times the speed of today's USB 2.0 connection. The current USB 2.0 version has a top data-transfer rate of 480 megabits per second. Others involved in the technology include HP, NEC Corporation, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments Incorporated, and will target fast sync-and-go transfer applications in the PC, consumer and mobile segments.

Fortunately, USB (Universal Serial Bus) 3.0 will backward-compatible with current USB devices. Targeting over 10x performance increase, the technology will draw from the same architecture of wired USB. In addition, the USB 3.0 specification will be optimized for low power and improved protocol efficiency. USB 3.0 ports and cabling will be designed to enable backward compatibility as well as future-proofing for optical capabilities.

Space Balls - Ludicrous Speed! New USB 3.0 cables with an optical link and a max length of 2-meters will be required to take advantage of the high speed throughput. Wow, fiber optics in the home. Cool! So with this highly touted ludicrous (light) speed, does this spell the death knell for Firewire? In the past, most consumer electronics, especially video camcorders came standard with Firewire. But many have already added USB connectivity. Also, with Apple running on the Intel chipset, USB 3.0 devices should be cross-platform independent between Apple and the Windows operating systems. (and of course Linux). So the need for Firewire becomes redundant.

I should point out that USB already rules the low-to-medium speed device spectrum, including USB-based mice, keyboards, webcams, digital cameras, and a ton of USB gadgets. Heck, most mobile phones I get to test are often charged and sync to a PC via a USB cable. Firewire is pretty much used for high-speed video transfer and external hard drives. But eSATA (external SATA) and USB 2.0 supported external hard drives are eating away at Firewire's market dominance.


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