Its development in 1996 would soon become, according to some tech magazines, one of the greatest PC innovations of all time. It can be found in all of today’s computers, and just about all new electronic devices are also compatible. Yes, it’s that little port we plug into and use to transfer data, charge our mobile devices, or even rock out or play video games.
Although it has taken eight years for an upgrade, the Universal Serial Bus, or USB, landscape is about to dramatically change with USB 3.0, or USB Superspeed. Hard-drive maker Seagate and semiconductor startup Symwave demonstrated USB 3.0 at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with astounding results. For starters, USB 3.0 offers speeds roughly 10 times faster than its 2.0 counterpart, or up to 4.8 gigabits per second. For example, the transfer speed rate of a 27GB movie with USB 3.0 will only take 70 seconds, while USB 2.0 would take 15 minutes or more.
USB 3.0 will be available to the public in the fourth quarter of 2009.
The USB has come a long way since its development from a collective collaboration of core companies that consisted of Intel, Compaq, Microsoft, Digital, IBM, and North Telecom. Its one upgrade, USB 2.0, otherwise known as USB Hi-Speed, allows data transfer rates from 1.5 megabits per second to 480 megabits per second.
The innovation of USB 3.0 lies in the design of the new connectors. Instead of using four lines, two for in/out data transfer, one for power, and the last as a ground, the new cable adds an additional five lines. These new lines give USB 3.0 its real juice, transmitting and receiving data. Unlike USB 2.0, which could only handle data transfer in one direction, 3.0 will be able to read and write at the same time from your portable storage device. For this to work, of course, you must have a compatible device or port, but if you accidentally plug a 3.0 cable into a noncompatible 3.0 device, it is backward-compatible, so it will still function.
If you constantly use USB to charge your PDA or other devices, 3.0 is going to give you that boost you need. The power output jumps from 100 milliamps to a whopping 900 milliamps. That gives you the ability to power more than four devices from a single hub. It will also allow you to charge devices quicker and support larger consumers of energy.
Is your business green? USB 3.0 is more power-efficient because it abandons device polling and favors a new interrupt-driven protocol, which basically means that any nonactive or idle running device won’t have its power drained by a host controller as it looks for active data traffic. Instead the host will be sent a signal when data transfer is required.