USB 3.0: Five Things You Need to Know

The first devices began hitting stores this year, and a flood of new products is expected to follow

USB-perhaps the most successful, versatile computer interface yet-is getting a major overhaul. The third version brings big improvements, including higher speeds and better power management. The first devices began hitting stores this year, and a flood of new products is expected to follow. Adoption of USB 3.0 could bring an end to interfaces that use serial ports like e-SATA, which, while fast, require an additional power cable.

IT'S FAST. USB 3.0 features an extra set of pins that creates a faster data bus capable of supporting real-world speeds of between 3.2 and 4 gigabits per second. That makes it about 10 times as fast as today's USB 2.0 and comparable to using serial ports. A fully Ã'­bidirectional bus means that data can be sent and received at the same time, further boosting performance. To reflect this, equipment makers have dubbed the new version "SuperSpeed."

IT'S BACKWARD COMPATIBLE. USB 3.0 sockets are designed to accept today's plugs and cables, they'll just operate at USB 2.0 speeds. To get the faster performance, you'll have to use new cables between compatible devices. Consequently, USB 3.0 will take over the external-drive market by 2013 and ship in 225 million flash disks in 2014, predicts In-Stat.

IT'S SMART ON POWER. USB 3.0 increases the power available via a USB connection by 50 percent to 150 milliAmps, but that doesn't necessarily mean your laptop battery will run down faster. Whereas the current USB protocol keeps devices powered and ready at all times, USB 3.0 has superior power-management capabilities that allow unused devices to enter idle, sleep and suspend modes, cutting down on power consumption.

IT'S NOT EVERYWHERE. Support for USB 3.0 was added to the Linux kernel last September, and the first hardware controllers and devices appeared at this year's Consumer Electronics Show show in January. But it's still an emerging technology. Microsoft hasn't implemented it in Windows yet, though it's rumored to be coming soon in the first service pack for Windows 7. Intel doesn't plan to support it until 2011.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags peripheralshardwareUSB 3.0hardware systemsHardware | Peripherals

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?