USB 3.0: All You Need To Know

By on January 3, 2010, 3:05 PM
The Universal Serial Bus standard has come a long way since its introduction in 1996. Backed by a consortium of companies led by Intel, Compaq and Microsoft, it offered some unheard-of features for its time, including the ability to connect peripherals without turning off the computer first and to draw power without a separate AC connection. The standard became popular with the arrival of version 1.1 in late 1998, allowing a maximum transfer rate of 12Mb/s, and as we can witness nowadays just about any device comes standard with 'Hi-Speed' USB 2.0 connectivity.
USB 3.0 is the next major revision of the ubiquitous interface. Dubbed SuperSpeed USB, this new version promises a tenfold leap forward in transfer speeds as well as improved capabilities, all while maintaining compatibility with USB 2.0 devices. In the following few paragraphs we've rounded out all the relevant information that you as a consumer should know about the next-generation USB standard. Read the complete article.




User Comments: 27

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Puiu Puiu said:

If the backwards compatibility is without faults/bugs then i'm sure it will become more popular than USB2.0 currently is.

Guest said:

What were the factors that limited the speed of USB 2.0 before and how did they manage to get past those limits now? In other words, why could those speed and power saving advantages be not possible before with USB rev 2.0 itself?

DarkCobra DarkCobra said:

All interesting but the already developed and up & running "Light Peak Technology" (fiber optic connection wires) will more than likely replace 3.0 in the not too distant future. USB 3.0 has transfer speeds of 3GB whereas Light Peak Technology starts out at 10GB and can go as high as 100GB.

Puiu Puiu said:

DarkCobra said:

All interesting but the already developed and up & running "Light Peak Technology" (fiber optic connection wires) will more than likely replace 3.0 in the not too distant future. USB 3.0 has transfer speeds of 3GB whereas Light Peak Technology starts out at 10GB and can go as high as 100GB.

currently too expensive and USB has the ability to supply the devices with power. intel is still working on that feature for light peak. So, until then, usb3 will be the king. ^_^

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I didn't realize 3.0 was bi-directional. As a wise man once said, "speed is good," so definitely looking forward to 3.0 and will have an eyeball on Light Peak as well.

Good article - thanks!

poundsmack said:

The USB buss was the limiting factor. USB 3.0 however utilized teh PCIe buss and therefor can go much faster as its much harder to saturate the PCI buss

JudaZ said:

All I want to know is USB3.0 going to be as CPU load heavy as USB2.0??

Todays USB today uses alot, and I meen alot of CPU power, just to transfer some files... have this been changed? That is why FireWire still is the better option, no matter what speed the present

Guest said:

USB is here to stay.

I dont believe that every one will jump on the USB 3.0 bandwagon right out of the box, at least until the prices don't drop to the levels the people have been accustomed to with 2.0. since most of what the average user dos today, dosn't need superspeed... Hey, lets face it even USB 1.0 can keep up with my keyboard typing... but yes it will lay the red carpet for the upgrade path from USB 2.0 and guarantee the the standard will maintain its position as the king of the hill when it comes to peripheral connections. Great... i get to keep my 16meg pen drive ... :)

tengeta tengeta said:

Nothing will be using that bandwidth stream up anytime soon, most USB 2.0 devices don't even push their 400Mbps limit.

license27kill license27kill said:

i think i might stick to 2.0 for a while..

since gigabyte only offers the 3.0..

i might have to wait for asus to release 1.

but more or less.. its a 50%-75% incerease in speed..

and we are talking about 90-100mb/s

makes a litle difference.. but not big enough..

--my 2cents..

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

i will probably make sure to include a couple usb3.0 ports on any new computer i build :-)

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have 2 USB connected external hard drives. I would like them to be faster, but since I only use them for backup, I don't really mind all that much. Other than that, the rest of my USB devices (keyboard, mouse, camera) seem to be doing fine at 2.0.

USB 3.0 sounds nice, and when it becomes standard I'm sure I'll buy things that use it like everyone else, but I don't see myself spending any extra money to upgrade anything to USB 3.0

Guest said:

Anyway, whatever it is, it would be nice to have some 3.0s, don't you think :D

mailpup mailpup said:

I use Gigabyte motherboards for most of my builds anyway so my next build will include one with USB 3.0. It doesn't matter that there are few USB 3.0 devices out now. Having the capability increases your options later.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

JudaZ said:

Todays USB today uses alot, and I meen alot of CPU power, just to transfer some files...

'alot' is a relative term, but 4-6% CPU usage for transferring data from an external HDD on a computer that is a few years old is hardly what I consider 'alot'.

I won't deny that Firewire is a better option when compared against USB 2.0... But even if USB 3.0 is equally processor intensive, there's simply no comparison. USB 3.0 will provide faster transfer rates, without question. And in the day of multi-core, multi-Ghz CPUs, several percent worth of CPU cycles is absolutely negligible in nearly any scenario.

I agree that I'd like to see USB 3.0 use less CPU, but I think it is a little silly to make this an argument to continue using (slower and far less prolific) Firewire instead.

Guest said:

USB 3.0 cables will be as thick as an ethernet cable? That doesn't sound very appealing at all.

whiteandnerdy said:

i just bought a new Gigabyte mobo with the new usb ports as futrure insurance.

travis061986 said:

USB 3.0 cables will be as thick as an ethernet cable? That doesn't sound very appealing at all.

Yea.. Ive heard that as well..

CMH, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm planning a build where I use HDDs connected via USB for any data storage (mini-itx: no space for HDD).

In this instance, the faster the transfer, the better. Movies, music, game files, etc will all play off the USB. But then again, the most used files will all stay in the internal drives (which might be SSDs, depending on my mood on the day I buy the comp).

Guest said:

USB 3.0 cables will be as thick as an ethernet cable? That doesn't sound very appealing at all.

Appealing? the extra width is for the extra wires for bi-directional, else it won't be that thick. No offense but for a faster and better features, what's there to be appealed for... i wonder... :)

CMH, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thick cables means it won't be as flexible.

My only problem would be the cost of these cables..... As it is, USB cables are overpriced :S

margaret999 said:

he new standard is physically and functionally backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, and can support devices complying with older specifications. Plug in your old device and it also can work (at the older speed). But if plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 interface, it will ran at a slower speed.

Guest said:

Since USB 3.0 is downward compatible, why are manufacturers adding USB 2.0 inputs to their USB 3.0 equiped computers ? It just makes no sens !

USB 3.0 input can read any other USB input !

Arris Arris said:

Since USB 3.0 is downward compatible, why are manufacturers adding USB 2.0 inputs to their USB 3.0 equiped computers ? It just makes no sens !

USB 3.0 input can read any other USB input !

Motherboard manufacturers being cheap. I think Intel having devised their own standard (light/copper peak) have not included a USB 3.0 controller in their latest chipsets. This leaves it up to the motherboard manufacturers to add a 3rd party USB 3.0 Controller onto the motherboard. The intel chipset will still have USB 2.0 controller in it, so they connect that up and the ports for the 3rd party controller. Probably a controller for more ports costs more than one for just a few hence only finding a couple of ports. Not sure of the situation with the latest AM3+ AMD chipsets and whether or not those incorporate USB 3.0 controllers.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

All I want to know is USB3.0 going to be as CPU load heavy as USB2.0??

Todays USB today uses alot, and I meen alot of CPU power, just to transfer some files... have this been changed? That is why FireWire still is the better option, no matter what speed the present

Firewire to my knowledge has some rather large security issues due to DMA. Just google Adam Boileau. Haven't heard of it getting fixed at all. Also see [link] .

Guest said:

They do speed tests on External hard drives equipped with USB 3?

3 Refer a USB 3.0 HDD.

Guest said:

I see a few cooments in here I'm confused about?

1. DarkCobra said USB 3.0 is 3GB transfer? Searches tell me USB 3.0 promises a theoretical maximum rate of 5Gbps. If DarkCobra is right Big with 3 GB (using a big B meaning Bytes) over the stated 5 Giga bits per second that would be sweet however incorrect in both cases.

2. DarkCobra said, Light Peak Technology" (fiber optic connection wires) will more than likely replace 3.0. Huh, interesting but Dark, can you tell me how practical fiber would be to a home user? Since fiber optices cable core is made of glass and can break fairly easy i do not think this would ever replace twisted pair cable for attaching devices for the basic home user. In a corporate where wire stationary hard drives yes but for my passport never!

3. JudaZ, lol, if FireWire is better why is Apple going from Firewire to USB 3.0? 1 reason not only is USB 3.0 faster, firewire can not provide power to devices like my WD passport the needs power to run supplied through the USB, So you have fun with your left behing firewire.

I'm curious about e-sata. faster then USB 2.0 but then USB 3.0 came out and is faster than e-sata. Is e-sata going to advance or though great new tech it's in the past already?

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