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USB changed the way computers used peripherals in many ways. Though it took years to see good adoption, today just about any device you attach to your PC you can attach via USB. In the early days it was primarily input devices, printers, flash drives and other devices that didn't pass a lot of data. Later on as more uses for USB were realized, many wanted more speed. With the specification upgrade to 2.0, a tremendous boost in capacity made USB hard drives, media players with thousands of files and camcorders much friendlier to use on a PC.
Now, Intel and others have formed the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, pitching the concept of a USB interface that would exceed USB 2.0 by as much as 10 times. Companies such as HP, NEC and Microsoft are in on the game, and just as with the move to USB 2.0 they are calling it an easy move that will be very comfortable for existing devices:
USB (Universal Serial Bus) 3.0 will create a backward-compatible standard with the same ease-of-use and plug and play capabilities of previous USB technologies. 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.
There is no official specification yet for the new interface, and one is not expected until sometime next year. However, it is a logical next step and I look forward to seeing what they come up with. One of the biggest issues with USB storage and other high-traffic USB devices is the relatively lower performance similar devices see with competing interfaces, like Firewire. Part of this has to do with USB in relation to the PCI Bus, and I will be interested to see how they plan to move past these challenges.
Wouldn't it be just fantastic if a USB hard drive could have data copied to it faster than 10kRPM Raptors in a striped array? It would make on the fly data backups a lot easier, for sure.