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USB 3.0 specification finalised

USB 3.0 specification finalised

The new USB specification promises to shift 25GB in a speedy 70 seconds - so long as the device on the other end can cope.

If you're a frequent user of external drives, you'll be only too aware that – while representing a massive improvement over the original 12Mb/s spec – USB 2.0 can leave you waiting longer than you'd like to transfer your precious data. That time could be drastically reduced in the near future, as the USB 3.0 specification has finally been finalised.

The USB Promoter Group officially finalised the “SuperSpeed” specification due to replace USB 2.0 yesterday, and is due to announce it officially during a conference on Monday with partners Intel, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, and NEC.

Although actual products aren't due until at least the end of 2009 – at which point “initial SuperSpeed USB discrete controllers will appear,” followed in 2010 by “devices [including] data storage devices such as flash (solid-state drives), external hard drives, digital music players, and digital cameras” - there's certainly a lot to look forward too.

The “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0 specification, as finalised, offers data transfer rates of up to ten times that offered by “High Speed” USB 2.0. To use figures quoted by Microsoft during the WinHEC 2008 conference, the new specification will transfer 25GB of data – co-incidentally the average size of a high-definition film – in around seventy seconds, compared to about fourteen minutes for USB 2.0 and a yawnsome nine hours for the original USB spec.

The news isn't all good, however. Because the specification has taken so long to finalise, many companies are wary regarding implementation: Microsoft itself has told developers to hold fire until the technology has proven itself, and has said that it will not be including support for the technology in Windows 7 when it ships. Even when USB 3.0 support is added, the company hasn't yet decided whether it will only be on offer in the then-latest Windows version or whether to offer the same functionality to previous versions of Windows including Vista and XP.

So long as the technology gets support from software and hardware developers alike, the future of external media could be very speedy indeed. However, USB 2.0 hardware was launched in 2001 and the only other general connectivity standard - Firewire (b) 800MBit - hasn't exactly seen a large adoption.

Tempted to become an early adopter of USB 3.0 technology, or are you still hoping that rival Firewire will bring out the big guns and knock the new spec into a cocked hat? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

15 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
ch424 18th November 2008, 11:06 Quote
Is it just the hardware that's faster, or has the protocol changed?
plagio 18th November 2008, 11:24 Quote
How about the voltages USB 3.0 can give to devices ? Will it be 5v like USB2 ?
Just wondering whether external devices will still require a power supply.
Bindibadgi 18th November 2008, 12:15 Quote
I've no idea about the voltages tbh - I thought it was an optical connection. I think it's probably still 5V if they do include a power line.
UrbanMarine 18th November 2008, 13:39 Quote
The transfer rate for USB3 is sick. 25gb in 70s.
mclean007 18th November 2008, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
I've no idea about the voltages tbh - I thought it was an optical connection. I think it's probably still 5V if they do include a power line.
Yeah, it will be. It's backwards compatible to USB2/1.1/1.0 so it has the same power pins. Whether external devices need additional power is really a question of their current requirements rather than voltage. For example, mice, keyboards, thumb drives, some 2.5" external HDDs, scanners, webcams, wireless adaptors etc. generally don't need external power supplies because they have low current requirements, whereas heavier duty things like printers, most 3.5" drives and so on do need external power supplies because they need more current than the (IIRC) 1.5 amps that a single USB connector provides.
mclean007 18th November 2008, 13:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanMarine
The transfer rate for USB3 is sick. 25gb in 70s.
Yeah, except find me a disk that can stream data at that speed! Always good to remove a bottleneck though.
Gareth Halfacree 18th November 2008, 14:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
[...] more current than the (IIRC) 1.5 amps that a single USB connector provides.
500mA in the current (excuse the pun) USB spec.
Fused 18th November 2008, 16:54 Quote
I think take up maybe slow mainly because this time round a lot more people have a lot more usb devices. While I welcome the speed increase I don't have any real need to replace my usb2 external hard drives yet so I won't be buying into USB3 until I eventually get a new motherboard which comes with it as standard. Of course If I replace my motherboard in the time between now and its general release (to take advantage of Core I7 or whatnot) It could be even longer.

I suppose it will benefit some who regularly make large data transfers through USB or stream via USB but as a whole I don't think the extra speed is really needed just yet. My patience can last a little longer.

Its good progress though (encase you all think I'm being too negative)
zimbloggy 18th November 2008, 17:57 Quote
You know you're a geek if you get excited about this... which I kind of am excited about this.
mclean007 18th November 2008, 18:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
[...] more current than the (IIRC) 1.5 amps that a single USB connector provides.
500mA in the current (excuse the pun) USB spec.
Thanks. Trustedreviews says the available current is increased to 900 mA with USB 3, so maybe we will see fewer power cables with more devices able to lose their wall-wart power bricks (though these have thankfully been getting much smaller recently - the charger for my Nokia N95 8GB is smaller than a standard UK plug!). They also say USB 2.0 offers "approximately 100 mA" though, so don't know how much to believe their figures. 900 mA would be odd - why not 1,000?

Link - http://www.trustedreviews.com/peripherals/news/2008/08/19/USB-3-0-Fully-Detailed/p1
Anakha 18th November 2008, 23:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
They also say USB 2.0 offers "approximately 100 mA" though, so don't know how much to believe their figures. 900 mA would be odd - why not 1,000?

As I understand it, USB offers up to 100mA for non-negotiated links (So, just plugging 2 wires into V+ and GND in a USB socket). For negotiated links (Where there is a device on the line), maximum draw is 250mA for passive ports (Unpowered hubs) and 500mA from active ports (Powered hubs/root hub).

My understanding may not be correct, however.
Darkefire 19th November 2008, 00:15 Quote
So we have High Speed USB 2.0, and now Super Speed USB 3.0. Do they really need to bother with the "*** Speed" nicknames, the specification is to computer connections what Kleenex is to tissues. I eagerly await USB 8.0, "Ultra Mega Hyper Speed". Sounds like a bad Power Rangers attack.
Sparrowhawk 19th November 2008, 02:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by zimbloggy
You know you're a geek if you get excited about this... which I kind of am excited about this.

I'm excited by this in the prospect of a bunch of cheap USB 3.0 thumbdrives instead of a traditional hard drive in something like a netbook.
metarinka 19th November 2008, 04:28 Quote
as of now I don't thionk many users have a need for such throughput, but of course that's future proofing a bit because in 2014 when it's still around 250gb/s might seem a little limiting. In the sound production world USb 2.0 is sometimes known for having bad latency which was more important than transfer speed as that was rarely ever reached. I guess I could see implementation of things like usb 3.0 gigabit ethernet and other protocols that have the potential for high burst speeds.
[USRF]Obiwan 19th November 2008, 11:12 Quote
So in the future I can stream/edit on the fly from the hdd camcorder?
Oh wait. I probably have to buy a new camcorder also.. damn..
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