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USB 3.1 Spec Approved, Brings 10Gbps Speeds

By - Source: USB-IF | B 35 comments

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced on Wednesday (pdf) that the USB 3.1 specification is complete and will raise the SuperSpeed USB transfer rate up to 10 Gbps. The current USB 3.0 spec in use has a limit of 5 Gbps, thus the latest release not only doubles what's available now on installed USB 3.0 ports, but makes SuperSpeed USB more competitive with Intel's Thunderbolt technology.

Unfortunately, the news doesn't mean current USB 3.0 ports will get an injection of speed. The new spec will be fully backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, but only new ports manufactured with the USB 3.1 spec will be able to take advantage of the new speed limit. When ODMs will implement the new spec into their designs is unknown at this point.

"The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps," said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. "The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development."

Despite the USB 3.1 boost, Thunderbolt is still faster thanks to a speed injection of its own to 20 Gbps. It also enables daisy chaining, whereas USB supports hubs that route several connected USB peripherals through one port. While Intel has been heavily pushing the Thunderbolt tech as a high-speed I/O alternative since it was first launched in February 2011, adoption has been rather slow.

Back in 2012, Acer became the first PC maker to adopt Intel's Thunderbolt technology. But the company said just last month that it has dropped the tech from its designs, and will focus on USB 3.0 instead. It was presumed that Acer was well aware that USB 3.1 was nearing completion and planned to use the newer SuperSpeed tech rather than the more expensive Thunderbolt.

"We're really focusing on USB 3.0 -- it's an excellent alternative to Thunderbolt," said Acer spokeswoman Ruth Rosene. "It's less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals."

Meanwhile, Intel seems to be supporting the new USB 3.1 spec despite its Thunderbolt efforts. "The industry has affirmed the strong demand for higher through-put, for user-connected peripherals and docks, by coming together to produce a quality SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps specification," said Alex Peleg, Vice President, Intel Architecture Group. "Intel is fully committed to deliver on this request."

Developer conferences regarding USB 3.1 will take place in Hillsboro, Oregon (Aug. 21), Dublin, Ireland (Oct. 1-2) and a two-day session during December in Asia. Additional information about these conferences can be found on the USB-IF website.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    kajunchicken , August 1, 2013 4:49 PM
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    smeezekitty , August 1, 2013 4:30 PM
    Since for the most part we are yet to saturate USB 3.0, this isn't a problem.
  • 1 Hide
    vern72 , August 1, 2013 4:46 PM
    Agreed. I'm not going to swap out my 3.0 ports for 3.1.... for now.
  • 1 Hide
    skit75 , August 1, 2013 4:48 PM
    It seems, at least according to Tom's USB 3.0 jump drive comparison a couple weeks ago, that manufactures have also failed to deliver on the lower end peripherals. This hasn't stopped many of them from plastering USB 3.0 on the product though.
  • 27 Hide
    kajunchicken , August 1, 2013 4:49 PM
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?
  • 8 Hide
    nevilence , August 1, 2013 4:56 PM
    damn technology you fast >< i only just got usb 3.0 on a new rig, now there is 3.1 lol
  • 8 Hide
    JPNpower , August 1, 2013 5:30 PM
    Wow wow. hold up man...

    "Backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0"

    In other words, no compatibility with USB 1.X?
  • 7 Hide
    ipwn3r456 , August 1, 2013 5:50 PM
    Quote:
    Wow wow. hold up man...

    "Backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0"

    In other words, no compatibility with USB 1.X?


    Yeah it didn't say it on the article. It doesn't really make sense to be not compatible with USB 1.x. But really, I don't think anyone, if not, rarely uses USB 1.x these days.
  • 3 Hide
    JPNpower , August 1, 2013 5:52 PM
    Anybody with a usb 1.x as standard for their PC is crazy. But I can think of many cases where I'd like to quickly edit a word doc or something on an old computer I can borrow.
  • 4 Hide
    jimmysmitty , August 1, 2013 5:55 PM
    Quote:
    Since for the most part we are yet to saturate USB 3.0, this isn't a problem.


    Yes we are actually with eHDDs that is. USB is great for mice, keyboards and such but for data transfers it sucks like no other. With USB its one hub that controls all the ports. If you connect 1 flash drive, you get the maximum speed. But add more and each one slows down.

    Sata on the other hand is a per channel setup which means each sata channel gets the full 3Gbps/6Gbps. My eSATA dock gives my WD Black transfer rates of 150-200MB/s while the best my USB 3.0 eHDD gets is 100MB/s. Thunderbolt as well is the same way. Each TB port is its own channel allowing each one to give 10Gbps bidirectional or 20Gbps on the newest one.

    I want it to drop in price of course but USB sucks for data transfers compared to eSATA/TB. Its just not efficient.
  • 4 Hide
    nevilence , August 1, 2013 6:24 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Since for the most part we are yet to saturate USB 3.0, this isn't a problem.


    Yes we are actually with eHDDs that is. USB is great for mice, keyboards and such but for data transfers it sucks like no other. With USB its one hub that controls all the ports. If you connect 1 flash drive, you get the maximum speed. But add more and each one slows down.

    Sata on the other hand is a per channel setup which means each sata channel gets the full 3Gbps/6Gbps. My eSATA dock gives my WD Black transfer rates of 150-200MB/s while the best my USB 3.0 eHDD gets is 100MB/s. Thunderbolt as well is the same way. Each TB port is its own channel allowing each one to give 10Gbps bidirectional or 20Gbps on the newest one.

    I want it to drop in price of course but USB sucks for data transfers compared to eSATA/TB. Its just not efficient.


    You are right, it does suck compared to the other two, but usb hdds arent about to disappear, so a speed increase is good no matter how you look at it
  • 3 Hide
    vmem , August 1, 2013 7:36 PM
    hmm, new port new mobo... cmon Intel, still holding on to good ol' Sandy here. give me something good and I'll have lots of reason to upgrade in 2014
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , August 1, 2013 8:21 PM
    It didn't say when this will actually be released to consumer products. so i'm guessing you won't start seeing usb 3.1 in pc's for another year from the spec completion date, like with usb 3.0 when the specs were finally finalized you didn't see products with usb 3.0 until a year later.
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , August 1, 2013 8:33 PM
    $425 to go to the conference? Yikes. http://www.usb.org/developers/events/USB_3_1_DD/
  • 2 Hide
    smeezekitty , August 1, 2013 8:54 PM
    Quote:

    Yes we are actually with eHDDs that is. USB is great for mice, keyboards and such but for data transfers it sucks like no other. With USB its one hub that controls all the ports. If you connect 1 flash drive, you get the maximum speed. But add more and each one slows down.

    Sata on the other hand is a per channel setup which means each sata channel gets the full 3Gbps/6Gbps. My eSATA dock gives my WD Black transfer rates of 150-200MB/s while the best my USB 3.0 eHDD gets is 100MB/s. Thunderbolt as well is the same way. Each TB port is its own channel allowing each one to give 10Gbps bidirectional or 20Gbps on the newest one.

    I want it to drop in price of course but USB sucks for data transfers compared to eSATA/TB. Its just not efficient.

    Perhaps but I find it hard to believe that you would be running so many high bandwidth devices at once.
    And in general USB hard drives are used for secondary (or tertiary) storage and thus doesn't need to be that fast.

    I have an external USB 2.0 drive. Big file transfers are painful but overall it works well enough. I am sure USB 3.0 would seem much better.
  • 1 Hide
    nevilence , August 1, 2013 9:18 PM
    Quote:

    I have an external USB 2.0 drive. Big file transfers are painful but overall it works well enough. I am sure USB 3.0 would seem much better.
    [/quote]

    when i went from 2.0 to 3.0 it blew my mind, if 3.1 is double 3.0, there goes my mind again
  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , August 1, 2013 9:48 PM
    My USB 3.0 is Nowhere near 5gbps and I don't think 3.1 will help much since there is a big bottleneck someplace.
    Dude, where's my speed? Even these tricks only help a little.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/usb-3-uas-turbo,3215.html
  • -2 Hide
    lp231 , August 1, 2013 9:51 PM
    Quote:
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?

    Your better off just getting a laptop with the best dedicated graphics your money can buy.
    External GPU is stupid because it requires a external monitor to work instead of using the laptop screen.
  • 1 Hide
    enewmen , August 1, 2013 10:06 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?

    Your better off just getting a laptop with the best dedicated graphics your money can buy.
    External GPU is stupid because it requires a external monitor to work instead of using the laptop screen.


    That's the point. Many want a lightweight notebook to carry around. Then when they go home or to the office, plug it in a docking station with a high-power graphics card and a large monitor. Get the best of a notebook and a desktop.
  • 0 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , August 2, 2013 1:42 AM
    Quote:
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?


    Actually there is a device that allows you to use a desktop video card externally with your laptop, its not mobile at all but if you need the power google it, Tom's did a review of their product years ago so I don't know if they're still around.
  • -1 Hide
    1zacster , August 2, 2013 1:45 AM
    AAAAND thunderbolt is now useless.
    mac pro is now useless.
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