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USB 3.1 Spec Approved, Brings 10Gbps Speeds

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.

  • smeezekitty
    Since for the most part we are yet to saturate USB 3.0, this isn't a problem.
    Reply
  • vern72
    Agreed. I'm not going to swap out my 3.0 ports for 3.1.... for now.
    Reply
  • skit75
    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.
    Reply
  • kajunchicken
    Please can we start having external gpu's for laptops...?
    Reply
  • nevilence
    damn technology you fast >< i only just got usb 3.0 on a new rig, now there is 3.1 lol
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    Wow wow. hold up man...

    "Backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0"

    In other words, no compatibility with USB 1.X?
    Reply
  • ipwn3r456
    11270962 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • JPNpower
    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.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    11270689 said:
    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.
    Reply
  • nevilence
    11271075 said:
    11270689 said:
    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
    Reply