With USB 2.0 ports becoming a common as dirt—you’ll find them in everything from mobile phones to DVD players these days—you know the time has come to move on to a new version. And that’s just what the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced today.
USB 3.0 will support data rates as high as 5.0 Gb/sec—rendering the new standard 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Having already dubbed USB 2.0 as “Hi-Speed USB,” however, the group had to come up with a brand-new superlative for USB 3.0. After much discussion, they finally settled on “SuperSpeed USB” (perhaps holding “Ludicrous Speed” in reserve for USB 4.0).
“SuperSpeed USB is the next advancement in ubiquitous technology,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF president and chairman. “Today’s consumers are using rich media and large digital files that need to be easily and quickly transferred from PCs to devices and vice versa. SuperSpeed USB meets the needs of everyone from the tech-savvy executive to the average home user.”
Although USB 3.0 will use a different cable, it will use the same types as connectors and will therefore be backward-compatible (good thing, considering that more than two billion USB devices were shipped in 2006 alone, according to the USB Implementers Forum). Six signals will be carried on a USB 3.0 cable (four for a SuperSpeed data path and two for a non-SuperSpeed data path). USB 2.0 cables carry just two signals for low-speed (1.5Mb/s) and full- and high-speed data paths (12- and 480Mb/s, respectively). The USB 3.0 bus will provide 50 percent more power for unconfigured or suspended devices, and 80 percent more power for configured devices.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group anticipates that SuperSpeed USB discrete controllers will hit the market in the second half 2009, with the first consumer products appearing in 2010. The group expects that data-storage devices such as flash drives, external hard drives, digital cameras and camcorders, and digital media players will be among the earliest USB 3.0 products.