USB 3.1 Tested: Performance On MSI's X99A Gaming 9 ACK

The Fastest USB 3.0 Thumb Drive And CPU Utilization

At least for now, USB 3.1-capable client devices are non-existent. And it’s going to be hard to sell enthusiasts on the merits of early adoption without anything to attach. That’s why we took the fastest USB 3.0 thumb drive in our lab, Patriot’s 256GB Supersonic Magnum, and hooked it up to three different controllers.

The same 36.7GB of large media files were loaded onto the Supersonic Magnum and then written off to a 40GB RAM disk. Connected to ASMedia’s USB 3.1 controller, this task took 148 seconds. Intel’s PCH-based USB 3.0 logic was slightly slower at 150 seconds. VIA’s single-lane, four-port VL805 posted a 158-second result.

We’re in that territory where the performance delta is measurable, but not significant enough to warrant a strong opinion. Still, it’s nice to see a third-party controller tacked on through PCI Express out-mode Intel’s integrated USB 3.0 solution, if only by a couple of seconds.

Patriot’s Supersonic Magnum is an eight-channel thumb drive rated for 260MB/s reads and 160MB/s writes. That extra bit of read performance gave ASMedia’s USB 3.1 controller a slight advantage in the previous chart. But a lower ceiling puts ASMedia and Intel at the same level when it comes to writing 36.7GB of information to the thumb drive.And yet, both controllers continue to trounce VIA’s alternative.

CPU Utilization

Alright, so even the fastest USB 3.0 thumb drives don’t get much benefit from a USB 3.1 controller. What other performance-oriented could the new standard offer? Going back to the ASMedia developer board (which, yes, means waiting for USB 3.1-capable client devices), we wanted to look at CPU utilization during a big file transfer.

Interestingly, Intel’s USB 3.0 controller writes to the array of striped SSDs at about 220MB/s, completely utilizing one logical core on our Core i7-5930K, giving us roughly 11% total utilization. Meanwhile, the ASM1142 realizes ~500MB/s and monopolizes a fraction of one logical core, returning 5% total utilization.

USB 3.0 transfer: 11% utilizationUSB 3.0 transfer: 11% utilizationUSB 3.1 transfer: 5% utilizationUSB 3.1 transfer: 5% utilization

So even if there aren’t any USB 3.1-enabled devices on the market yet, it appears that there’s a reason other than throughput to anticipate greater availability. After all, the only thing better than a faster interface is more speed and improved efficiency.

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    Top Comments
  • Tom Delco
    I remember when Thomas Pabst, founder of TomsHardware.com, called USB the "useless serial bus!" Man, was he wrong. Some guys have no vision!
    Tom DelConte
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)

    I'd say they'll come about the same time we get Firewire ZIP disk drives.
  • razor512
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)
  • Other Comments
  • Tom Delco
    I remember when Thomas Pabst, founder of TomsHardware.com, called USB the "useless serial bus!" Man, was he wrong. Some guys have no vision!
    Tom DelConte
  • Eggz
    Always stoked for better interfaces. As the wise Kool-Aid Man would say, "Oooooh yeah!"
  • jtd871
    Would it kill you to use consistent units for reporting results?! The 1st two charts on page 2 are MB/s while the third is time (seconds). I understand that it's easier to report the time for the file copy, but it wouldn't have been too difficult to calculate and report an approximate average transfer rate.
  • qlum
    I think getting a faster usb3.1 port in the rear while having 3 sets of similar looking ports with different speeds is bound to cause confusion so unless you permanently have a fast device plugged into the fastest point Id say its a waste. Personally I use 1/2 usb 3 devices max and usually in the front which I regularly switch out so really quite useless in most cases.
  • razor512
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)

    I'd say they'll come about the same time we get Firewire ZIP disk drives.
  • dstarr3
    Does USB 3.1 address the issue that 3.0 has with wireless receiver interference?
  • SteelCity1981
    usb 3.1 will be a slow adaption. heck usb 2.0 still floods the market let alone usb 3.0. it's been what in the past year that we are finally starting to se usb 30 start to become the norm in devices now????
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    usb 3.1 will be a slow adaption. heck usb 2.0 still floods the market let alone usb 3.0. it's been what in the past year that we are finally starting to se usb 30 start to become the norm in devices now????

    That's largely due to consumer realities. USB3 only makes sense when transferring massive data loads. What devices actually need to do that? Mass storage, and that's it. Now compare storage devices to the number of every other USB device available. Your keyboards and mice still operate at USB 1.1. Printers, scanners, and office peripherals are still on 2.0 ( some possibly still on 1.1, ) and they can't even saturate that pipe. USB network adapters work just fine at 2.0 speeds. And the vast majority of flash drives today are still used to save a few office documents, pictures, and other small files. Incredibly few people are hauling around Windows install ISOs or large drive images on their thumb drives.
  • SteelCity1981
    I see that intel is still heavily investing in thunderbolt, which is prob why they aren't putting native usb 3.1 support on their chipsets for the next two generations reminds me of usb 3.0 all over again with intel.
  • Lucid Renegade
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)

    I'd say they'll come about the same time we get Firewire ZIP disk drives.


    Where are they then?

    http://www.amazon.com/Iomega-Zip-750MB-Firewire-Drive/dp/B00006JN09/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1W5KW88VBMYTYB790E1R
  • Lakitu
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    When are going to see USB 3.1 external 3.5 inch floppy drives? :)

    I'd say they'll come about the same time we get Firewire ZIP disk drives.


    Where are they then?

    http://www.amazon.com/Iomega-Zip-750MB-Firewire-Drive/dp/B00006JN09/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1W5KW88VBMYTYB790E1R


    I was going to reply that I had found several on amazon, until I looked at the USB version. Surprisingly they're all USB 2.0... I guess the market and need isn't high enough to warrant making them USB 3.0?

    Let's be honest, do you really need USB 3.0 speeds copying over 1.44 MB of data?
  • qlum
    More importantly I higly doubt those drives would support more then usb1 transferspeeds themselves
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I'd say they'll come about the same time we get Firewire ZIP disk drives.


    Where are they then?

    http://www.amazon.com/Iomega-Zip-750MB-Firewire-Drive/dp/B00006JN09/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1W5KW88VBMYTYB790E1R

    Well played. No, I didn't bother checking if those things were actually made. I thought it was too ridiculous of an idea. ;)
  • falchard
    MSI is such an amazing company. I hope they never become larger than ASUS. I don't want them to be held up providing for the consumer market.
  • photonboy
    USB 3 cables:
    There are now THREE different cables:

    1) Same connection as USB2 but colored blue

    2) USB3 connector changed on device side to prevent USB2 cables being used as some would cause problems for fast USB3 devices

    3) USB3.1 changes connector yet again on device side, again to avoid slower rated cables (USB2 or USB3.0) from being used.

    Other:
    I noticed I got up to 140MB/second using a USB3 HDD in a USB3 connection and only 32MB/second if connecting to USB2. I thought it would max out the 60MB/second bandwidth so it appears the USB hard drive must have both USB2 and USB3 sata converter chips and it uses the much slower one when USB2 is detected.
  • zodiacfml
    queue depth of 1, why test an SSD with such?
    awesome bandwidth though. i reckon the upgrade is for keeping up with almost similar standards ( DP, MHL, and competing with WiFi) which could be used to drive higher resolution displays in the future
  • ccampy
    There's not multiple types of cables USB 2.0 and 3.0 cables are identical they don't have to be blue to be 3.0 they are unchanged cables wise there's only the different type of conecters A B and the new universal C type
  • Joe Black
    These mixed version mobos are annoying. I bought a board with mostly USB2, but 2x USB3 and its a great board - I still have it and it works just dandy, but it is annoying to hunt for the USB3 ports when I plug my portables in.
  • qlum
    I tend to fill up all the 2.0s anyway with webcam, mouse and some other stuff so I can only plug into usb3 in the back.