usb 3.0.jpg
Picture of a USB 3.0 cable

Last week Intel unveiled USB 3.0 specs that demonstrates how the next generation USB is going to work. USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, is due out in 2009 or 2010. Intel was even kind enough to make the new specification royalty free so that developers don’t have to fork out money just to make devices that utilize the new technology.

What’s so great about USB 3.0 that will make you want to jump on the bandwagon? Here’s a list of some of my favorite features:

  • Faster transfers, duh. USB 3.0 will be able to move data at a mouth-watering 4.8Gbit/s (614MByte/s). That’s 10 times faster than USB 2.0, and the speed difference will definitely be noticeable with larger files. For example, a 27GB movie will take 70-seconds to transfer as opposed to 15-minutes with USB 2.0.
  • Read and write simultaneously. With the current USB technologies devices can’t read and write at the same time, but that’s a thing of the past with USB 3.0.
  • More power output. The power output will be bumped up from 100 milliamps to 900 milliamps. You’ll therefore be able to charge more power-hungry devices at a single time.
  • Power friendly. USB 3.0 will use an interrupt-driven protocol instead of a polling system when the host is looking for traffic. That means your laptop won’t have to waste precious resources trying to see if a connected camera is trying to send data.
  • Backwards compatible. You’ll be able to plug-in a USB 3.0 cable into a USB 2.0 device, and still reap some of the benefits like the new interrupt-driven protocol for conserving power.

Sounds great to me. Some of the things like the faster data transfers will be governed by what your hardware is capable of though. Mechanical hard drives will be one of the biggest limitations for users as they won’t be able to write data faster than USB 3.0 will be able to transfer it. SATA drives capable of 6.0Gbit/s speeds might be out in time for USB 3.0, otherwise we might be relying on solid state drives (SSD) to make the most of the technology.

Checkout Maximum PC for more photos of what the USB 3.0 cable looks like.