More info on USB 3.0 emerges

More info on USB 3.0 emerges

Summary: MaximumPC has posted some detailed information on USB 3.0, including a closer look at the connectors and the cable.


MaximumPC has posted some detailed information on USB 3.0, including a closer look at the connectors and the cable.

Here's the deal:

  • Cables and connectors will be backward compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0 specs.
  • Cable thicker because of the five additional lines (the cable is now about the thickness of Cat5).
  • USB 3.0 has a maximum transfer rate of 4.8Gbps.
  • Data lanes separate for uploads/downloads.
  • More efficient.

Expect USB 3.0 products to hit the shelves early 2010.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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  • 4.8Gbps Huh?

    Not too shabby, now only if I can think of a consumer computer peripheral that can utilize that speed. With the other bottle necks in data storage devices such as hard drives I think there is a need to improve those data speeds too.
    • In addition to hard drive speeds...

      One would need a faster bus speed and quite possibly a separate controller processor as to not steal too many CPU ticks.

      But more than that, we need data that needs to move that fast. That kind of throughput is desirable in the datacenter (not that you'd use USB hard drives in a datacenter) and the video production studio (for editing HD), but does the average consumer generally push data around that fast? Going from 12 Mbits/sec to 480 was definitely noticed; it did take a long time to empty out even 128 MByte digital camera cards. Now it takes less time to clear cards sixteen times that size. To stay with the digital camera example, while megapixels are creeping up (it's like that 8MP will be the norm this holiday season), I don't see consumers chomping at the bit to save an extra minute or two. This goes back to the point that even though the bandwidth will be there, the memory cards won't be able to saturate the pipe, and even if they could; you'd need 5-6 Raptor drives in a RAID-5 array to be able to write that fast.

      On the other hand, perhaps it'll open up a new breed of peripherals. External graphics arrays, perhaps? I think that that would be a wonderful use of the technology - imagine getting an external GeForce X200 and turning that netbook into something you can play Call of Duty 4 on. Maybe even external processors or RAM? hrm...add a trickle-charge AAA battery cell and maybe 16GByte RAM chips will compliment a USB flash drive. Maybe I'm rambling, but from what I can tell, there are very few applications that I'm aware of that USB 3.0 will help the bottleneck with. Until I see a product that needs it, I'll file it under "a solution in search of a problem".

      • 480 wasn't needed at launch

        Technology like this has to be available before it's required or it will never catch on. 4.8Gps seems like an awful lot now but in a few year it's not going to be any big deal. And it could be fast enough for some low-end external graphics adapter. Or the adapter could use two ports and be a decent processor. As to the processor issue, my guess is the controller is either being moved to the North Bridge or the setup with it will eliminate the north and south bridge altogether. It's the only way you'd get that kind of speed out of it as the South Bridge has never been terribly fast.

        RAID 5 is slower at writing than a single drive. So actually a single raptor would be faster for reading data off USB 3. Also keep in mind by the time this come out SATA 3 will be standard on new boards that have this so you're looking at a max throughput of 6GB/s on the drive, plenty of speed to easily handle a USB 3 device. You really shouldn't look at a single device and not the bigger picture. Also, SSDs should be pretty damn fast by then and relatively inexpensive.
        • Digital Video

          I can think of a few things that might use this kind of speed. USB 3.0 needs to keep up with eSATA which already has a 3GB transfer rate. As someone mentioned, Sata version 3 will have around a 6GB transfer rate. IEEE 1394 (Firewire) is also looking at 3.2 and 6.4 GB transfer rates.

          Keeping up with the "Joneses" is not the only reason. One of the bigest reasons I see is Digital HD video. As we continue to fit more storage in smaller physical spaces, imagine an HD Digital Camera with 1TB of space. Not only does the camera have the space, but the digital editing software is on the camera and able to run on your pc without installing to the local hard drive. Kind of a 'portable apps' thing so you can edit on any pc. Do this with an uncompressed vidio/audio stream.

          Other applications might include personal weather stations. The more throughput you have, the more realtime data you can send.

          As mentioned, this all depends on the bus/bridge. What good is a 6GB throughput if you have a bottleneck once it hits the processor? I'm sure they are working on this also.

          Now when do I get 1TB throughput on wireless USB?
      • We always need more

        and we will only ever need more than 128kb of memory...

        No this is a great move, i spend a huge amount of time
        waiting for usb devices to transfer ever larger files. That time
        will only increase as pictures have more and more megapixels, as external hard drives become larger and
        larger, etc.

        A speed increase is well overdue.
  • RE: More info on USB 3.0 emerges

    that's mean approx 600MByte/s huh?
  • I need this!

    I am very dissatisfied with USB-2 since it cannot support external soundcards supporting 192 kHz DVD-Audio format!

    I will look forward USB-3!
  • RE: More info on USB 3.0 emerges

    As someone who owned a USB 1.1 external hard drive during this era, I can say that 480mbps (or at least SOMETHING bigger) was definitely needed right away.
  • PLEASE require marks on the plugs = USB3

    There is nothing worse than picking up a USB cable and not knowing if it was made for USB-1 or USB-2.

    So here is a plea for there to be a REQUIREMENT for one of the molded connectors of the cables to have a marking which says this cable is made to USB-3 specifications.

    The most obvious mark on the molded ends is a "3". Every computer user in the world can read numbers (unlike letters). So put a big "3" on at least one of the end connectors.

    Later when USB-4, USB-5, etc. come along they should have their appropriate numbers molded into their connectors as well.


    Terry Thomas
    PC Tech
    Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Consider latency, jitter, and GigE

    Many applications are latency/jitter sensitive, so high speed isn't only for bulk thruput. Examples include video, audio workstations, and the new SSD disks where you want to keep the low latency advantages in addition to the new controllers with fast transfers.

    USB3 hopefully will drive PCs to 4 memory controllers. HPC and database apps will appreciate that.

    I am at a loss as to why Gigabit Ethernet has seen such slow adoption despite all the marketing hype being focused on wireless adoption. GigE is cheap and home file servers transfer 4-5x faster.

    I predict USB3 adoption will be slow until someone figures out a computer gaming use. Mainstreem computer archtecture is driven by the game market, and not any kind of productive computing applications. They have to get by on fortunate mutual benefits.