Unveiled on Monday by the USB Implementers Forum, the USB 3.0 spec can theoretically support data-transfer speeds of up to 4.8Gbps — 10 times the speed provided by USB 2.0.
The new standard, also known as SuperSpeed USB, is also expected to be more power-efficient than its predecessor.
"SuperSpeed USB is the next advancement in ubiquitous technology," Jeff Ravencraft, the president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the industry group that promotes USB technology, said in a statement on Monday. "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."
The USB-IF hopes USB 3.0 will be built into computers from late 2009, with consumer products using the specification starting to appear the following year — or roughly a decade after USB 2.0 made its appearance. According to the industry group, the first such products will include external hard drives, flash drives, digital cameras and personal media players.
The specification was designed to be backwards-compatible with earlier iterations of USB.
Companies that were instrumental in developing USB 3.0 include Intel, HP, Microsoft, ST-NXP Wireless, NEC and Texas Instruments. Intel had taken the lead in the specification's development, but only made a draft specification available to companies such as AMD and Nvidia in August of this year. Prior to that release, there had been concerns that the USB 3.0 specification would be forked into divergent versions.