Updated 10Gb/s USB 3.0 specification in the pipeline

USB 3.0 is to get a much-needed performance boost -- bringing its throughput close to that of Thunderbolt -- while retaining backward-compatibility with existing hardware.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced at CES 2013 in Las Vegas that an updated USB 3.0 specification is in the pipeline that will offer speeds of up to 10Gb/s, or twice that currently offered by the existing USB 3.0 standard.

While the updated USB 3.0 specification will require new chipsets, all ports and cables will be compatible with existing USB hardware.

"With USB technology continuing to be the data and power delivery path of choice across personal computing and consumer electronics, we are always looking ahead to how to best improve user experience and connectivity performance," said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group chair, at the announcement. "Doubling SuperSpeed USB performance will be especially beneficial for emerging USB docking and storage applications."

The new performance bump will bring the performance of USB 3.0 close to that of Thunderbolt, a hardware interface that Apple first brought to market on its 2011 MacBook Pro. This update will put pressure on Apple and Intel -- the forces behind Thunderbolt -- to increase the throughput offered by their standard.

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The USB 3.0 Promoter Group is made up of Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments, and the group unveiled the USB 3.0 specification back in November of 2008.

USB 3.0 has shown healthy adoption since its release, with some 720 certified devices now on the market

According to the USB Implementers Forum the updated specification should be ready by mid-2013, and hardware based on the new specification will be available within about a year.

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