USB 3.0 is here

As you’re reading this on a computer, the chances are that there are several near you right now. The USB (or universal serial bus) is a standardised method of connecting devices developed in the mid 1990’s to replace all the different types of serial and paralell ports, and has been one of the most widely used formats with a estimated 6bn plus USB products sold to date. However, as storage media becomes ever larger and cheaper, USB 2.0 can sometimes feel pretty slow, especially if you are transferring gigabites of data.

A major update to one of the most widely used formats is now here, with USB 3.0 Superspeed. The specification for USB 3.0 was finished late in 2008, but it wasn’t unitl early 2010 that the first devices appeared at consumer shows and there are now 17 USB 3.0 certified products. The new USB features theoretical speeds of upto 5Gbps (whereas USB 2.0 topped at 480Mbps), due to an extra two connections, yet consumes half as much power as USB 2.0 due to a power saving mode when idle.

Tests on early 3.0 devices have shown that the claims of ’10x faster’ are not exactly true quite yet. A Western Digital 3.0 compatible hard drive showed on average a 3x improvement in speed, but is limited by the 3Gbps transfer rate of the HDD itself.
Still, as the jump from 1.0 to 2.0 was relatively painless, and very useful, we look forward to the full introduction of USB 3.0. Manufacturers expect most devices to be produced with USB 3.0 by around 2014.

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