What Is USB 3.0?

USB 3.0

You may have noticed the packaging on your new electronic devices touting USB 3.0 or “SuperSpeed” technology and wondered why you should care.  There are significant reasons to seek out products that meet the USB 3.0 standard, and this standard will make many new products possible.

“USB” or “universal serial bus” describes the cables, connectors and protocols used for connection, communication and power supply between computers and electronic devices.  It was designed to standardize the connection of computer peripherals—such as keyboards, digital cameras, and portable media players—to personal computers.

INCREASED USB SPEED

USB 1.1, released in 1998, was the first widely used standard, followed by USB 2.0 which resulted from an industry initiative to increase data transfer rates.  The data transfer rate in USB 2.0 has been increased tenfold in USB 3.0 and consumers are reaping the benefits as products meeting the new SuperSpeed standard come to market.

STANDARD DATE RELEASED SPEED
USB 1.0 January 1996 Low-Speed 1.5Mb/sFull-Speed 12 Mb/s
USB 1.1 September 1998
USB 2.0 April 2000 Hi-Speed 480 Mb/s
USB 3.0 November 2008 SuperSpeed 4.8 Gb/s  (10 times the data transfer rate of 2.0)

MORE POWER

The list of available accessories and their features continues to expand, pushing the limits of power available to connected devices under USB 2.0.  USB 3.0 delivers more power to your device:

STANDARD AVAILABLE POWER
USB 2.0 100mA unconfigured device500mA  configured device
USB 3.0 150mA unconfigured device900mA  configured device

This means the USB bus can now power a lot more than just a flash drive, hard drive or camera.USB 3.0 flash drive

MORE EFFICIENT POWER USE

USB 3.0 devices are “asynchronous.”  Instead of broadcasting packets of data to every connected USB device, the controller will send the packets point to point, directly to the proper device.  This saves on battery drain because it eliminates the need for USB devices to be constantly working, checking if there is data to receive.

CABLES MAKE A DIFFERENCE

You’ll notice USB 3.0 cables are thicker than other USB cables.  This is because there are more wires inside.USB 3.0 cables

USB 2.0 cables include four wires: two are data lines which facilitate in and out data transfer in one direction.  One wire is for power and one is for grounding.

USB 3.0 cables include nine wires.  Besides the four described above, there is an additional ground and four additional data transmission lines, two for sending and two for receiving.  This means data can move faster and it is possible to read and write data at the same time.  (This means faster synching of data on portable storage devices.)

usb 3.0 connectorYou will also notice the connectors on your USB 3.0 cable are blue.  The cable itself may be blue or black.  There are five types of connectors in the USB 3.0 spec which we will detail in a future post.

BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY

USB 3.0 connectors and cables are backwards compatible with USB 2.0, physically and functionally.  You won’t hurt your computer by plugging a 3.0 connector into a 2.0 port, though you won’t enjoy the benefits of SuperSpeed technology unless you’re matching 3.0 devices, connectors and cables.

SOME OF THE NEW TYPES OF PRODUCTS THAT USB 3.0 WILL BRING US:

  • External hard drives. With the additional power supplied by USB 3.0 it will no longer be necessary to connect an external hard drive to the host using a Y-cable to get the current needed for reliable operation.
  • High resolution webcams and video surveillance camerasUSB 3.0 duplicator
  • External High Resolution Video Cards
  • External Blu-Ray drives and Blu-ray duplicators such as the Aleratec  1:4 Blu-ray DVD CD Tower Publisher HLS Duplicator – Part 260165. (Previous generations from Aleratec were eSATA based.)
Posted in Uncategorized, usb 3.0, USB Flash Drive

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