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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing USB 3.0

The Universal Serial Bus standard has come a long way since its introduction in 1996. Backed by a consortium of companies led by Intel, Compaq and Microsoft, it offered some unheard-of features for its time, including the ability to connect peripherals without turning off the computer first and to draw power without a separate AC connection. The standard became popular with the arrival of version 1.1 in late 1998, allowing a maximum transfer rate of 12Mb/s, and as we can witness nowadays just about any device comes standard with 'Hi-Speed' USB 2.0 connectivity.

USB 3.0 is the next major revision of the ubiquitous interface. dubbed SuperSpeed USB. This new version promises higher Speed than the USB 2.0 version. Is has created a next generation USB stantard.

Some quick facts about USB 3.0

It's fast:

The new USB 3.0 breaks the 480MB/s data transfer limit of USB 2.0 and it gives a maximum Speed of 4.8GB/s. Just keep in mind that real-world performance can be lower than that. USB 3.0 devices are not expected to reach their full power at launch but to achieve a throughout output of 3.2Gb/s. But it is really give a very high Sped of transfering a 27 GB hjgh definition movie in a little time of over 1 minute rather than 15 or more minutes in USB 2.0.

It's bi-directional:

Unlike previous versions where data can only be written in one direction at a time, USB3.0 can read and write data simultaneosly. This is done by adding two new lanes dedicated to transmit SuperSpeed data and another pair for receiving it, bringing the total number of connections from four on USB 2.0 (power, ground and two for sending/receiving non-SuperSpeed data) to nine counting the 3.0 ground contact.

It's more power efficient:

The signaling method is also changed that the active and non-active devices will get power according to their use. If the power is non-active it wll not get power. Minimum devise operating Voltage is also drooped to 4.4V to 4V. On the other the USB-IF has upped the maximum bus power output to 500mA to 900mA, which will boost power neede devices. It will also help the battery-powered devices to charge quickly.

It's backwards compatible:

The existing USB 2.0 will work on version 3.0 ports and 3.0 on 2.0 version. You Will get maximum bandwidth when using 3.0 cable with 3.0 ports and devices. While plugging 2.0 device into 2.0 port or 2.0 device into 3.0 port will give standard datarates.

Since the new interface has been carefully planned from the start to peacefully co-exist with its predecessor, the connector itself remains mostly the same with the four USB 2.0 contacts in the exact same location as before. Extra pins for the new lanes dedicated to transmit and receive SuperSpeed data are located on the back and only come into contact when mated with a proper USB 3.0 port.

Unfortunately Intel is supporting this technology untill atleast 2011.


Several third party motherboards are supporting this new technology. ASSUS has four variations of the P7P55D-E for intel LGA 1156 lynnfield processors, with price $180 to $280 as well as $300 P6X58D Premium for Intel LGA 1366 Bloomfield chips.

Gigabyte also has four boards available as part of its P55A branded series $135 and $250.Also the GA-X58A-UD7 for $350 and a pair based on AMD's 790X and 790FX chipset each going for $140 and $185, respectively.

MSI is working on atleast one USB 3.0 equipped P55 motherboard.


It will take atleast a year or two to se USB 3.0 devices available in market.

Adapter cards:

Adapter cards will likely play an important role in driving the installed base of USB 3.0 ports up. Instead of shelling out upwards of $150 for a new USB 3.0-equipped motherboard, users would need to spend roughly $30 to $50 for a 2-port PCI Express card compatible with their current hardware.

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