Jul 26, 2010

After a lengthy gestation period, the third generation of the Universal Serial Bus is making its way to the market. But is it already obsolete?

Consumer electronics and computer vendors used the Consumer Electronics Show this past January to launch USB 3.0, an update to the popular standard external data transfer interface. The new speed of USB 3.0 generated a lot of interest.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) has done wonders for creating a standard interface on PCs. Prior to the USB port, PCs were a mishmash of various proprietary ports, often single-vendor efforts. There was no effective means for transferring files between two PCs. If you’ve been around PCs long enough, you remember LapLink, for transferring files between two PCs, a popular application that relied on proprietary software and a thick cable connected to the serial port.

USB freed us from proprietary solutions, proprietary software, and perhaps best of all, bent pins. Ever bend a pin when plugging in a PS/2 mouse or keyboard? It’s a recipe for a bad hardware day.

The USB standard has had long lags between revisions but made up for it with quantum leaps in speed. The first version shipped in 1996, and featured a data rate of 12 Mbits per second. USB 2.0, released in April 2000, specified 480 Mbit/s, a forty-fold increase over the 1.0 specification.

USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, has throughput of up to 5 gigabits per second. That’s even faster than the 3Gb/sec of SATA hard drives and 1Gb/sec. of high-end networking in the home. There’s 10Gb Ethernet, which has no mass market use, and is meaningful only in data centers – not on an enterprise laptop. So unless you have one of those new 6Gb SATA drives, you won’t max the speed of a USB 3.0 cable.

As a more direct comparison, it would take 14 minutes to transfer 25GB of data over USB 2.0, but just four minutes with USB SuperSpeed.

USB is standard on every PC that ships these days. Even though yours has USB 2.0 built-in, add-in cards support USB 3.0, and there are PC Card cards for laptops as well. You can buy a PCI card with two ports for as little as $39, and a host of external drives and case enclosures. If you’re into building systems, there are also motherboards with USB 3.0 as well.

External storage in particular has embraced USB 3.0 because the new hardware standard finally allows for external drives that can operate at a speed comparable to internal drives. A USB 3.0 drive wouldn’t  require an external power supply, drawing power for the drive through the USB cable. Old external drives using USB 2.0 usually required an external power supply; in some cases, they used two USB 2.0 ports at the same time to get the power and throughput they needed.

USB 2.0 was such a bottleneck that a stopgap was introduced called eSATA, which allowed for external drives that used a SATA hard drive interface. Well, USB 3.0 pretty much that out to pasture.

What’s New?

The USB Implementers Forum, which coordinated development of the spec, used the same physical plug with both USB 1.0 and USB 2.0, so it was possible to plug a 1.0 device into a 2.0 port, or a 2.0 device into a 1.0 port. In the case of the latter, the USB 2.0 device simply ran at 1.0 speed.

But with USB 3.0, even though the plug looks the same, the cable has extra wires. Because of this, it will not work in a 2.0 port. The edge of a USB 3.0 plug is colored blue so you know it’s a 3.0. The USB 3.0 cable has nine wires, compared with the five in a USB 2.0 cable, even though it’s the same thickness.

Likewise, the end of the cable that connects to a USB device, such as a printer or external drive, is also different from the old USB 2.0 connector. Because of this, you can’t use USB 3.0 cables to connect USB 2.0 devices. Also, if your drive, scanner, printer, camera, or whatever is a USB 3.0 device, then you must use a 3.0 cable.

On the plus side, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices and cables into the USB 2.0 ports on your current computer, but you won’t get the speed advantage.

With nine wires, USB 3.0 has two additional lanes of traffic for data, and the traffic can flow bi-directionally. USB 2.0 can only do single-direction transfers. If a device and computer were to send data back and forth, the two devices had to take turns exchanging data.

Also, USB 3.0 supports asynchronous transfers between devices. In USB 2.0, the host controller had to ask for data and then the device sent it. Imagine you want a book from someone. The USB 2.0 way would require you to ask for the book’s contents one page at a time, and would request each page one after the other. The USB 3.0 way simply hands you the book.

Power to the USB

USB 3.0 SuperSpeed has a higher power draw. A USB 3.0 device can get up to 50% more power through the port than through 2.0. This permits powering much more powerful devices instead of just little thumb drives or small digital cameras.

But another big change in USB 3.0 is very important: They ended a feature in 2.0 called polling. When a USB device is plugged into the port, the computer keeps polling the port. This keeps the device and computer from going into low power states and drains the battery at a faster rate. That’s not big deal on a desktop, but on a laptop it matters.

At one time or another you probably used a notebook running on battery power, then plugged in a USB device and left it there. Next thing you knew, the battery was at 20%. That’s because the computer kept polling the USB device, sucking up its battery power.

USB 3.0 will be interrupt-driven, so if nothing is happening with the device, the machine doesn’t poll it. If you are working on a Word document, it won’t poll the device until you actually read or write to disk. This will allow the CPU to go into a low power state and thus preserve battery life.

Your Move, Intel

Intel is a member of the USB working group but has been rather quiet about USB 3.0. In late 2009, Nvidia (no friend of Intel), told anyone who would listen that Intel would not put USB 3.0 support in its chipsets until 2011, and Intel chipsets are dominant in the x86 market (unless you go for AMD).

Later, that rumored delay date was pushed out to 2012. The motherboards and add-in cards you see now with USB 3.0 use chipsets from NEC, and other vendors are reported to be so frustrated with Intel’s foot dragging that they may do their own.

So why would Intel sabotage an industry effort in which it participates? Most likely because it has its own solution in the works, called Light Peak. Intel first showed it at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September 2009 and gave an update in June of this year.

Light Peak is a fiber optic wire connection. It uses the same size connector as USB but the wires are thinner than a shoe lace, as opposed to the rope-like thickness of USB. But much more important: Light Peak can transmit data up to 50 meters. USB tops out at five meters, and that’s pushing it.

The other plus of Light Peak is its speed. It can transmit 10Gb of data per second bidirectionally, twice that of USB 3.0. At the June update, Intel showed it running on a laptop computer, streaming high-definition video while transferring multiple gigabytes of files at the same time.

Would Intel favor Light Peak over USB 3.0? Why not? It has a technically superior product that could easily be used inside computers as an alternative to the much slower SATA as well as external connectors, and Intel would get all of the royalties instead of sharing them with a consortium.

They aren’t hurting the industry by not producing a USB 3.0 chip, just inconveniencing it. Other vendors are making USB 3.0 chips, after all. And USB 2.0 is so entrenched it will take a while for mainstream support to come about.

Windows 7 does not have USB 3.0 support in it yet. There are rumors Microsoft will add native USB 3.0 to the first Service Pack for Windows 7. Currently, the USB 3.0 support requires drivers from the chipset maker, but Microsoft will reportedly make it native with SP1. The beta still has not been announced as of this writing, so at this point it’s all conjecture.

The future is going to be much faster. Which road we take is not entirely clear. It all depends on what Intel chooses to support. As a major supplier of chipsets, the direction it takes could be make or break, or at the very least a headache for one side.

Related Information From Dell.com: Create a Network Roadmap.

Want more like this? Sign up for the weekly IT Expert Voice Newsletter so you don't miss a thing!

COMMENTS

  • Aug 25, 2010 | Halifax says:

    LightPeak is just silly. The increased cable length could be incredibly useful in certain situations, but there's no need for bus speed like that for external devices. When they have HDs that can transfer at that speed then it will be needed, but unless that's being worked on there's no use for it aside from a minor speed increase in today's drives then 10 Gb/s is horrid overkill. USB 3.0 has the advantage of being able to utilize old USB devices (with the 5-pin USB cables) so I don't have to sacrifice the number of usable ports on my computer.

    I'm assuming older USB devices with their correct cables will work in USB 3.0 ports, because that isn't specifically stated in this article. I'd be incredibly disappointed is they didn't. The article is also poorly-worded in places and actually contradicts itself:

    "But with USB 3.0, even though the plug looks the same, the cable has extra wires. Because of this, it will not work in a 2.0 port."
    "On the plus side, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices and cables into the USB 2.0 ports on your current computer, but you won’t get the speed advantage."

  • Aug 26, 2010 | Beemer says:

    Just a note here, but I believe that while MS Windows doesn't have USB 3.0 support, Linux already does.

  • Aug 26, 2010 | johnH says:

    Linux already has drivers for USB 3.0 in the kernel.

  • "As a more direct comparison, it would take 14 minutes to transfer 25GB of data over USB 2.0, but just four minutes with USB SuperSpeed".

    Wouldn't it take about 2 minutes, when we compare USB2 vs USB3 protocol speeds? Still, as of today, we can expect as most 2-3x increase in USB-disk transfer speeds (i.e. USB2 would not do much than 40 MB/s; but there aren't disks faster than about 120 MB/s, expect perhaps some SSDs.)

  • Aug 26, 2010 | JimC says:

    Microsoft windows 7 may not support it but why no mention that Linux does

    http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/255991/linux-first-to…

    Linux will be the first operating system with official support for USB 3, an Intel open-source developer has announced.

  • Aug 26, 2010 | ColinP says:

    10Gb/s may seem like "horrid overkill" today, but if USB 3.0 is in use as long as 2.0, then who is to say that by 2020, 10Gb/s transfer may feel severly limiting? By then, SSDs will be prevelant or even have been superceded. Of course, by 2020, even the concept of using local backups may have been superceded by the "cloud"

  • Aug 26, 2010 | the Goat says:

    USB 3 should not be implemented. Since they are breaking away from the legacy physical USB connector (adding more pins), then why not go all the way and totally replace it? Perhaps with a high speed fiber optic connection? Light Peak is a much better solution.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | homer says:

    At that distance you could have quite a nice USB LightPeak network between 2 machines.

    I don't think there is any such thing as over spec in IT. I'd rather they gave us something that we don't yet need, future poofed, than create something like a 50x CD drive and then sell it to us at 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x etc etc over and over again.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Anony Moose says:

    USB provides power. Does light peak?

  • Aug 27, 2010 | PLIP says:

    Laplink cables used the printer port

    I still have one

    Until recently Linux had a 'PLIP' driver that used the printer ports as network interfaces, very useful for old laptops.

    Hey goat USB 3 is already implemented, you're a day late and a dollar short.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Noj says:

    because light peak cannot power a device?

  • Aug 27, 2010 | blarf says:

    Since all new computers need USB ports for the keyboard and mouse, the ports won’t be going away anytime soon. Keeping USB 1.x and 2.0 compatibility is important here.

    For the uneducated user, USB 3.0 is nice. It doesn’t matter what version their device is, it will plug in and work, although it may not run full speed.

    The only incompatibility issue I foresee is the fact that USB 3.0 devices will get more power than earlier versions, so if a device assumes it will be getting the full amperage, it will fail when plugged in a legacy port.

    LightPeak is an OK standard, but we have to remember the rule about fiber optic cable: Don’t look down cable with remaining eye. Fiber optic connections do not tolerate as much abuse as USB ones do, so this is a concern. Remember, this connector has to be used safely by someone on their tenth Bud Light and knows little to nothing about computers.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | naive questioner says:

    One of the benefits of the USB connections, which improves in USB 3 is supplying power to the remote device. Will LightSpeed be transferring power over those 50ft shoe lace thin cables as well or will all the LightSpeed device need their own power supply?

  • Aug 27, 2010 | naive questioner says:

    Sorry, should have said "Light Peak" instead of "LightSpeed". okay for mods to edit if prev comment approved.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Bob says:

    Unless you need power, I would love to see you shove current down a fiber optic line. Also have you ever handled fiber optic lines? they are fragile, you plug them in, give them plenty of grace and dont touch them, now lets see you roll one up daily for your camera, oh and dont forget the wall wart to charge its battery

    fragile cable + extra wire sounds like a win win to me

  • Aug 27, 2010 | markc says:

    The main factor distinguishing between USB 3 or Light Peak would be price. I've seen USB 3 devices coming out at the same pricepoint as USB 2 whereas manufacturers wanting to include Light Peak chips, connectors, cables and such will have to pay a premium until it reaches true mass production levels. I'd rather upgrade to USB 3 right now for the same priced products than LP enabled devices in another year or two at (pick a figure) higher prices.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | aplumb3000 says:

    All hail the mighty penguin!

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Guest says:

    Just my two cents, I'm always up for more speed, but to introduce fiber optics into the home, don't know if I like the idea. The cables are sturdy enough, but consumers will need to know these cables will be less durable than their predecessors. Fiber doesn't like making 90 degree turns and being pinched between walls and desks, once you hear a crunch, get a new cable.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Mario says:

    Light Peak sounds much better to me

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Martin says:

    [...]USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, has throughput of up to 5 gigabits per second. That’s even faster than the 3Gb/sec of SATA hard drives and 1Gb/sec.[...]

    Uhhh.. what? Since when is 5 gigabit faster than 3Gb/sec, or even 1Gb/sec. Gb/sec means Gigabytes per second, and there are 8 bits in a byte. That means 8 gigabit equals 1Gb/sec (that's why ISPs list their services in gigabit, 8 gigabit sounds better than 1 gb/s).

    From another source (Wikipedia):
    A new major feature is the "SuperSpeed" bus, which provides a fourth transfer mode at 5.0 Gbit/s. The raw throughput is 4 Gbit/s, and the specification considers it reasonable to achieve 3.2 Gbit/s (0.4 GByte/s or 400 MByte/s), or more, after protocol overhead.

    Sorry to burst any bubbles. It's still a great step ahead and I'm looking forward to it!

  • Aug 27, 2010 | grc says:

    No one is mentioning the costs of implementation… How much more expensive will Lightpeak cables be than USB 3.0 cables. The cost of implementing on a chipset? On a device? Power concerns? USB 3.0, being copper based can provide power to external devices. Can Lightpeak? Are Lightpeak cables hybrid (Copper AND fiber)?

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Bob says:

    GB = GigaBytes, Gb = Gigabits

    your own wikipedia reference shows that

  • light peak speeds are not silly for things like audio interfaces, which are currently limited by firewire or abysmal usb speeds. if you want something with a decent number of channels, you need some kind of ADAT hook up, or worse, specialized protools hardware… personally i'd LOVE that sort of throughput as audio in! (then we just need hard drives that deal with those speeds to disk…)

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Douchebaggery Sucks says:

    "But with USB 3.0, even though the plug looks the same, the cable has extra wires. Because of this, it will not work in a 2.0 port. The edge of a USB 3.0 plug is colored blue so you know it’s a 3.0. The USB 3.0 cable has nine wires, compared with the five in a USB 2.0 cable, even though it’s the same thickness."

    "Likewise, the end of the cable that connects to a USB device, such as a printer or external drive, is also different from the old USB 2.0 connector. Because of this, you can’t use USB 3.0 cables to connect USB 2.0 devices. Also, if your drive, scanner, printer, camera, or whatever is a USB 3.0 device, then you must use a 3.0 cable."

    "On the plus side, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices and cables into the USB 2.0 ports on your current computer, but you won’t get the speed advantage."

    HUH?

    Which is it? Will a USB 3.0 cable work fine with USB 2.0 ports and devices, or not? What idiot wrote the three paragraphs above, which directly contradict each other? Just read them through, and as you read the last paragraph, you think to yourself: "Huh? Didn't he just spend two paragraphs explaining that they WON'T work?"

    Unbelievable. Utter douchebaggery of the highest order, and nice to see that so many other commenters noticed this.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Douchebaggery Sucks says:

    Martin: "Since when is 5 gigabit faster than 3Gb/sec, or even 1Gb/sec. Gb/sec means Gigabytes per second, and there are 8 bits in a byte."

    GB means GigaBYTE, Gb means GigaBIT.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | psm321 says:

    Gb/sec = gigabit/sec. SATA does not transfer 3 gigaBYTES per second.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | _iCeb0x_ says:

    Sorry, dude… Lasers make you blind; optic fiber has nothing to do with it. You can use other "kinds of light" with optic fiber to transmit data.

    Also, plastic optic fiber is not as rugged as a copper wire, but I think the manufacturers will take care to make the cables drunk-user-proof.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | _iCeb0x_ says:

    Dude, you got confused:

    b = bit
    B = byte

    The same goes for the "M":

    m = mili (10^-3)
    M = mega (10^6)

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Paul says:

    uh, aren’t these 2 sentences contradictory?

    “But with USB 3.0, even though the plug looks the same, the cable has extra wires. Because of this, it will not work in a 2.0 port.”

    “On the plus side, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices and cables into the USB 2.0 ports on your current computer”

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Erik says:

    no they are all in the same unit.
    in the scientific notation you capitalize the unit (under certain conditions) not the prefix.
    gB is gigabytes
    gb is gigabits

    Sata is 3 gigabits
    Ethernet is 1 gigabit
    usb 3.0 is ~5 gigabits
    usb 2.0 is ~.5 gigabits

  • Aug 27, 2010 | John says:

    If you actually looked at what lightpeak is, you would have read that it is not just a optical fibre in the cable, it can also have wires in the cable and connect to standard USB2 devices.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Neil says:

    Actually, you're partially wrong. Gb/s is GigaBITs per second. GB is GigaBYTEs per second.
    Therefore, 5Gb/s IS faster than 3Gb/s.

    However, you are correct about the roughly 400 -600 MegaByte throughput. That's still pretty darn fast. But measuring throughput in bytes per second is arguably more deceiving because throughput has historically been measured in bits per second. Because "bits per second" is a more familiar reference, it's easier for most people to compare differences between generations of electronics.

    No bubbles burst here, just a different unit of measurement.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | stenchos says:

    @martin
    Sorry dude, Gb and GB are two completely different things. The small ‘b’ means bit. The large ‘B’ means byte. Very, very different things as I’m sure you’re aware. 5 gigabit and 5Gb are exactly the same thing…they’re talking about giga ‘bits’ not bytes. If you have been misled by your ISP then I’m sorry. ;-)

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Storage Dude says:

    Light Peak is a multi-protocol physical transport. It has been designed to carry USB3, ethernet, digital video, etc. Light Peak and USB3 complement each other, they don't compete with one another. Think of it this way: Your server/workstation has a light peak interface with a nice long fiber connection to an external break-out box that has multiple connections, including: USB3, Display Port, 10 Gb / 1 Gb ethernet, etc.

    With Light Peak we will FINALLY have the ability to keep the large, noisy and hot server/workstation far far away from the actual work / display area. Think about how cool this will be. You can run light peak connections through your data center, office, or home and set up display, keyboard, mouse, network, and local storage connections all over a single wire, and they will be FAST.

    For your typical laptop or desktop, there will be plenty of standard USB3 connections. Only high end workstations and servers will have a need for light peak, but that doesn't lessen how useful the technology is.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Barrett says:

    Gb == gigabits. Lowercase b = bit, B = Byte.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | bob says:

    Since when? Since Gb means Gigabits. GB is GigaBytes. It's been that way for ages.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Storage Dude says:

    I have handled fibre optic lines, while you need to be a bit more careful with them, it isn't as bad as you make it out to be.

    One time I had to run a test that called for a defective LC-LC fibre cable on a 4 Gbps Fibre Channel setup. I grabbed a sacrificial cable and proceeded to wrap it TIGHTLY around a pencil, over and over again and not a blip in the communications line between the HBA and the storage.

    I finally ended up just bending it in half repeatedly and squeezing at the fold in the cable. I was finally able to disrupt the communications, but it was a LOT more difficult than I expected it to be.

    As long as you aren't being a complete moron, fibre connections are extremely resilient. Even your typical "toss it behind a desk" scenario is not likely to cause any problems whatsoever.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Sean says:

    yes and no. the first statement is saying you can't use the USB 3.0 CABLE with a USB 2.0 PORT. The 2nd statement is saying you can use a USB 2.0 CABLE with a USB 3.0 device to plug into a USB 2.0 PORT. Without the context of the previous sentence with the first statement, these statements are contradictory. Basically they are saying, if you want USB 3.0 speeds, you need to use the USB 3.0 cable (thus both devices need to have USB 3.0 ports), but if you for some reason want to use a USB 2.0 cable, you can.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Paul says:

    I was thinking the same thing here. Why do both standards have to compete? They are perfect additions to each other.

    Use USB for all the devices that need powering, while using LP for the insane speed between components.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Isaac says:

    @Erik – It depends entirely on the measurement. In scientific measurement you capitalize either the suffix or prefix depending on what they are. For Giga you use a capital G. There is no lower case g prefix (AFAIK). It makes a different for other letters, for instance M and m are very different, but about 9 decimal places. The same goes for P/p (Peta/pico) and Z/z (Zetta/zepto). Completely opposite sides of the scale.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Some One says:

    Jason:
    At best, the new mechanical hdds are at around 125 megabytes/sec sustained average transfer rates, which is under the 1.5gb spec of SATA I. The new SSDs might be 350 or perhaps a bit more megabytes/sec which is just over the speed SATA 3g speed. (in SATA, 3g=300 megabytes/sec since they use 2 bits for error checking, so you can directly divide by 10 for speed converting).

    So EVEN IF you have a new SATA6g hdd/SDD, the actual speed of sustained transfers is still going to be significantly under the theoretical maximum of 5gb for usb3, let alone SATA6g.

    That being said, USB3 does NOT obsolete eSATA. Because eSATA runs at the SATA speed, so it can theoretically hit the new SATA 6g speeds. And whatever the next standard is (sata 9g?) eSATA is likely to support it too.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Guest says:

    Not silly at all, a 2600×1600 monitor at 10bit component depth will saturate LightPeak. It would be nice if monitors (external devices connected to almost every desktop) could use a common cable, but the bandwidth requirements are still too high, even for LightPeak.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | chromeronin says:

    For a single drive, lightsspeed wouldnt matter, but say you were attaching to a NAS, or RAID array like a Drobo, or an array of SSD drives, or shared storage like a SAN, but for desktop use, or using this as a connector for driving a robot, or an HD video display, or array of display devices, or an external chassis that might contain full length PCI cards when your desktop is smaller than a half sized mac mini.
    What I was really waiting for was wirelss USB, as bluetooths datarates are tuely archaeic now.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Jonathan says:

    GB/s is gigibytes per second.
    Gb/s is gigabits per second.
    HTH.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Guest says:

    For those folks wondering whether Light Peak will power itself: the answer is yes. Intel is working on integrating copper with the cable. Next time, check wikipedia.

    As for the durability, you should be able to bend the Light Peak cables anyway you need to connect your devices and get them working. It is supposedly scalable to 100 Gbps. How they keep it that fast with 50-100 m cables and multiple twists and turns, is an interesting engineering problem.

    The only end-user issue is cost.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | Anony Moose says:

    >Intel is working on integrating copper with the cable. Next time, check wikipedia.

    Checking wikipedia is no help. Apparently this is “being worked on”. No comment on actual power transfer capabilities.

  • Aug 27, 2010 | ReadMore says:

    Apparently the person that wrote the article has not spoken with Intel, who haven't been quiet about USB 3.0 clearly stating many months ago, that they're not going to bother with USB 3.0 and are moving straight to Light Peak just as Apple is… since Intel initially designed it for Apple!

  • Aug 28, 2010 | tejas says:

    nice stuff man

  • Aug 28, 2010 | Neil says:

    I work with both single and multimode fiber. For the most part it is pretty resilient as Storage Dude pointed out. I still say it’s a little more fragile then copper lines though, as I have seen broken fiber before due to wheeled chairs running over the line. However the only downside to Lightpeak (as long as there are copper lines providing power) is cost. While I haven’t actually read the specification, another issue would be the fact you probably can’t plug in a hub, and if you can, the hub itself would be expensive too. So even if it’s only mildly above the cost of USB3 you’re still looking at that price times the amount of ports you have. On my notebook I have 4 ports alone, desktops generally have more.

  • Aug 28, 2010 | Neil says:

    I have also bought a USB3 card for my server. I can indeed say that the USB “B” connector is different, but USB2 devices can be plugged in to the card and used as I have plugged in USB2 external drives into the card without problems. I also LOVE the speed of USB 3. Your looking at a 4x speed increase easy in real world (~30MBps of USB2 vs +120MBps of USB3). USB3 gets my nod of approval as I have used it. Lightpeak may be better, but it’s not out yet. The longer Intel waits the more saturated the USB3 market will become and eventually it will win by default if the adoption rate is high enough.

  • Aug 28, 2010 | Jim says:

    So True! I love it when idiots try to explain things!

  • Aug 29, 2010 | Ben Matewe says:

    Changing the physical structure was not such a good idea, me thinks. And perhaps people can refer to Wikipedia before they post comments, it’s free!

  • Aug 29, 2010 | Lewis says:

    First you say: “But with USB 3.0, even though the plug looks the same, the cable has extra wires. Because of this, it will not work in a 2.0 port.”

    Then you go on to say:

    “On the plus side, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices and cables into the USB 2.0 ports on your current computer, but you won’t get the speed advantage.”

    Which is it? will you be able to plug your USB3 external HD into a USB2 port or not?

  • Aug 30, 2010 | Martin Corona says:

    Perhaps they're trying to develop technology that's useful in the future and not just the past.

    "640K ought to be enough for anybody" – Bill Gates.

  • Sep 2, 2010 | chump says:

    > I'm ***uming older USB devices with their correct cables will work in USB 3.0 ports

    You're what now?

  • It's a weird setting in the comments system. Sigh.

  • Sep 7, 2010 | foo says:

    That's what I thought when I got my first USB 2.0 device, 480Mbit? It's over kill and I'll never use it, they'll never make a drive faster than that. Well, I stand corrected.
    I don't know what computing will look like in 5-10 years but I'll bet 5Gb/s will not be enough for some things you'll want to do. We already have HDTV's and monitors in our houses and can exploit more data than that.

  • Sep 15, 2010 | Duderino says:

    The article admittedly is weak in places, but it doesn't contradict itself. In the example you site, the first sentence is about the USB 3.0 cable itself, which is incompatible. The second sentence is about 3.0 devices, which are retro-compatible.

  • Jan 18, 2011 | nathan says:

    actually the second one is worded wrong even if that's what its saying. it should specify usb 2 cables.

DELL
FM IT Expert Voice is a partnership between Dell and Federated Media. Privacy Statement