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USB 3.0 is one step closer to being included in our computers

It seems like everything uses USB today from cell phone chargers to keyboards, mice, printers, and cameras. What many really want are faster USB connections. USB 3.0 has been on the horizon for a while now and for a time the future of the specification and cross compatibility was unknown.

The USB 3.0 Promoters Group announced yesterday that the USB 3.0 specification was finally complete. The specification is a sort of roadmap that allows manufacturers to build controllers and products utilizing the USB 3.0 standard. The specification has now been turned over to the USB Implementers Forum, the managing body for USB specifications.

Members of the USB 3.0 promoters group including -- HP, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, ST-NXP, and Texas instruments -- have had a long road with accusations from non-forum members that it was keeping the completed specification from other manufacturers in order to give member companies a competitive edge in the market.

The accusations led AMD and NVIDIA to announce that they intended to begin work on their own open host controller for USB 3.0. This move was potentially catastrophic for USB 3.0 as different manufacturers would not have been able to guarantee compatibility across platforms for USB 3.0 devices.

USB-IF president and chairman Jeff Ravencraft said in a statement, "SuperSpeed USB is the next advancement in ubiquitous technology. Today’s consumers are using rich media and large digital files that need to be easily and quickly transferred from PCs to devices and vice versa. SuperSpeed USB meets the needs of everyone from the tech-savvy executive to the average home user."

The specification for USB 3.0 debuted at the SuperSpeed USB Developers Conference in San Jose on November 17. Among the new improvements that USB 3.0 will bring are higher data speeds and enhanced power efficiency.

The first USB 3.0 discrete controllers will be available in the second half of 2009 and the first consumer products using USB 3.0 are expected to be available in 2010. The first products to be commercially available for the specification will be flash drives, external hard drives, and digital music players.

Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA went around and around in June with accusations over how complete the open host controller specifications for USB 3.0 were. AMD and NVIDIA claimed the specification was complete and Intel wasn't releasing it in an attempt to gain a competitive edge. Intel maintained that the specification wasn't complete and when it was complete, they would release it to other manufacturers.

This is what led AMD and NVIDIA to announce they were starting work on their own specification for USB 3.0 open host controller. Exactly how far the two firms went with their own specification was never announced. The competing specification was never made available and if the two firms did begin developing their own product and just haven’t released it yet, the project is certainly dead now. It's a safe bet that the first specification to market will be the standard for USB 3.0. An AMD source claimed that it was at work on its own specification in June.

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SuperSpeed USB?
By Schrag4 on 11/18/2008 11:30:11 AM , Rating: 5
Super just won't do. I need UltraSpeed. No wait, SuperMegaUltraSpeed. Is that faster?

Seriously, WTF is up with these names. First ExtremeFFS now SuperSpeedUSB. How about naming the product with a number that's actually relavent to its performance. Super is relative. 480 Mbps is not.

Dumb name.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Expunge on 11/18/2008 11:44:23 AM , Rating: 5
Superspeed USB is to slow.. set device for Ludiocris Speed USB.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By quiksilvr on 11/18/2008 3:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
RANDOM FACT 1254: There are times when speed isn't a good thing.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Jedi2155 on 11/18/2008 11:44:03 PM , Rating: 4
Is Keanu Reeves and Sandra bullock part of those times?

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By amanojaku on 11/18/2008 12:19:12 PM , Rating: 4
LudicroUSB. When ridiculoUSB is too slow.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Expunge on 11/18/2008 2:26:03 PM , Rating: 4
As long as it does not go plaid... we will be ok. :)

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By rudolphna on 11/18/2008 10:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
Haahaa.. I love that movie.... Theyve gone plaid... xD...

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By JonnyDough on 11/20/2008 12:16:51 AM , Rating: 3
Just for fun, let's see what happens when the following companies get to be in charge of drafting up USB specs without any monitoring or collective efforts.

Intel: PentiumUSB4.0 w/HT and more ghz than other USB




Creative: X-Fi XtremeGamer Fata1ty USB





Sony: Blu-USB-UD (only compatible with Sony Products, but not all Sony Products)

Feel free to add more, I got bored with this.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By CollegeTechGuy2 on 11/20/2008 11:47:48 AM , Rating: 3
Microsoft: USBista 2009 Ultimate PremiumXP built on NT Technology

Cadillac: USB CTS-V, When you turn USB on, does it return the favor?

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Imaginer on 11/25/2008 1:48:20 PM , Rating: 2
Capcom: Super USB 3.0 II Hyper Bandwidth High Definition Jiggabyte Edition Omega

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By djc208 on 11/24/2008 10:15:59 AM , Rating: 2
Still slow compared to the speed of lint.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By RU482 on 11/18/2008 1:21:17 PM , Rating: 5
How about USB 3.0?

Do you really call USB 2.0 "HiSpeed USB"?

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Mr Perfect on 11/18/2008 3:31:57 PM , Rating: 5

The problem with these names is if you don't know what they correspond to, it's easy to get duped. How many average consumers do you think got stung because "USB Full-Speed!" sounded good, and they didn't know that Hi-Speed was, well, "fuller" then Full-Speed?

Sometimes you really need to let the engineers name things, not the marketing department.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By RandallMoore on 11/18/2008 4:48:31 PM , Rating: 3
Sometimes you really need to let the engineers name things, not the marketing department.

You hit the nail on the head with one of the biggest problems in commercial business these days. Too many idiots in charge of big decisions that are deemed "Too complicated for our low level, basic simpleton workers". That attitude in the workplace is such a hindrance.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Alpha4 on 11/18/2008 5:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
They'll probably end up naming it after themselves.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Cogman on 11/19/2008 12:37:41 AM , Rating: 2
Sad but true. Engineers like their lime light and hog it by naming everything they can after themselves. Who knows what RSA stands for? How about AVL, as in AVL Trees. Goldbacks principle, Eulers number. The list goes on.

Of course, Full speed and High speed seem more a method to try and confuse the consumer (not that hard).

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By Motoman on 11/19/2008 12:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
...I'd be more OK with "USBob" than "Ultra Omegatron Uberspeed USB."

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By BikeDude on 11/18/2008 6:08:19 PM , Rating: 3
I am beginning to fear that USB 3.0's moniker is all my fault.

Because, when it was announced that USB 2.0 products were to be labelled "Hi-Speed" I fired off a couple of angry e-mails to the USB-IF guys. I have to dig through my archives, but I fear I wrote "and what will you idiots name this thing the next time? SuperSpeed? SuperDuperSpeed?".

And go figure... They did.

Someone might want to trademark "SuperDuper-Speed". Just in case. :(

In any case, the logo will either be the letters USB wearing a cape, or the S in USB will be inside a yellow pentagon with a red outline. You have been warned.

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By kensiko on 11/18/2008 7:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
Not only the average consumers, but technicians too!!

The technician where I work thought that Full speed was the USB2.0. I was the one to let him know it was not!

RE: SuperSpeed USB?
By AstroCreep on 11/18/2008 11:12:31 PM , Rating: 3
No wait, SuperMegaUltraSpeed. Is that faster?

I don't know, but I think that's the title of one of the Street Fighter II games.

Open standard
By AnnihilatorX on 11/18/2008 10:58:45 AM , Rating: 1
Will they ever learn? These sort of corporation competitive behavior is seriously hampering innovative development and the only party losing out is the customers.

It takes a child to realise co-oporation is better in most goals and even children know how to compromise.

RE: Open standard
By MykC on 11/18/2008 11:17:13 AM , Rating: 4
From the POV of a developer

No money = No motivation
No motivation = No Innovation
No Innovation = No progress

RE: Open standard
By Myg on 11/22/2008 7:19:57 AM , Rating: 2
How do you explain the open source community?

RE: Open standard
By mindless1 on 11/25/2008 1:13:27 AM , Rating: 2
If Luke didn't battle against the dark side, there could have been no movie.

RE: Open standard
By Aloonatic on 11/18/2008 11:19:56 AM , Rating: 2
Not true if they decide to cooperate on a project that is perhaps cheaper to complete and not the best that they feasibly can make.

Not saying that this is what has or would happen, but maybe it could.

If they had worked together and not thought that the other would compete in any way they might have made USB 3.0, say half the speed it is now, so they can use lower spec/cheaper components, making themselves more money.

Then release an upgraded spec a little later that they could have made all along and so on.

As they knew that their competitors wouldn't go that way as they are clouding/cooperating, we get worse tech and it still costs the same as at the end of the day, something is only ever worth what people will be willing to pay for it with the money they have in their pockets.

Competitions mean that their margins suffer rather than us.


RE: Open standard
By dragonbif on 11/18/2008 12:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
AMD and Nvidia did not stop them from working on USB 3 all they did was accuse them of wrong doing. They may have had plans to work on their own USB 3 and it was just a threat. AMD and Nvidia may have just wanted to get the possibliity of Intel doing wrong out into public eye to put presser on Intel.

RE: Open standard
By formulav8 on 11/18/2008 10:22:19 PM , Rating: 1
Intel and their partners has the specs but Intel was not giving them to non-partners.

Which is obviously trying to help them and their partners to get ahead of the non-partners.

There is actually no excuse of that type of practice. Purposely making it so the partners would be ahead of the non-partners in bringing out products.


RE: Open standard
By TomZ on 11/19/2008 9:05:54 AM , Rating: 4
Intel had stated they wanted to complete a test implementation before they released the specification. This avoids the unfortunate situation where a spec is released prematurely, then a whole bunch of companies develop against it, and the flaws in the spec are then noticed.

At that point the choice becomes whether to fix the spec and re-do all the implementations, or just live with the shortcomings.

I hope you can understand this alternate viewpoint. I've seen this situation dozens of times in my career, and while I appreciate AMD's and nVIDIA's concerns, I think Intel did the right thing in this case. A few months' delay to help ensure a better standard - yes, that was worth it.

Speed, power savings details ?
By MarcLeFou on 11/18/2008 10:56:17 AM , Rating: 2
Anybody has any details on the increase on speed from going to usb 2 vs usb 3 and the power gains that can be realized ?

Transferring data to a usb HDD is currently painfully slow and I'd love to know by what order of magnitude they plan to improve transfer speeds.

RE: Speed, power savings details ?
By shaw on 11/18/2008 11:03:57 AM , Rating: 2
It's suppose to be 5 Gbps (640 megabytes per second).

Current Hi-Speed USB transfers at 480 Mbps (60 megabytes).

I tell you one thing, if USB 3.0 can sustain even half that speed I will be too damn happy!

RE: Speed, power savings details ?
By amanojaku on 11/18/2008 11:11:35 AM , Rating: 2
The USB 3.0 spec defines the maximum transfer rate to be 5.0Gbits/sec and a maximum cable length at that speed of 3 meters. I have no numbers either way, but I would imagine the power usage would go up as there is an additional pair of wires and the interface now works in full duplex mode. This makes the circuit simpler (no directional negotiation logic required to transfer data,) but requires twice the logic in the same space (interface buffers, clock signalers, etc...) Power usage might not be quite double, but it most likely won't be less.

RE: Speed, power savings details ?
By dice1111 on 11/18/2008 11:13:56 AM , Rating: 4

Maximum PC has a good article about it.

By ggordonliddy on 11/18/2008 8:19:03 PM , Rating: 2
You mean "Anybody have any details"?

Backward Compatability?
By gemsurf on 11/18/2008 11:06:39 AM , Rating: 2
Will current USB 2.0 be able to use the same ports ala 1.1 to 2.0? Would suck if not!

RE: Backward Compatability?
By amanojaku on 11/18/2008 11:16:05 AM , Rating: 2
Same physical plugs yes, but not the same cable at the same time. They use different signals and would interfere with each other.

RE: Backward Compatability?
By martinrichards23 on 11/18/2008 11:19:03 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Backward Compatability?
By rudolphna on 11/18/2008 10:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. If I remember correctly, USB 3.0 will use fibre optic based transfer, while retaining the standard metal pins for USB 2.0 and older spec.

RE: Backward Compatability?
By TomZ on 11/19/2008 9:09:01 AM , Rating: 2
That's not exactly right. USB3 has a new copper layer - a full-duplex LVDS link - as well as an optical layer. Plus obviously the backwards-compatible link for USB2 devices.

kinda pointless
By 13Gigatons on 11/18/2008 11:15:34 AM , Rating: 3
USB 3.0 will remain backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as far as the Type A connector is concerned

eSATA is better for hard drives imho and most other hardware really can't get close to USB 2.0 speeds yet. Mouse, keyboards, printers, scanners, etc all work fine with USB 2.0 and will for the future.

RE: kinda pointless
By oTAL on 11/18/2008 1:00:00 PM , Rating: 3
"One connector to rule them all."

It's pretty comfortable to connect most of your devices on any port on your PC, especially for laptops. I'd like it even more if I could use it for sound input/output and even for video.... Convergence is great! Remember the time when you couldn't have two printers connected to the same computer?

I think the main problem with the USB connector is that I ALWAYS try it upside down before getting it right.... =S
They could've taken that into consideration....

RE: kinda pointless
By NubWobble on 11/18/2008 9:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
I love USB but I do wish USB was as fast as Fire Wire. That would be nice but it's not that important I guess. Most important thing, as you mentioned, is that it's more or less universal. No idea what kind of changes USB 3 will bring but I am quite happy with USB 2 right now unless it speeds up portable hard disks quite a bit.

More power?
By Lazarus Dark on 11/18/2008 6:59:37 PM , Rating: 2
Does it include more power? like for running a 3.5 hard drive without the stupid power cord. I use 2.5 drives for portable storage that will run off usb alone because I hate having to carry a power cord around. In fact, I'd like to see enough power to run a small printer straight off of usb, that would be fantastic. maybe even run a low power monitor off usb. hey, we've already combined audio and video on hdmi, why can't we add power too. the less cords the better. (cords are the bane of my existence, no matter how hard I try to keep them straight, the back of the TV always ends up a rats nest!)

RE: More power?
By ggordonliddy on 11/18/2008 8:17:27 PM , Rating: 2
> Does it include more power?

I don't know how much power a 3.5" HD needs, but the Maximum PC article referenced above says:

USB 3.0 will charge more devices, quicker

Not only will USB 3.0 cables facilitate faster transfer speeds, but they’ll carry more power, too. The USB-IF recognizes the growing number of portable devices that charge via USB (cellphones, MP3 players, digital cameras), and have bumped the power output from about 100miliamps to 900 milliamps. That means not only will you be able to power more than 4 devices from a single hub, but the increase current will let you charge up heftier hardware as well.

RE: More power?
By rudolphna on 11/18/2008 10:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
thats interesting. the USB ports on my comptuer all supply up to 500ma (.5 amps) per port at +5v. A full amp per port would be nice.

RE: More power?
By mindless1 on 11/25/2008 1:24:07 AM , Rating: 2
Why? It's not enough power for a 3.5" HDD, not enough for a printer, not enough for a CCFL lit scanner and LED lit scanners already run off 500mA.

As they suggested, the primary thing this'll help do is increase charge rates for portable devices and yet, since most people won't yet have USB3 those devices will probably still be designed around a 500mA max charge rate unless a special charger is used, since it'll still be 5V AFAIK. I don't mean forever of course, but if fast charging is that important it would be trivial to rig up a 2A, 3A, whatever, power brick to charge up devices if charge speed were very important.

Then again i'm sure there are other devices I'm overlooking, so many USB devices these days like Force-feedback joysticks, USB powered speakers for low-end systems, etc, etc.

What about overhead?
By fehu on 11/18/2008 11:10:15 AM , Rating: 2
They have enhanced the cpu overhead too?

RE: What about overhead?
By threepac3 on 11/18/2008 1:29:05 PM , Rating: 2
It wouldn't be USB if it didn't.

By Scabies on 11/18/2008 1:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
"SuperSpeed USB meets the needs of everyone from the tech-savvy executive to the average home user."

I dont like what this infers...

RE: ><
By mindless1 on 11/25/2008 1:25:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I was thinking that statement was a bit backwards myself.

By Visual on 11/24/2008 6:03:54 AM , Rating: 2
I want to know if this 5Gbps figure is a total for all the USB ports on a system, or for each of them individually? Will it be real, achievable transfer speed or is it just some theoretical max that doesn't take into account any protocol overhead... and is that overhead as huge as with USB2.0?

What will the latency be like?
What about the power that it can provide?
Will the optical USB cables also have a wire component to provide power or USB2 backward compatibility?
Will devices be able to claim their expected power usage so that it is automatically known when power might not be enough if you are daisy-chaining too many devices, before a problem actually has occurred?

What are the expected applications for this interface? The theoretical bandwidth matches that of PCI-express 2x or HDMI 1.2, so I imagine external high-performance RAID controllers or video cards are possible, but are such planned yet? Also, would it be usable for direct PC-to-PC connections? It is five times faster than the current 1Gbps LAN interface so this might be useful.

RE: questions
By mindless1 on 11/25/2008 1:52:44 AM , Rating: 2
See topic title. USB specs now available, you can find out the answers to these questions. Briefly, it's individual, not real - after overhead 400MB/s, high latency (it's USB), 900mA, yes wire backward compat.,devices request power and only 900mA in USB3 mode, apps are whatever you can think of that was bottlenecked by USB2. As alway, you will want to avoid external RAID and Video (it's USB!!) and go with low latency, low overhead PCI-E. Yes PC-PC connections with a crossover cable will be useful up to 3 meters, in theory (how many actually saturate GbE between two peers often without some other bottleneck already?).

Best use, streaming video and external storage arrays. More current for USB missile launchers is a bonus.

Not the same clunky old plug again?
By MadAd on 11/24/2008 3:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
More speed is always nice, but why do they still keep the same huge great plug when clearly mini-usb is much more suited to continue miniaturising things going forwards.

Look at the size of transflash these days, a USB stick is more limited by the size of the plug than anything else now, its just too bulky and a move to the smaller plug as standard is well overdue.

Just think of all the things you could hide a few gig of memory in if mini-usb was the new standard.

By mindless1 on 11/25/2008 2:05:06 AM , Rating: 2
Not everyone agrees with you. Remember that miniaturizing things is good up to a point, beyond which it becomes more fragile and harder to use unless you can shrink yourself too.

The last thing we should do is shrink more connectors with ever increasing pin count and data transfer speed onto the point where they are intermittent and fail.

A USB stick has not so much benefit using a smaller connector, the connector itself can be the housing. Look at a Super Talent Pico-C for an example of this, or some Logitech mouse receivers and bluetooth dongles.

Remember that the plug can be the cavity the electronics are in, but only with the larger connector. Using the small connector you want will actually make the USB drive the same size or larger given all efforts to shrink it either way, in addition to less rugged, in addition to the USB socket less rugged, in addition to the socket to PCB solder points less rugged.

Mini USB connectors are only suitable for things that are infrequently connected, cheap throwaway devices. If it weren't the case, there would've only been mini USB all along.

DV Quality Transfer?
By DjiSaSie on 11/18/2008 9:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
Will "SuperDuper USB" transfer a video from a camcorder at DV Quality? If it can't, I'll name it Super U nusable S erial B us

By Silver2k7 on 11/19/2008 1:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
I thought it would all go pretty quick from when the standard was finished.. if say WesternDigital put out some USB3 mybooks it would be very nice, since the connection is backward compatible, and they would work quicker in a few months when controller cards are avalible..

but first products in 2010 sounds.. quite sluggish of the computer industry..

"The first USB 3.0 discrete controllers will be available in the second half of 2009 and the first consumer products using USB 3.0 are expected to be available in 2010. The first products to be commercially available for the specification will be flash drives, external hard drives, and digital music players."

Amd and Nvidia have gone rougue.
By gochichi on 11/25/2008 4:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
I hope that USB 3.0 is called precisely that. I also hope that it is as ubiquitous as USB 2.0 has become.

If it's better in every way than Firewire 800, that will be nice. Maybe making eSata obsolete would be nice too. I want USB 3.0 to be FAST and freakin awesome.

2010 seems like an absurdly long amount of time for something as obvious as a better spec on USB. It's already a year or two late.

Go roughe! Do whatever, just release USB 3.0 already.

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