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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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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.

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