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CES 2013: USB 3.0 Will Double Speed In 2014

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The updated standard will offer speeds up to 10Gbps, while maintaining backwards compatibility

USB 3.0, the third generation of the USB standard for connecting devices to PCs and power supplies will go twice as fast, reaching speeds up to 10Gbps, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group (USB-PG) announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The promise could put USB on a par with the Thunderbolt connector, which was developed by Apple and Intel and released in 2011. The standard is expected to be finalised by the middle of this year, with the first devices supporting 10Gbps throughput coming in the first half of 2014.

Meanwhile, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has announced that the number of USB 3.0 certified devices has doubled in the past 12 months.

CES 2013 logoNeed for USB speed

USB-PG is the organisation that developed the original USB 3.0 standard back in 2008, and has been updating it ever since. It consists of HP, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments. Just last year, USB-PG added the ability to transfer up to 100 Watts of power through the familiar blue socket, enabling convenient charging of laptops and other power-hungry devices.

USB 3.0 © pixelnest Shutterstock 2012Now, the group has enhanced the standard to offer higher transfer speeds, while keeping backwards compatibility with existing USB 3.0 hubs and devices, as well as USB 2.0 products.

The updated USB 3.0 will feature improved data encoding, resulting in higher throughput and better power efficiency. It will, however, remain compatible with all existing software stacks and device class protocols.

According to Brad Saunders, chairman of the USB-PG, the updated standard should be especially useful for USB docking and storage applications. It will be reviewed by the industry during the first quarter of 2013, and should be completed in the second quarter. The first devices supporting higher speeds should appear in the following 12 months.

“These updates will enable higher data rates and allow combining of disk, high-definition audio/video and networking traffic on a single cable — all while maintaining compatibility with billions of existing devices,” said Dennis Flanagan, general manager for Windows Ecosystem Engagement.

“While maintaining backward compatibility, the 10Gbps data rate allows users to do more with a universal standard that can be leveraged by many industries,” commented Roland Sperlich, product line manager for Consumer and Computing Interfaces at Texas Instruments.

Also at CES 2013, USB-IF, the non-profit organisation that supports the advancement and adoption of USB technology, has announced that the number of officially certified USB 3.0 devices on the market has grown over 720, doubling in a year.

“The proliferation of USB 3.0 certified products is impressive, with nearly 500 million SuperSpeed USB devices currently on the market, over 5.8 billion devices are set to ship between now and 2016,” said Greg Potter, analyst at Multimedia Research Group. “USB is the most successful interface in the history of the PC and continued industry adoption will only solidify its position in the market.”

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