USB 3.0 is the next major revision of the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus, created in 1996 by a consortium of companies led by Intel to dramatically simplify the connection between host computer and peripheral devices. Fast forwarding to 2009, USB 2.0 has been firmly entrenched as the de-facto interface standard in the PC world for years (with about 6 billion devices sold), and yet still the need for more speed by ever faster computing hardware and ever greater bandwidth demands again drive us to where a couple of hundred megabits per second is just not fast enough.
In 2007, Intel demonstrated SuperSpeed USB at the Intel Developer Forum. Version 1.0 of the USB 3.0 (confusing, isn't it?) specification was completed on November 17, 2008. As such, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has taken over managing the specifications and publishes the relevant technical documents necessary to allow the world of developers and hardware manufacturers to begin to develop products around the USB 3.0 protocol.
In a nutshell, USB 3.0 promises the following:
- Higher transfer rates (up to 4.8 Gbps)
- Increased maximum bus power and increased device current draw to better accommodate power-hungry devices
- New power management features
- Full-duplex data transfers and support for new transfer types
- New connectors and cables for higher speed data transfer...although they are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices and computers (more on this later)