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Summary Edit

USB 3.0 is the next generation of the ground breaking, universal interface of the typical USB 2.0 that is so widespread.  This interface allows for transfer rates up to 4.8gbs which is about 10x as fast as a normal USB.  The major breakthrough is 3.0 can dual transfer information, meaning upload and download simutaneously.  It is also more effecient, which allows for quicker device charging and less wasted energy.

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Background Edit

"The USB 1.0 specification was introduced in 1996. It was intended to replace the multitude of connectors at the back of PCs, as well as to simplify software configuration of communication devices. The original USB 1.0 specification had a data transfer rate of 12 Mbit/s.
USB was created by a core group of companies that consisted of Compaq, Digital, IBM, Intel, Northern Telecom and Microsoft.  Intel produced the UHCI host controller and open software stack; Microsoft produced a USB software stack for Windows and co-authored the OHCI host controller specification with National Semiconductor andCompaq; Philips produced early USB-Audio; and Texas Instruments produced the most widely used hub chips. The USB 2.0 specification was released in April 2000 and was standardized by the USB-IF at the end of 2001. Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent Technologies(now Alcatel-Lucent following its merger with Alcatel in 2006), Microsoft, NEC, and Philips jointly led the initiative to develop a higher data transfer rate than the 1.0 specification (480 Mbit/s vs 12 Mbit/s).
The USB 3.0 specification was released on November 12, 2008 by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group. Its maximum transfer rate is up to 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 release. It has been dubbed the SuperSpeed USB.Equipment conforming to any version of the standard will also work with version 3.0 conforming equipment in most cases — USB 3.0 standard connectors have introduced some new incompatibilities. However, the device is designed to work with any previous specification at the maximum speed of the prior equipment, not 3.0. There is thus substantial backward compatability." [1]

Capabilities Edit

"Superspeed USB (as USB 3.0 is called) supports a maximum data rate of 4.8 gigabits per second, compared with 480 megabits per second for Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0). That amounts to a theoretical maximum of 600 megabytes per second--it's way faster than most hard drives, and it's coming just in time for a wave of newer and speedier solid-state drives. To give you an idea of how fast that is, it's the equivalent of moving almost one full CD's worth of data in 1 second.
USB 3.0 achieves those speeds with a new plug and cable format, but it's all backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1. Plug in your old device, and it will still work (at the older speed). Plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 port, and it will run at the slower speed.
What's more, the USB 3.0 protocol is now full-duplex: Devices can send and retrieve data simultaneously, which wasn't true with USB 1.1 and 2.0. Lower operating voltages and the elimination of broadcasting and polling (methods that the previous USB standards used to communicate with all attached devices) should make USB hosts draw less power, but a higher maximum carried voltage should help you charge your portable devices more quickly." [2]

With the advancements of 3.0 you will be able to expand the capabilities of devices that really tax the capabilities of the USB 2.0

 -External hard drives - capable of more than twice the throughput available from USB 2.0, not to mention bus-powered portable drives that require non-compliant Y-cables to get the current they require for reliable operation
-High resolution webcams, video surveillance cameras
-Video display solutions, such as DisplayLink USB video technology
-Digital video cameras and digital still cameras with USB interface
-Multi-channel audio interfaces

-External media such as Blu-Ray drives


Compatability Edit

As with any new hardware introduction, software will have to step its game up in order to allow the user to fully exploit the new hardware capabilities.  USB 3.0 does not have the normal compatability issues, since the female side of the cable on the motherboard, still functions with USB 2.0. 

Expected Launch and Potential Obstacles: (11/14/09) Edit

"The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced today that the USB 3.0 specification has been finalized, some 14 months (almost to the day) after Intel first demonstrated a prototype USB 3.0 device. The new standard isn't expected to start headlining on motherboards until the latter half of 2009 (at the earliest), with compliant devices hopefully appearing sometime in 2010. Expect USB 3.0-compliant motherboards to command a fair premium for the privilege; motherboard manufacturers will jump at the chance to differentiate themselves via support for the new, Super Speed interface.
Those of you hoping that the USB group would seize this chance to adopt a naming scheme that wasn't invented by six year-olds can commence weeping. Super-Speed USB 3.0, with its transfer rate of 4.8Gbps will join High-Speed (USB 2.0, 480Mbps), Full Speed, (USB 1.0, 12Mbitps) and Low Speed (USB 1.0, 1.5Mbps) on the list of easily understood USB standards. Anyone care to take an early stab at USB 4.0's eventual moniker? "Ultra Speed," "Xtreme Speed," or "OMGWTF Speed," all seem to be strong possibilities.
The road from prototype to finalized specification was marred by a few bumps, including a challenge from AMD and NVIDIA that Intel was unfairly sitting on the new standard's draft certification. USB 3.0 isn't just a faster implementation of USB 2.0—the new standard will support a more flexible power scheme, including support for reduced power operation and an idle power mode, but several core concerns appear to have gone unaddressed. USB 3.0 sockets are apparently limited to providing just 500mA of power (unchanged from USB 2.0), and the bus will remain relatively CPU-intensive." [3]
Even though 3.0 will be reverse compatable the limitation will be how quickly hardware will develop to support this development.  Ansus has just introduced the very first USB 3.0 motherboard.  Motherboard  It is the first of its kind and I'm sure it will not be the best overall package, but they have beat the others to the punch.  Sometimes that can be all you need to get the attention of the technology savy computer user.

Ansus overview

References Edit