Early product plans are now emerging for the new SuperSpeed USB or USB 3.0 standard. Rick Merritt of EE Times offered a glimpse at the state of the technology as companies gathered for the Superspeed USB Developers Conference in San Jose, CA. I'm still not sure why Intel is so insistent on pursuing a speed upgrade to a technology that as never very elegant or robust. I do appreciate the convenience of USB, but it has never approached its specified performance. Will USB 3.0 be different?
USB3.0 news has been percolating for months. Back in August, Intel released the spec for a controller chip. Leading up to the developers conference, Synopsys announced USB 3.0 cores, while both Denali and Cadence announced verification IP for chip-design teams.
But let's get back to USB 3.0 and earlier generations. As I covered in a hands-on test of external hard drives, USB 2.0 doesn't come close to its rated speed and pales in comparison to FireWire. Moreover, FireWire is already shiiping in even faster flavors than I test while USB 3.0 will take another year of more to come to market.
I've never understood Intel's reluctance to endorse FireWire. A decade ago there were some brief royalty issues, but that's buried in history now. Alas, even Apple has dropped FireWire in their latest notebook PCs. I think that was a mistake. But I realize that Intel will force USB 3.0 into the market.
I will say that the group has done a better job than I thought possible in somehow getting the new signal pins inside the old connector. If I understand correctly, a USB 3.0 cable will link old or new devices. But I'll bet USB 3.0 products won't come close to the stated 300 Mbyte/sec transfer rates.