Fasten your seatbelts. A standards organization has completed its specification of USB 3.1, which will double maximum USB data transfer speeds from the current 5 Gbps up to 10 Gbps.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced Thursday that it had completed the spec, which provides enhancements for the existing SuperSpeed USB specification. SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps is designed to provide more efficient data encoding and to deliver twice as much data as the current SuperSpeed USB, using enhanced but backward-compatible USB connectors and cables.
The group said that the standard will be compatible with existing USB 3.0 software stacks and device class protocols, in addition to existing 5 Gbps hubs and devices and USB 2.0 products.
Extends USB 3.0
Brad Saunders, chairman of the USB 3.0 promoter group, said in a statement that the specification "primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer as 10 Gbps."
Representatives from Hewlett-Packard , Intel , Texas Instruments and AMD have issued statements in support of the protocol. Emile Ianni, corporate vice president of Platform Solutions Engineering at AMD, for instance, told news media his company recognizes that, "in this multi-device world, the USB 3.1 updates will enable end-users to move content across devices quickly, conveniently and without worrying about compatibility."
The promoter group's members include HP , Intel, Microsoft , Renesas Electronics, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments. The organization previously developed the USB 3.0 specification that came out in late 2008, and is involved in maintaining that specification and in providing enhancements for various platforms.
The new spec still needs Intel, AMD and other chipmakers to begin supporting SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps in the chips they make, after which hardware makers will create devices using the higher speeds.
The Promoter Group announced the faster spec for Universal Serial Bus at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The group has predicted that devices using the new spec would begin appearing in late 2014, but won't really start showing up in numbers until 2015. Although the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec was completed in 2008, it didn't really become a significant market presence until four years later in 2012, when it was standardized in Intel's hardware.
In January, the group said that some existing SuperSpeed USB cables might work for the new standard, although they are not yet certified at 10 Gbps per second.
USB has been a tremendously successful standard, appearing on countless varieties of electronic gear, but you never have enough speed in computing .
Last month, Intel announced that the next generation of its Thunderbolt data transfer standard would be officially called Thunderbolt 2. It will offer 20 Gbps throughput and support for the better-than-HD next generation of video resolution, 4K. Intel has said that Thunderbolt should begin showing up in the market some time in 2013. Thunderbolt is standard on Mac computers, and is available on more than 30 PCs and motherboards worldwide.