Hundreds if not thousands of new gadgets made their debut at the Las Vegas CES last week, including some that will have little or no impact on the CE market. In contrast, the arrival of the latest version of the USB data transfer standard - dubbed SuperSpeed USB 3.0 – was largely overlooked although it is likely to have a big impact on the consumer electronics industry.
It is five years since the USB 2.0 standard was rolled out, providing a common high speed data transfer protocol for a swath of CE devices ranging from external hard drives to smartphones. Since then however, read/write speeds have continued to climb and USB 2.0, which has a maximum theoretical throughput of 480Mbps, has become something of a data transfer bottleneck.
USB 3.0, which can theoretically handle up to 5Gbps is designed to eliminate this bottleneck delivering transfer speeds up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 devices. To put that in perspective, USB 3.0 is fast enough to download 8Gb of photos from a digital camera in just 20 seconds or download a 27Gb HD movie is just over 1 minute.
A Total of 17 USB 3.0-certified products were unveiled at CES including a hard drive from Western Digital which was showing off MyBook 3.0, the first USB 3.0-certified external hard drive. Seagate, LaCie and Iomega are promising traditional portable drives based on the USB 3.0 standard while several manufacturers are also expected to bring USB 3.0 SSDs (Solid State Drives) to market.
USB 3.0 not only provides a much needed speed boost, it is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and uses one-third the power of USB 2.0.