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USB SuperSpeed + specification approved as USB 3.1 / 10GBS


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USB SuperSpeed + specification approved as USB 3.1

John Callaham


If you bought a new Windows PC in the last couple of years, the chances are good it has a USB 3.0 port inside. This week, the group that controls the USB specifications approved an even faster version of USB which increases its top data speed transfer rate up to 10 Gbps, compared to the current 5 Gbps.


Previously known as USB SuperSpeed +, the new specification will now be known as USB 3.1. Any such port will be backwards compatible with current USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices. Brad Saunders, the Chairman of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman, stated:

The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps ... The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development.

There's no word yet on when the first PCs with USB 3.1 ports will be released, but the Promoter Group will be holding developer events in the US in August, Ireland in October and somewhere in Asia in December to help assist in the creation of products made for the new standard.
Intel's rival port technology, Thunderbolt, already has support for 10 Gbps transfer speeds but so far only a few Windows PCs have adopted the technology, although it's included in most of Apple's new Macs. The next version of the port, Thunderbolt 2, will increase those data speeds to 20 Gbps and will become available slowly by the end of 2013.
Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group | Image via USB 3.0 Promoter Group

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USB 3.0 is pretty darn fast in my experience, although I've heard that in testing, USB 2.0 devices perform better/faster when connected to USB 2.0 ports than they do when connected to USB 3.0 ports, something worth considering, especially since most peripherals out there (particularly flash drives) are USB 2.0, not USB 3.0.

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