USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) is Fast! What to Expect and When

usb 3.0 superspeed logoAlthough the specs for USB 3.0 were nailed down in late 2008, production of devices that support or run USB 3.0 have really only now started showing up. Here’s a bit of insight as to what you can expect in the next 2 years.

At CES, a few manufacturers showed off their USB 3.0 wares. In particular, a few like Gigabyte and Asus have motherboards with USB 3.0 ports, while laptop makers HP, Asus and others joined the party, and of course external hard-drive makers like Western Digital and Seagate had their new gadgets with USB 3.0.

Unfortunately, Intel isn’t about to support USB 3.0 until 2011, which is ironic given their large role in the development of USB.

While you’ll see a trickle of products this year (2010), it’s not going to do you a lot of good, until you switch your computer to a USB 3.0-capable one. However, if you are planning to upgrade, then we definitely recommend you shell out extra (or wait) for USB 3 support.

So let’s get down to brass tacks – what can you expect in the speed department? Well, let’s caveat this upfront by saying that speed measurement can be a sticky and hotly-argued subject, so take this with a grain of salt. Bottom line is that USB 3.0 is waaaay faster than USB 2.0.

USB 2.0’s theoretical max speed is 480Mbits/sec, while USB 3.0’s raw max speed is 4.0Gbits/sec – that’s almost 10x as fast. In reality, once you include overhead, you may be left with 3.2Gbps, and of course, you’ll only go as as fast as your sender/receiver.
But just imagine going at a conservative 200Mbytes/sec… that’s equivalent to transferring approximately 50 MP3 tunes per second, or an entire 4.7GB DVD in 24 seconds!

One final thought – we can’t help but laugh at the naming of USB 3.0 – SuperSpeed? What’s USB 4.0 going to be called – UberSpeed? 😉

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