infoTECH Feature

January 10, 2011

USB 3.0 Gaining Fast Momentum

There are some who have been painstakingly waiting for USB 3.0 and its faster bandwidth speeds. Now, according to this PC World report, it seems that the buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is touting that USB 3.0 adoption is proceeding ahead of where its predecessor was one year after its own launch.

USB 3.0 promises speed and ease in delivering high-def video, music and digital imaging applications between devices. Another improvement in USB 3.0 is in energy conservation. The device will only transmit data to devices that need it, so devices can go into lower power state when not needed. The USB 3.0 spec uses one-third the power of the USB 2.0.

There is also a speed difference -- a theoretical 10X jump over existing USB 2.0 hardware. USB 2.0 maxed out at a theoretical 480Mbps, while USB 3.0 can theoretically handle as much as 5Gbps. Applications like storage will still be limited to the type of drive inside, of course, so better performance can be expected from RAIDed type hard drives or fast solid-state drives.

Jeff Ravencraft, head of the USB Implementers Forum, told PC World that the big thing in this space is that a little over a year ago, there was only one certified product and it was a component piece of USB silicone from NEC (News - Alert)/Renesys. Over the last year, USB has released more than 165 certified products, such as motherboards, support for add-in cards, notebooks and hard drives. There are also more products in the market that don’t get certified.

At last year’s CES, there were 17 USB products introduced and now, with a second certified host controller chip introduced to enable USB on other devices, there is more choice in suppliers and more competition in price – which will help to drive market activity.

According to Ravencraft, NEC was set to ship 20 million controllers in 2010, and Gigabyte shipped 5 million USB 3.0-enabled motherboards by the end of 2010. He considers market adoption to be phenomenal -- the fastest adoption of any technology he has been involved with.

The PC World report suggests that 2011 will bring erosion to the higher price for USB 3.0 products as the price curve for components required to enable USB 3.0 has fallen. Consumers are advised to watch for big box retailers to move USB 2.0 products off the shelves in the coming shelf reset to make way for 3.0.

Support for USB 3.0 among PCs and laptops seems to be apparent at CES as a number of manufacturers offering Intel (News - Alert) are now also adding USB 3.0 support. When looking for other devices with support, consumers are advised to be patient.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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