Sunday, 15 September 2013

USB 3.1 – The New “Super Speed USB 10 Gbps”

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s that defines the cables, connectors and communications protocols used in a bus for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and electronic devices.

So far till August 3, 2013 the USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) has launched successfully different versions of USB like: USB 1.0, USB 2.0 or Hi-Speed USB, USB On-The-Go, USB 3.0 or Superspeed USB.

Almost every computer or device we have has a USB port on it.  It has become the de facto format for connecting peripherals to computers and is even used as the charging socket on mobile phones. Though many of us still don’t have Laptops or PCs with USB 3.0 and the USB 3.0 was just gaining its popularity among its users, but now Eat your heart out, Thunderbolt.

Kudos and High-fives to the USB-IF, who on August 3, 2013 announced that it has completed the USB 3.1 specification. The new spec supports data transfer speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, the same as the Thunderbolt interface currently found on all current model Macs.

The added throughput compared to regular USB 3.0 is made possible via more efficient data encoding, allowing the USB 3.1 spec to reach speeds twice as high over enhanced, fully backward compatible USB connectors and cables.

What is new in USB 3.1:
The USB 3.1 or Superspeed USB 10 Gbps by its name implies that it add enhancements to USB 3.0 or Superspeed USB to operate at up to 10 Gbps.

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“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,” said Brad Saunders (PDF), USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “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.”

Compared to Thunderbolt, Intel’s high-speed data interface is still faster, offering speeds of 10 Gbps per channel for a total of 20 Gbps. Thunderbolt can also take advantage of daisy chaining, something USB can’t do. However, USB is a much more widely adopted standard, giving it a significant edge in compatibility.

USB 3.1 will supplant “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0, which is limited to 5 Gbps. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group says that more efficient data encoding is used in 3.1, enabling the higher speed. As before, USB 3.1 will be backwards-compatible with older USB devices.

USB 3.1 should enjoy widespread adoption as an interface standard, just as previous implementations have. USB 3.1′s backward compatibility ensures it’s acceptance from most camps. It’s ubiquitous use as a charging and syncing interface for mobile devices guarantees it’s going to be around for the long run.

Utilizing five power profiles defined in the USB Power Delivery Specification, the USB 3.1 will allow devices with larger energy demands to request higher currents and supply voltages from compliant hosts, up to 2 A at 5 V (for a power consumption of up to 10 W) and optionally up to 5 A at either 12 V (60 W) or 20 V (100 W).

The new spec will also come with a logo featured as "SuperSpeed+". Vanilla USB 3.0 is referred to as "SuperSpeed," while USB 2.0 is merely "Hi-speed."

While the finalized spec has been announced by the USB-IF and the USB Promoter Group will be holding developer conferences in August, October, and December to promote the standard, it will still be quite a while before the user can see the actual USB 3.1 ports in your hardware. Also in addition to new controllers, the new spec will require new USB 3.1-compatible accessories to achieve full 10Gbps speeds.

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