What is USB 3.0?

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 | technology

Do you know what USB 3.0 is?  Rashed Khan offered to do a guest blog posting on this topic for those of you who are interested in staying up to date with the latest technologies.  Rashed says:

I think it is safe to say that my dad knows literally nothing about computers (sorry dad) but even he has heard about and knows what USB is, in fact I believe it is quite rare to find someone who has not heard of USB (Universal Serial Bus) as it has quickly become the most commonly used peripheral bus used on computers and laptops today. Just about anything that connects to your computer or laptop connects via a USB port whether it is a digital camera, a Mobile Phone or even a digital photo frame.

The new USB 3.0 adds a number of additional benefits but before we look at this, let’s take a brief look at the history of USB to determine why it has done so well.

How did USB come about?

IBM started off the revolution of implementing removal media into their computers by creating the keyboard which (unlike the previous keyboards) was not attached to the computer itself but was to be connected to it via a port called the AT Keyboard port. The concept of being able to detach Computer hardware (keyboard, mouse etc.) became an instant hit and many computer manufacturers followed the trend by adding their own ports which could do the same job as IBM’s AT Keyboard port. However, during the mid-90’s a problem was arising in the fact that more or less every manufacturer had their own port so if you had a keyboard made by one manufacturer, you would not be able to use it on a computer made by another manufacturer

USB was created during the early 90’s but its success really began to escalate during 1996 when it was marketed as the single Peripheral which would be used universally by all the manufacturers. Many manufacturers jumped on the USB bandwagon by adding USB ports as well as their own ports on their computers and Apple completely dropped their old ADB ports in order to introduce USB ports on all their computers during 1998. By the year 2000, it became rare to find a computer which did not have a USB port. One of the key benefits with USB was that it was able to power small devices requiring up to half an amp at 5 Volts which has introduced a whole host of unusual devices to be powered by USB such as USB Record players, USB podcast studios and even USB rechargeable batteries!

USB 2.0

USB was re-designed in order to optimise its performance during 2006 and was called USB 2.0. The key benefit of USB 2.0 was that it had a much faster transfer rate than the old USB 1.0 as it was 40 times faster. A faster data transfer rate means that the user does not have to wait as long for data to be transferred from their removable device to the computer.

Arguably one of the key factors in the success of the USB 1.0 was that (unlike the other ports) it did not have any compatibility issues, which is why USB 2.0 was made backwards compatible. This meant that USB 1.0 products could be connected to a USB 2.0 port and would still work but would run at the speed of USB 1.0 rather than at the faster speed of USB 2.0.

Enter USB 3.0

The new USB 3.0 boasts a massive transfer rate of a maximum of a huge 5 Gbps! This makes it around 10 times faster than the old USB 2.0 which still has a respectable transfer rate speed of up to 480Mps.

A new feature of USB 3.0 is that it only transmits data to the port that needs the data which means that USB ports that are not currently being used can go into an energy saving state thus helping to reduce power consumption.

Support for USB 3.0 is quickly becoming widespread as a number of the new computer are now supporting it and if you want to get hold of a device with the new USB 3.0 hardware, look out for the SuperSpeed certified logo.

I thank Rashed for this explanation of USB 3.0.

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3 Comments to What is USB 3.0?

Pat
Sunday, 3 April, 2011

Thanks for this information! I found it very helpful! I always wondered how to explain the USB port to my husband and never could. Your explanation was clear and concise that an average person could understand it! I really enjoy your blog so keep up the great work!

Christo Davids
Monday, 4 April, 2011

Great posting! At the schools where we train we find that almost every teacher has a flash drive, but many are still ignorant about the device. For this reason we’ve included the use of flash drives in our training. Just a question. Over the years I’ve picked up that the quality of flash drives differs. Some get quickly corrupt and some even break easily. How can you determine its quality? Is there a recommended brand? I ask this question as I see that flash drives are now even sold on street corners.

Rashed
Tuesday, 5 April, 2011

Hi Christo Davids.

I’m glad that you like my guest blog. I totally agree with you when you say that there is a big difference in the quality of USB sticks but the problem is that manufacturers don’t give you much information on the quality of a memory stick so you cant really compare them.

I would look for one that is compatible with USB 3.0 but this will just give you a faster data transfer rate and will not make it any more reliable. 99% of new memory sticks are formatted using the FAT32 system but you can try formatting your memory stick using the NTFS system as this is more stable (not as fast though so there is a trade-off). This post would be too long if I was to explain how to do this but it is not very difficult and you can find out how to do this by doing a quick google search.

In terms of brands, stick with companies who specialise in removable media so Corsair and Sandisk are good options.

Aside from the reliability of the hardware I would go for one with a rubbery shell (Corsair have a good range of these). This is because dropping a memory stick too many times can cause data corruption (this is what happened to mine). This is very rare now since memory sticks now have very little in the way of moving parts and it will only corrupt your data if dropped several times over a period of a few years.

Hope this helps

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