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USB 3.0 Edges Closer

Anyway you look at it, the USB 2.0 format has been a great success. The Universal Serial Port has become the de facto standard for connecting cameras, MP3 players, external hard drives and other accessories to modern computers. But like all things computer related, USB will have to progress and improve in order to survive. Enter USB 3.0.

A consortium of computer hardware manufacturers known as the USB Promoter Group has finalized the standards and protocols for the long-awaited update to the USB format. The group claims that USB 3.0 will be a “superspeed” interface, capable of transferring as much as 25 GB of data in just over a minute.

The group is currently doing a review of the specifications and the technology behind the new USB format, and according to CNet.com, they have finalized the specifications.

The first devices available to test out the new format will likely be external flash drives, or solid-state drives that use no moving parts. Data storage devices, flash drives, MP3 players and cameras will be the first consumer products to feature the speedy USB 3.0 interface.

But don’t rush out to buy one just yet. The USB Promoter Group estimates that the debut USB 3.0 consumer devices will begin appearing sometime in 2010, though a few high-end external drives may use the format by the end of 2009.

USB 2.0 represented a vast improvement over the original USB 1.0 format, with data transfer speeds approximately the same as the now declining FireWire format. But the group is suggesting that version 3.0 will be an even bigger change, and will once again revolutionize how consumers use their computers and external devices.

Of course, the most important change to the format is the increase in speed — in fact, a vast increase. According to the USB Promoter Group specifications, version 3.0 should be approximately 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

To get an idea just how fast the format will be, considered this example:

To transfer a 25 GB high-definition film from a computer to an external hard drive via USB 1.0 would take more than nine hours. To transfer the same film via USB 2.0 would require less than 14 minutes. But to transfer the film via the new USB 3.0 format will take only 70 seconds.

As computers and high-speed Internet connections get faster, it is critical that our computer interfaces (like USB) are able to keep up. More and more people are downloading movies and other large files online, and this trend is on the increase according to statistics. The high-speed USB 3.0 format will be a welcome addition to the Web 2.0 (or 3.0?) age of computing. It’s just a shame it won’t be available sooner.

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