What’s The Deal With USB 3.0?

Posted on June 24, 2010


You probably have a USB device (or two) plugged into your computer at any given time. Your mouse is probably USB, as is your Keyboard. Even some microphones (like the one I use) are USB! USB is usually something that we take for granted, but what makes it tick? And what’s all this hype about “USB 3.0”? Well, before we get into USB 3.0, I might as well give you a little USB history lesson.

USB first emerged in November 1994 as a USB 0.7 pre-release. After that, in December 1994, the USB 0.8 pre-release was out. Skip forward one year, and you have the USB 1.0 release candidate, in November 1995. Shortly afterwards, in early 1996, the final version of USB 1.0 hit the market. USB 1.0 was a proprietary plugin used to connect devices to computers, it started off with a blistering 12 mbps transfer rate (which was fast for 1996), but the general public still shied away from it. In 1999, an update called USB 1.1 fixed some of the common issues with USB 1.0, and USB started to become more widely adopted by the public.

Jump forward four years, and you have the advent of USB 2.0, in April 2000. With a “high speed” 480 mbps transfer rate, it was about 40 times faster than the original USB 1.0, which was quickly left to rot in exchange for 2.0. USB 2.0 also included the ability to charge devices, a feature never seen in 1.0, and one that was quickly scooped up by the public. USB 2.0 is still the common format for today.

However, 2010 is the dawn of a new era, for USB 3.0 has been officially released at this year’s CES show in Las Vegas. The major new feature it it’s “superspeed” bus, which is capable of achieving a mouthwatering 5.0 gbps transfer speed, faster than any USB device seen before!

“But I’m fine with USB 2! Why should I upgrade?” . Well, there are many new useful applications for USB 3.0. Some manufacturers are already planning on making external hard drives fast enough to do an entire system backup in 20 minutes, a task that when tested on a normal USB 2.0 drive, took 2 hours.

How do you upgrade? Well, I’ll admit that’s easier said then done for the average computer user. You’ll need to first make sure that your motherboard will support it, then if it does, move on to the actual upgrade. Buy a new USB 3.0 card (which you can get for around $50) and plug it in to your motherboard’s PCI Express slot. Do a system reboot and install new drivers. there, you’re ready to experience superspeed!

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