September 23, 2007 Details of the proposed next generation of high-speed USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectors have been unveiled. The planned USB 3.0 system will target a transfer speed of 4.8 gigabits per second, ten times that of USB 2.0 models. Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, NEC and NXP Semiconductors have formed the USB 3.0 Promoter Group to make the high-speed connection a reality, with final USB 3.0 specification scheduled to be released in the first half of 2008 and backward-compatible products hitting shelves as early as 2009.
The tenfold increase in transfer power is the result of incorporating a second channel into the USB design. In addition to the standard copper channel, which ensures its back-compatibility with USB 2.0 systems, the USB 3.0 will contain fiber optic technology, which enables far greater transfer efficiency. USB 3.0 will also enjoy greater levels of energy efficiency than its predecessor and the technology is likely to be initially available in discrete silicon products.
"USB 3.0 is the next logical step for the PC's most popular wired connectivity," said Jeff Ravencraft, technology strategist with Intel and president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). "The digital era requires high-speed performance and reliable connectivity to move the enormous amounts of digital content now present in everyday life. USB 3.0 will meet this challenge while maintaining the ease-of-use experience that users have come to love and expect from any USB technology."
According to Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, 6.2 billion USB devices have been shipped since 2001, and 2.1 billion of these were delivered in 2006.
Further reading on the ongoing development of the system can be found at www.usb.org.