USB Specification

USB 3.1 specifications upgrade moves up to speeds of 10 Gbps

USB 3.1 specifications upgrade moves up to speeds of 10 Gbps

The group behind USB 3.0 has completed its next round in the series, USB 3.1, opening the door to a much faster, leaner format. The new specification still needs Intel, AMD and other chipmakers to begin supporting SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps in the chips they make, after which hardware makers will create devices using the higher speeds. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has predicted that devices using the new specification would begin appearing in late 2014, but won’t really start showing up in numbers until mid 2015.

Still, it’s time to get excited. The USB standards division has completed its specification of USB 3.1, which will double USB data transfer speeds from the current 5 Gbps up to 10 Gbps. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced a few weeks back that it had fully completed the new specification, which would initially provide upgrades all around for the existing SuperSpeed USB specification. SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps is designed to provide a more efficient data encoding and to deliver more than twice as much data as the current SuperSpeed USB specification, while also including enhanced but backward-compatible USB connectors and cables. Representatives from the group have noted that the standard will be compatible with existing USB 3.0 software and device relevant products/services class protocols, in addition to existing 5 Gbps hubs and devices and USB 2.0 products.

Brad Saunders, chairman of the USB 3.0 promoter group, said in a statement that the specification “primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer as 10 Gbps.”

Representatives from Hewlett-Packard Relevant Products/Services, Intel, Texas Instruments and AMD have issued statements in support of the protocol. Emile Ianni, corporate vice president of Platform Solutions Engineering at AMD, noted that his company recognizes, “in this multi-device world, the USB 3.1 updates will enable end-users to move content across devices quickly, conveniently and without worrying about compatibility.”

The current session of promoter’s group members include:

  • HP Relevant Products/Services
  • Intel
  • Microsoft Relevant Products/Services
  • Renesas Electronics
  • ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments

The organization previously developed the USB 3.0 specification that came out in late 2008, and is involved in maintaining that specification while also providing enhancements for various platforms.

The new specification will still require that the supporters, Intel, AMD and other chipmakers to chime in SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps along the chips they make, after which hardware makers will create devices using the higher speeds.

The initial announcement for the USB 3.1 specification came in January, highlighting the faster data transfer speed and other improvements for the Universal Serial Bus at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The group as also predicted that the devices using the new specification would begin appearing in late 2014, but will not really start showing up in larger number until 2015. Although the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec was completed in 2008, it didn’t really become a significant market presence until four years later in 2012, when it was standardized in Intel’s hardware.

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