In what could possibly be the most overlooked announcement at CES, the USB Promoter Group today announced the development of improvements to the USB 3.0 standard. Right now, USB 3.0 is capable of speeds up to 5 Gbps, which translates to 625MB/s transfer rate.
Currently, the only competitor to USB 3.0 in terms of performance and throughput is Thunderbolt from Apple/Intel. However, Thunderbolt is a proprietary standard and the cables actually have a chip inside of them which drives up the cost of the cables and makes getting non-branded cables nearly impossible. We at BSN* wholeheartedly believe that USB 3.0 is and should be the future of direct compute connectivity. Thunderbolt currently supports 10 Gbps, which is faster than the current USB 3.0. Having 10 Gbps enables theoretical transfer speeds of over 1GB/s and allows for daisy chaining of devices, both data and display.
Now, USB 3.0 will be capable of 10 Gbps with this new update. What this enables, is similar to what Thunderbolt can do, without the proprietary nature of the cables nor any change to the physical attributes to the connector. The connector of the new USB 3.0 standard is actually identical to the current one. The only thing that changes are the chips powering these ports. The new USB 3.0 will be compatible with existing USB 3.0 software stacks and device protocols.
What wasn’t stated in the PR release was that the new USB 3.0 standard also brings significant improvements to the ability of transferring power over USB. Currently, USB 3.0 sacrifices the ability to transfer power over USB for higher throughput (5 Gbps). It only supports a maximum of 4.5w which means that many USB 3.0 hubs likely require a power source.
At their booth today, the USB Promoter Organization showed off the ability to not only transfer a video (using DisplayLink) over USB to a monitor, but to simultaneously charge that laptop using the USB cable from the monitor. This solution, they stated, would enable for 65w of power to go from the monitor to charge the laptop, meaning that you would essentially only need one cable to connect everything to your laptop, both power and display.
The developments that we saw from the USB Promoter Organization were impressive and quite real and we cannot wait to see new devices utilizing this new updated USB 3.0 standard. They didn’t give us a timeframe on the delivery of these devices, but once we find out, we will be sure to keep you updated. This could be the biggest thing that ever happened to USB and it was very quiet.