Need for Speed

USB 3.0 offers fast data transfer speeds to consumers, but there are chalenges that have to be removed

As per an IDC report, the amount of digital data created worldwide could hit 988 billion gigabytes by 2010. With such tremendous increase in data, users have to spend too much time waiting for large files to transfer between a computer and an external hard drive, making seconds feel like minutes, and minutes like hours. USB 2.0 (the current standard used in all USB/flash drives that helps in the transfer of data) offers a maximum speed of 480 Mbps. Moreover, one can easily find a USB pen drive that is 64GB in size and now even cell phone and PDAs are available with a couple of GB internal storage. With 480Mbps transfer speed of data currently offered by USB 2.0 today, people often complain about the time they have to wait to transfer large files. This is where the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 can play a major role.

USB 3.0 offers maximum transfer speed of 5Gbps per second, which is almost 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The high transfer speed offered by USB 3.0 can allow one to transfer heavy files, say a 20GB file in a few seconds. Explaining the technological concept behind the device, Vishal Tripathi, Principal Research Analyst at Gartner says that USB 3.0 achieves its high transfer rates by using four additional wires in the data cable for a total of six wires. It supports full-duplex communication, or the ability to send and receive data simultaneously, and is power efficient. Most importantly, it is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices, wherein the new cable dramatically improves throughput speed.

Gigabyte (P55A series motherboards), Asus, Seagate, Fujitsu, Buffalo Technologies, etc are some of the early adopters to incorporate these interfaces in their line of products.

Market trends

The increasing quest for higher transfer speed will be the key growth driver for the USB 3.0. Industry watchers believe that USB 3.0 can popularly be called the next generation interface for transferring data and a tremendous surge in its adoption is expected in the next couple of years. Customers today want fast transfer of data and thus if they will get an option for USB 3.0 (i.e. much faster data transfer), they will automatically want to have the latest technology, opines Shivratan Agarwal, Branch Head, Rashi Peripherals, Ahmedabad. He further expresses that although there aren't a large number of products available today with USB 3.0 interface, many are expected to be launched soon, like USB 3.0 flash drives, portable HDDs, etc. Ultimately, most storage products will see this transition and USB 3.0 would certainly replace USB 2.0 over a period of time, he says.

Most data storage hardware manufacturers have announced their plans to incorporate the technology in their upcoming product portfolio. Moreover, more high-bandwidth devices are expected to migrate to the new interface and SSDs/HDD devices will benefit the most from the boost in transfer speed offered by USB 3.0. Gulbir Singh Bhatia, Managing Director, Prime ABGB, Mumbai adds that in future, there will be a lot of video-based devices like cameras and media players, which will come with USB 3.0 interface. The future of USB 3.0 is good as all new external devices for video and audio need faster communication, he says.

Tripathy says that there are motherboards available today with SATA 6Gbps interfaces, which have a PCIe card to provide USB 3.0 capabilities. Moreover, in future, the interface will even be incorporated in domains like high-resolution webcams, Blu-Ray drives, motherboards, LCD monitors and digital cameras, he says.

On the same lines, Harikrishnan PK, Alltime Power Technologies, Cochin, says that there are a host of motherboards available today with USB 3.0. Some external hard disks interfaces have also been announced with USB 3.0, though the products are yet to hit the Indian market. External devices like HDDs, modem, and, wireless products will also gain from USB 3.0.

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