Next-gen USB standard will boost data transfers to 10GB/second

USB 3.1 will be backwards compatible with both USB 2.0 and 3.0

The consortium responsible for the USB has announced that the next enhancement of the industry standard (USB 3.1) will operate at speeds of up to 10Gbps.

The new update will be completely backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 3.0 and will offer “more efficient data encoding and […] twice the effective data through-put performance of existing SuperSpeed USB”.

Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports were introduced in the late-1990s and were designed to standardize how peripherals connected to computers. Developed by a group of seven companies (including Microsoft, Intel and IBM) the first iteration of USB ran at a top speed of 12 Mbits.

The last upgrade to USB (USB 3.0) was introduced in 2008 and was known as SuperSpeed. Identified by blue colouring on ports and plugs, SuperSpeed has a data transfer rate of 4 Gbps. The new standard will be branded as SuperSpeed+.

“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,” said Emile Ianni, Corporate Vice President of Platform Solutions Engineering, AMD.

USB dominates computers as a recognisable and ubiquitous standard, and the new SuperSpeed+ confirms its dominance. The only real competition would be from Apple’s Thunderbolt standard.

In its most recent update Thunderbolt 2 data speeds were moved up to double that of USB 3.1 at ‘blisteringly fast’ 20Gbps. However, a limited product base, a virtually Mac-only ecosystem and high prices mean that Thunderbolt will never truly compete with USB.

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