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Hands-on Look At USB 3.0, Spec Details Revealed 251

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-ribbons-of-blue dept.
notdagreatbrain writes "Maximum PC dug up some new information about USB 3.0, got their hands on the new connectors, and even took a look inside the new cables. They learned several new details about the next-gen version of the ubiquitous interface. USB Superspeed will be backward compatible with USB 2.0. The maximum speed of the new spec is 4.8Gbps, which is ten times faster than hi-speed. Five new wires are bundled in the cable, four of them used for data transfer (bi-directional transfer is now supported). More power will also be funneled through the line, so you can charge more devices, faster. The wireless USB is also getting upgraded to version 1.1, and will include ultra-wide band frequency support and Near Field Communication for near-instant swipe-based syncing."
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Hands-on Look At USB 3.0, Spec Details Revealed

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  • by martin-k (99343) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:43AM (#24703213) Homepage

    After USB full speed and USB high speed, we now have USB superspeed. What comes next? Hyperspeed? FTL-speed?

    Gotta love the marketing hyperbole...

  • by bucklesl (73547) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:44AM (#24703217) Homepage
    ...for ludicrous speed.
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:45AM (#24703225)

    Yes this is great but have any controls along the lines of "trusted computing" been slipped in to these devices. I ask only because it seems to be the fashion now days to try to put as many controls into new technology as possible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      Yes this is great but have any controls along the lines of "trusted computing" been slipped in to these devices. I ask only because it seems to be the fashion now days to try to put as many controls into new technology as possible.

      Why don't you write to the bodies involved with the development and ask them? If we as consumers don't display our wariness, then why shouldn't the engineers put the "controls" in?

      • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:53AM (#24703295)

        I go the easier route. I just don't buy them.
        Plus slashdot has so many engineers reading it that they're more likely to see it than if I email some companies customer care department.

        • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:10AM (#24704145) Homepage

          I go the easier route. I just don't buy them.

          Really? I'd like to see you NOT buy then new 512GB Disk On Key when it comes out in three years because it uses the USB 3 spec, which may or may not contain content controls.

          Seriously, stop relying on the engineers to come to you, and start writing to them. The same thing goes for Linux software support: if you want Solidworks to run on Linux, then write to the company and tell them that!

  • It's going to break. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:45AM (#24703229) Homepage

    I've seen too many people destroy USB 1 and 2 connectors by repeatedly wiggling the plug out of the sockets to the point where the sockets no longer hold the connector anymore. Now, USB 3 is going to be even deeper, providing even more leverage to ruin the socket with.

    Tip: you can repair the USB 1 and 2 socktet by opening the case, placing a thin, flat object on the OUTSIDE on the socket, and giving the object a light tap. Just enough to bend it slightly inward again. Master this skill before USB 3 becomes mainstream.

    • compared to old connecters USB sockets seem to deal pretty well with this kind of thing.
      Any ideas for how they could make the sockets more durable?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dotancohen (1015143)

        Any ideas for how they could make the sockets more durable?

        Require the socket to be made of a thicker gauge of steel.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)

      This could be fixed if they simply specified the minimum mechanical strength of the sockets and plugs.

      A lot of USB cables and devices have connectors you can bend with finger pressure. That's Ok for things like printers that are unplugged once in a blue moon, but it's not good for things like cameras that are frequently connected and disconnected.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by British (51765)

        When I play a game that uses my SOCOM headset, I have to plug it in otherwise ALL audio routes through it. In order to save wear & tear on the USB port on my case, I just use one of those 7-inch USB extension cables. If I wear that out, no big deal.

        Just wish Windows would let ME turn off & on the headset in software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NormalVisual (565491)
      I've seen too many people destroy USB 1 and 2 connectors by repeatedly wiggling the plug out of the sockets to the point where the sockets no longer hold the connector anymore

      IMO it's because the standard specifies a crappy connector with almost no redeeming values mechanically, other than being easy to plug/unplug. They're practically guaranteed to work themselves loose unless the connection is absolutely left alone. There really needs to be some kind of easy, cheap locking mechanism on par with the
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        There really needs to be some kind of easy, cheap locking mechanism on par with the modular RJ-45 plugs to securely hold the connector in place

        DING DING DING!

        I do live performances using my digital audio workstation, and several of my controllers use USB because it does a nice job of carrying midi data. They do loosen up. On the other hand, when someone (usually me) trips over the cable, it doesn't bring all my hardware crashing down. I just reach down and plug the USB cable back in. I do go through a

        • I do go through a lot of USB cables though.

          The problem is that wiggling destroys the socket, not the replaceable cable.

          • I do go through a lot of USB cables though.

            The problem is that wiggling destroys the socket, not the replaceable cable.

            The solution is to put the extension cable into the socket so it ends with a socket, and if that socket end is destroyed by too many cable changes, you replace it. If you get 100 changes per destroyed socket, you can replace the extension cable 100 times, and if you take more care with that than regular changes, you will get more than 100 changes there.

      • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:07AM (#24704101) Homepage

        RJ-* is great for "plug it in and leave it alone" situations, which it was designed for. However, it is terrible for connections that must be made and broken on a regular basis, which is what USB was designed for. In particular, the plastic locking mechanism is very fragile and prone to snapping off. I'd say that I've seen that more often than even loose USB sockets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reece400 (584378)
      For my desktop I always make a habit of using usb ports on a PCI card for devices that I plug in & out often so that when the connectors become damages I can cheaply & easily replace the card.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Reece400 (584378)
        Using an external USB hub would also work if the bandwidth bottleneck isn't an issue.
    • I've had much more of a problem with the plastic centers breaking off.

      You can still use the plug, but you have to be really careful not to bend the wires or jiggle the connection. I've had that happen on several system, mostly laptops where it's easy for someone to bump the system and push the cables coming out the back into something.

      While they're at it, I wish they could have made them a little easier to see which side is which while leaning upside down behind the back of a desk :) The firewire unbalanced

  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:50AM (#24703263)
    Did an Intel marketing manager get the name superspeed from his or her 4 year-old? Couple that with Core i7 and you've got. . . pretty crappy names. I guess Intel's naming schemes have historically stunk (mostly). Here are my suggestions for USB 4, 5 and 6:

    USB Superduperspeed
    USB Ubersuperduper
    USB Ubersuperdupercalifragalisticexpialdocious
  • and Yet... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:52AM (#24703279) Homepage

    It will still be slower for sustained transfers than Firewire 400.

    The most important part, did they finally make it non CPU intensive?

    I also really want to know what they are targeting with it. as Portable storage has esata which will kick it's butt, and USB2.0 is fine for everything else except video, and we have that standardized on firewire.

    • Re:and Yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:57AM (#24703327)

      It will still be slower for sustained transfers than Firewire 400.

      The most important part, did they finally make it non CPU intensive?

      I doubt it. In order to do that, you'd have to move work out of drivers and into silicon, which is quite a bit more expensive.

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      I see two uses of USB 3.0 connections:

      1) Faster access to external storage devices (though I wonder how it compares against eSATA or IEEE-1394 connections).

      2) Faster transfer of digital video to computer from an HDTV digital camcorder. Mind you, since many HDTV digital camcorders have IEEE-1394 connectors, we may not see new HDTV camcorders sport USB 3.0 connections soon.

      • Re:and Yet... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:14AM (#24703471) Homepage

        Actually HDTV camcorders dont have Firewire. HDV camcorders do.

        real HDTV camcorders have too much bandwidth to use firewire 400 for transfer and record to a medium that can be read in the computer (Redone uses an array of CF cards, pro cameras use a different system)

        The HDV camcorders record low grade Mpeg4 in the same bandwidth that a DV SDTV camcorder uses. It's by loose definition HD by resolution, but the artifacting and quality is so low it's only good for home use.

        I use a Canon HD-G1 $5800 "HD" camcorder.. It's not HD by my definition even though it records 1440X1080i. (1/2 HD is what ALL of them record except for the jvc HD7... yes I have one of those as well)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Uncompressed 720p only needs 79MB/s to transfer. FireWire 400 can get close to 50MB/s in real-world use, so it's certainly possible to stream lossless 720p over FireWire 400. FireWire 800 is fast enough for uncompressed video at this resolution.

          I've only used SD cameras, but they tend to use a variant of MJPEG, so each frame is losslessly compressed but there is no interframe compression. Using something like MJPEG-2000, you can easily stream 1080p over FireWire 800.

          • by Lumpy (12016)

            dude. they record 1440X1080i that is 3:4 HD stretched to 16:9, unacceptable in most pro's books plus the artifacting is horrid, take a shot of a tree blowing in the wind, they turn into blocky messes. HDV is how they do it by throwing away a large amount of the data and compressing the hell out of the video. 1920X1080i at full uncompressed HD WILL NOT work the way they do it with HDV.

            Go pick up a redone camera and play with it, the best, most expensive HDV camera made is utter crap compared to the low

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          The HDV camcorders record low grade Mpeg4 in the same bandwidth that a DV SDTV camcorder uses.

          Perhaps you meant to say "MPEG-4", which would still be wrong.

          HDV [wikipedia.org] is MPEG-2 at up to 25Mbps...I'd hardly call that "low grade". Although it might not do for fast motion, for a movie or TV production it's more than good enough. As a matter of fact, many TV shows use it, especially when portability is important.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sam0737 (648914)

      Replacing the HDMI, DisplayPort...? Oh nevermind, they didn't enforce encryption on the wire, that's probably not what they are targetting.

      Or else Intel would probably get sued by name-not-to-be-mentioned.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hoplite3 (671379)

      They're targeting everyone with USB 2.0 ports now. People with laptops (which is becoming the largest segment of computer users) have USB ports. If they can buy their next external drive as USB 3.0, they can plug it into the computer they currently have, and when they upgrade to a new laptop with USB 3.0, they'll have an instant speed boost. The power-saving nature of 3.0 will also make it attractive to laptop manufacturers looking to boost battery time. Also, once USB 3.0 controllers end up in the majo

    • What makes USB to be so CPU intensive? I though USB supported DMA transfers, which means they can transfer data without the CPU entirely, after the transfer parameters have been set up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The most important part, did they finally make it non CPU intensive?

      Yes. It is interrupt driven rather than polled. Polling was one of the lamest decisions the original USB designers made. For those who don't know the difference, interrupt driven is similar to a phone ringing to get your attention. If it were a polling device, you'd have to pull it out of your pocket every few seconds to see if anyone was calling.

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:53AM (#24703289) Homepage

    From TFA:
    Also, new Mass Storage Device drivers will have to be developed for Windows to take advantage of the spec.

    Either Mac, Linux, Solaris, the BSDs and Symbian already support USB 3.0, or somebody at MaximumPC needs to pull their head out from under Ballmer's ballsack.

    • [...] somebody at MaximumPC needs to pull their head out from under Ballmer's ballsack.

      (Score:5, Informative)

      Best. Moderation. Ever.

  • What happened to 1.0? I've never seen any wireless USB devices for sale.

    If there is such a thing, maybe that explains why it's so hard to find a name-brand Bluetooth mouse anymore...

  • by Manip (656104) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:57AM (#24703323)

    Could someone please explain the point of Wireless USB to me?

    I mean we have WiFi (802.11) for the longer range stuff and Bluetooth for close proximity devices...

    What niche does Wireless USB fit in that the existing technology doesn't?

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:05AM (#24703407)

      It's for when you want to get something off your pen drive and don't want to bother plugging it in!
      Or when someone standing beside you wants to get something off your pen drive without bothering to plug it in!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sam0737 (648914)

      WiFi is a general networking thing, and USB remains to be a point to point between host and one devices thing. Use is also device protocol (use of system drivers allow much greater user experience easier), instead of being just a data transmission protocol as in Wifi.
      The software (and the user interface design) is much simpler with that...

      Like those nasty DHCP, DNS and related failure/exception cases are out of picture. Encryption is also much easier/cleaner to design because the data are never flow between

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      To make money for the vendor who controls the specification and owns key patents?

      Seriously, Wireless USB seems to be pretty much a direct competitor to Bluetooth. It is faster than the current generation of Bluetooth but no faster than the next version of Bluetooth as planned. I get the impression it is intended to be simpler than Bluetooth. Bluetooth as service discovery and connection security features that are practical stumbling blocks for average users. Aside from weaknesses in its protocols, the

    • It can be quite handy when you need to use a USB device that's located physically close to the computer that's using it, but a cable run to the device would be longer than 16 feet.
    • The only LOGICAL use for wireless USB is so that you can charge all your devices without plugging them in... oh, wait... it doesn't charge them...

      Could someone please explain the point of Wireless USB to me?

  • Don't tell me, let me guess. They've figured out something they can call USB 2.0 to convince naÃve buyers to go ahead and buy the stale old stock that's on the retailer shelves.

    A big dayglo orange sticker saying something like "Full Superspeed-compatible USB" or "100% USB 3.0 Ready" or "Works With USB 3.0."

  • Full speed (Score:4, Funny)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:11AM (#24703449)

    The maximum speed of the new spec is 4.8Gbps, which is ten times faster than hi-speed.

    In other news, USB full speed [photoxels.com] will still be 12Mbps.

  • "For Windows" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856)
    From the article: "Also, new Mass Storage Device drivers will have to be developed for Windows to take advantage of the spec.". What does being developed for Windows mean? Does it mean it will work ONLY in Windows? Are drivers for USB 3.0 not usable on other platforms?
    • Aaaah! Please forget my question in the parent post! I misread is as "drives (instead of drivers) have to be developed for Windows only" instead of "windows has to be extended with new drivers". Obviously this will also count for other OSes? :)
  • iNTEL (wimedia [wikipedia.org]) submarined the xStremeSpectrum/Freescale UWB, which was better tech, just so they could own the patents on all the pipes. That, even though Freescale offered theirs royalty-free.

    Now, iNTEL insists on pushing their non-standard UWB into the USB spec.

    USB is one of those "We spec our tech conservatively. Our specs are 100% better than you will obtain." technologies. Wireless USB will spill your data into the ether and USB 3, while bursting to n-gigabit, will barely be able to sustain half a gig continuous with only two devices on the line. And multiple bus controllers is an upgrade, still on the drawing board.

    Save your money. If serial SCSI is overkill, and your device is not on a LAN, get Firewire. Buy printers with ethernet connectors.

    Use USB for keyboards and mice and maybe scanners, like it was intended in the first place.

    iNTEL bites.

  • by atari2600 (545988) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:36AM (#24703657)

    If I had a penny for each time I inserted an USB cable incorrectly, reversed it and probably managed to insert it correctly, I'd be able to afford one of those high end Mac notebooks.

    Looks like the saga will continue with USB3 as the connectors are designed the same. Why can't the connector be designed in such a way that just inserting *would just work* without having to worry about alignment. Too much to ask?

    On the flip side, Tannenbaum would be happy: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of 1TB external drives with USB3 ports hurtling down the highway. Or Ritchie - whoever said that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by smoker2 (750216)
      what you mean like ethernet, or DVI/HDMI, or svideo, or firewire, or serial, or parallel, or IDE, or sata, or even earthed mains ? Christ, even a simple CD needs to be put in the right way up.
      Not everything can be practically wired to a "stereo" jack plug, and even if it were practical, how many times will you jam the wrong thing in the wrong socket, sending +5v the wrong way into an expensive bit of kit ?
      Even nature uses specific "sockets" to ensure the correct usage. Sure you can stick food up your ass, b
      • by atari2600 (545988)

        You are missing the point. Off all the connectors you mentioned (Ethernet, HDMI, Svideo, blah blah blah), most if not all are plug once and forget for most part or keep plugging 100 times in 5minutes till it works and forget it for most part.

        USB devices on the other hand are numerous and most people (cannot cite a source since this is captain obvious territory) plug in and remove their USB devices frequently (many times a day?) - they not only use this for data transfer but also to charge their devices. Oft

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by chaim79 (898507)

        I think he is refering to 'keying' the plug/socket, all those you reference are keyed plugs (RJ45 (ethernet), DVI, svideo, firewire, etc) are all keyed plugs where the key is visible and easy to distinguish, you don't have to be looking directly at one of those plugs to figure out where the key is, and usually you can see the keying for the socket.

        USB decides to be keyed as well, but internally keyed (the key is the shape of the inside of the plug) so you are forced to put the USB logo on one side so people

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 22, 2008 @11:00AM (#24705867) Journal

        S-video is a bad design. Serial and parallel presumably refer to D-type connectors (although both come in DIN and Centronics connectors too). FireWire and D-type connectors can have their orientation easily distinguished by glancing at the connector. So can Ethernet. I can't remember what earthed mains looks like in the USA, but I've never seen someone try to plug in a UK mains cable upside down.

        With USB, you can only tell which way up it should go by either inspecting both ends closely, or by trying both ways. It also seems very easy to have a USB connector the right way up but not have it slide in easily, not push too hard because you don't want to damage the socket, and just turn it around and try the other way. USB is the only socket I've ever seen where it's common for people to take 3-4 tries to get it right.

        Not everything can be practically wired to a "stereo" jack plug

        Stereo audio jacks need a left channel, a right channel, and a return. Some use separate returns for each channel to reduce noise. USB connectors have four wires. There is no reason why you couldn't use a 3.5mm four-wire stereo connector for USB, although you'd probably want to use something slightly bigger so you didn't plug it into an audio jack by mistake. There are large numbers of superior connector designs. Raskin devotes an entire chapter to them in The Humane Interface.

      • by Bryansix (761547)
        Dude, with DVI for instance you can tell because the connector is shaped differently (smaller on one side of the trapezoid). However with USB its a rectangle and only looking at the end (or the logo) and then into the end of the slot will allow you to see which way it goes. That is IF you can even fit your head into the area you need to look at.
      • simple...
        1234
        4321
        wire the jack with a make/female, similar to now, but have the key in the computer exposed on both sides, one reversed of the other... this could be done in such a way that the size is the same, but the socket is slightly bigger to allow for a new jack that is reversible, while still allowing legacy devices, though there would be more wiggle-room, and potential for breakage using old devices in the new socket.

        It would be trivial to expose the same pin-outs on either side in rev
  • That article isn't so hot. It says things like: "Bi-directional data transfer will be very useful for syncing up information on PDAs and storage backup." The data flow on a PDA sync is way too small (and non-interactive) to be helped by full duplex communications. It also says "bumped the power output from about 100miliamps to 900 milliamps." The current limit is 500 mA. Bumping to 900 mA is pretty worthless.
  • (yes, I know it's a different standard)

    I haven't ever seen a "wireless USB" product in stores, so why should I care about "Wireless USB" when Bluetooth already provides a wireless equivalent of USB?

  • If you haven't looked at the USB spec [usb.org], please do. It's one of those well-intentioned structures that's suffering from design-by-committee. Unfortunately, the design committee was wearing blinders, and completely missed the requirements of any device that requires decent real-time response. Yes Virginia, your USB gamepad requires a very different interface structure than your USB hard drive. So there are exceptions ... and the exceptions out number the spec requirements. That's generally a "bad thing,"
    • by coryking (104614) *

      Distributing power via the USB connector is a redeeming quality, but that's about it.

      I'm gonna design my new motherboard without USB because I think the technical specs suck. Yeah, the business weenies keep saying "nobody will buy it because it doesn't have USB", but they are just clueless newbies who dont understand my l33t hardware design skills. Who cares if no device will be able to plug in to my motherboard? Who cares if their cameras won't plug in, they should have been using Firewire. Who cares if their mouse doesn't work with my motherboard, that is what PS2 is for. Who cares i

    • USB had one distinct advantage over FireWire - cheaper licensing. FireWire was costing around $1 per chip in licensing costs (I think it's lower now), while USB was free. This meant you could put a USB controller in your south bridge chip, and if no one wanted to wire up USB ports then it wasn't costing them anything. If you added FireWire, you added $1 to the chip cost even if it wasn't used. This meant that FireWire controllers stayed on separate chips, which meant that they only made it into expensiv
    • We need an all new standard. It will probably borrow more from Firewire than USB.

      One of the things I would like to see in this new standard is fixed addressing. That is, each port has a number, and the fixed address of the device has that number in an address chain. When you connect devices through a hub, you use a longer address chain. This should be allowed up to at least 8 address units long (as many as 7 hubs to reach a device). Devices will still also have a unique device ID so if a device is move

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