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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 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.

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @07:48AM (#24703247) Homepage

    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 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?

  • 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.

  • Re:and Yet... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sam0737 (648914) <sam@chowc[ ]com ['hi.' in gap]> on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:05AM (#24703409)

    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.

  • by sam0737 (648914) <sam@chowc[ ]com ['hi.' in gap]> on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:27AM (#24703575)

    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 devices.

    WUSB is pretty much the same as Bluetooth, just much faster.

    while there are not many type of devices that I can think of could make use of 480Mbps without a power adapter, but think of bluetooth which is dead slow, I would love to have my PDA and Camera sync to the desktop over WUSB.

  • 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.

  • by hey! (33014) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:40AM (#24703693) Homepage Journal

    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 biggest weakness in Bluetooth security that users find it inconvenient. They often leave their devices in insecure configurations and vendors often deliver devices with trivial passkeys like 1234.

    WUSB claims to implement security in a simpler way, and intuition tells me that there must be a better way, but still I'll believe it when I see it.

    WUSB apparently doesn't have service discovery or security. This clearly makes it more of a bona fide "cable replacement" and certainly simplifies managing the WUSB pairing. This will certainly make connecting devices like cameras simpler; on the other hand it will be up to device driver and operating system developers to figure out how to handle devices that offer an array of services, such as phones. So a lot of application interface standardization goes out the window. That's too bad, although it's questionable whether users currently benefit that much from that.

    Although these are significant differences, I'm not sure that they'll be decisive in favor of one technology or the other. I'm betting that everything will depend on how cheap throwing a WUSB interface in a device is compared to throwing a Bluetooth interface in. If one interface costs a nickel and the other costs a dime, I'd bet on the nickel interface.

  • 4.8 Gbps is fast? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kungfuj35u5 (1331351) on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:44AM (#24703749)
    Firewire 800 is how old, and is how fast? About 6.25 Gbps? Seriously, get with the program IEEE, don't bastardize your fast standards while allowing the market to lovingly adopt your slow child.
  • by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @08:47AM (#24703813) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by Reece400 (584378) <Reece400@hotmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:00AM (#24703991)
    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.
  • by Reece400 (584378) <Reece400@hotmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:02AM (#24704015)
    Using an external USB hub would also work if the bandwidth bottleneck isn't an issue.
  • 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.

  • 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!

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:12AM (#24704173) Homepage

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

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

  • Re:and Yet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hoplite3 (671379) on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:28AM (#24704407)

    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 major vendor stack of chips, it'll be hard NOT to get it, just like it's tough to buy a computer without sound (or even superIO).

    USB isn't the fastest or least CPU-intensive, but it it by far the most pervasive hook-up on computers. The fact that the same port hooks up everything from humping dog toys to harddrives makes it difficult to knock out of the market.

    I think there's probably going to be a bit of a fight between esata and firewire, though. Those seem to be in the same niche -- high-speed data transfer for video et al. Pros and hobbyists will determine the winner there. I still think firewire has more going for it (chaining and a nicer connector), but it's more expensive than esata (or so I heard).

    But wireless USB ... yeah. I don't get that at all. USB is all about one connector with backwards compatibility. Take away the connector and ... what's left? I guess if it is cheaper than bluetooth, it might end up in the market.

  • by Kelbear (870538) on Friday August 22, 2008 @09:45AM (#24704659)

    Which side is up on the slot though?

    It can be vertical/horizontal and can oftentimes be out of line of sight when reaching behind PCs, or in the dark under a desk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2008 @10:18AM (#24705135)

    Why hasn't anyone implemented external PCI Express? One of the coolest things about PCIe is that you can put it on a cable with no extra work, due to its serialized and point-to-point nature.

    PCIe external connectors [molex.com] have been spec'd for over a year now, in widths from x1 to x16. The x1 connector has 18 conductors in about a DSub-9 size, with the usual screw-locking features.

    And we know PCIe works at high, sustained data rates. And it's an Intel-backed standard, so no motive for them to "forget" to put it in their chipsets like they did with FireWire. Also, it would be trivial to make a PCIe board that took its x1 port and just wired it straight to the back panel.

    So what's stopping people?

  • by chaim79 (898507) on Friday August 22, 2008 @10:32AM (#24705391) Homepage

    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 know which side's up. For those who have cables that don't have that label or sockets that are on their side, and you don't know which side is up, this becomes a problem.

    I'm seeing people trying to explain that USB is not keyed, but then say it won't go in the wrong way, but that means it's keyed, so you contradict yourself.

    Because USB IS KEYED, and it is keyed internally, it's an annoying spec, personally I like firewire better and try and use it more then USB, it's easier for me to see the keying.

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