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Data Storage Hardware

USB 3 in 2008, 10 Times as Fast 381

psychicsword writes "Intel and others plan to release a new version of the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus technology in the first half of 2008, a revamp the chipmaker said will make data transfer rates more than 10 times as fast by adding fiber-optic links alongside the traditional copper wires." "The current USB 2.0 version has a top data-transfer rate of 480 megabits per second, so a tenfold increase would be 4.8 gigabits per second." This should make USB hard drives easier and faster to use."
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USB 3 in 2008, 10 Times as Fast

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  • Cable? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:22AM (#20665921) Homepage
    I though one of the major benefits of USB was that you could have everything on one type of cable so you'd just have a bunch of identical ports and it didn't really matter which was connected to the printer and which to the mouse.
    Seems to me that neither the optical cable (nor the ports) will be compatible with USB 2.
  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:23AM (#20665937)
    ...a storage device that'll run at bus speed. What use is 4.8GBit if the attached drive bursts at 150MBit? Or is the USB RAID stack waiting in the wings?
  • Size? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toppavak ( 943659 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:25AM (#20665951)
    I wonder how adding fiber optic links will affect size and power requirements of USB3 devices. Granted, small LED's use minuscule amounts of energy, but wouldn't having to squeeze in power supplies and photodiodes at each end of the cable make it more difficult to squeeze it all into the micro-USB-sized interfaces used on most phones and mp3 players?
  • Bottleneck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrjb ( 547783 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:26AM (#20665957)
    Currently I'm getting transfer rates of about 16 megabyte per second on hard drives connected via USB. That's roughly 160 megabit per second, whereas USB 2.0 can transfer up to 480 megabit per second. While I'm all for faster and better, the bottleneck seems to be elsewhere in this case.
  • Yeah, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theorem4 ( 1101729 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:26AM (#20665959)
    Will this make the new cables more expensive?
  • Re:Cable? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Televiper2000 ( 1145415 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:27AM (#20665971)
    There's already at least 3 different kinds of USB cables when you only consider connector types.
  • Plug Shape (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crock23A ( 1124275 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:31AM (#20666007)
    Could be slightly off topic but I had to sound off on this one...

    While I appreciate USB's capability for backwards computability, I would much rather have a plug shaped in such a way that I didn't have to flip it over every time I try to plug it in. I don't know about you guys but this is one of the most annoying aspects of using my computer, and I run Windows!

    This would also be a great time to make a universal "other side" of the cable, rather than having a different plug for every single USB device. I have a mini plug for my camera, a big square one for my printer, a 2.5 mm jack to charge my MP3 player, etc. All these cables make a mess. If all my devices could share one cable, I'd be much happier.
  • Re:Yeah, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiNKz ( 257629 ) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:33AM (#20666025) Homepage Journal
    Also, if you integrate an element of fiber optics into a cable that routinely wrapped up, stepped on, or just basically abused, wouldn't it fail far easier than a standard cable?
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:40AM (#20666089)
    I'll wager a broken fiber in a cable would manifest itself as 'USB2 only' connection.
  • by deniable ( 76198 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:40AM (#20666097)
    Fiber and copper. Let's see how vendors screw this one up. USB 1, 1.1, 1.?, ?.?, 2, 2.75, 3...
  • Re:Bottleneck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <.hobbes. .at.> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:41AM (#20666099)
    In the controller, likely. I'm getting 30% higher transfer rates with FW400 than with USB 2.0 on the same external disk.

    Which doesn't give me high hopes for USB3. High-speed links are all good and well, but if they keep including cheap-ass controllers, what's the point?
  • by amaiman ( 103647 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:50AM (#20666181) Homepage
    This is going to mean you need special "USB 3" cables, which users will confuse with regular ones...

    I assume that the cables will be much more expensive, as well, because of the fiber component. I can get a regular cable for about $3 now, does anyone know how much the new cables are likely to cost?
  • Re:Plug Shape (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:53AM (#20666191) Homepage Journal

    All the others with 2.5mm and other proprietary ends that work on nothing else are solely the fault of the OEMs. Nobody asked them to do it, it never made sense to do it, and it's just a huge pain in the ass for everyone.
    It makes a whole lot of sense to an OEM who wants to be the only one who can sell their customers a cable despite an open standard. It's the same reason for every standard out there which suppliers have taken it upon themselves to add their own "enhancements" to.
  • Screw bandwidth... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Balinares ( 316703 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:55AM (#20666215)
    Give us a standard that actually delivers enough power that you don't need an additional power cord for just about every other device already... :/
  • by rubberbando ( 784342 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:56AM (#20666223)
    It could be worse, we could all be forced to use SCSI devices instead. That had a ton of port styles and shapes as well as internal and external versions of each. Also, you had to daisy chain your devices, secure them with a screwdriver/your fingers, configure each with its own ID number and make sure the end of the chain was terminated properly. Then to top it off, cables, adapters, and terminators were insanely expensive. I'd swear that every time I bought a new SCSI device that it was like playing a puzzle game like Tetris with cables/ports instead of block in hopes that I wouldn't have to go back to the store and shell out $30 or more for an adapter or cable. Sheesh. I don't miss that at all... :P
  • Re:Bottleneck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:08AM (#20666333)

    In the controller, likely. I'm getting 30% higher transfer rates with FW400 than with USB 2.0 on the same external disk.
    It's as least as likely the problem is in the protocol. USB is synchronous - data every packet received must be acknowledged in a return packet before the next data packet can be transmitted. That back and forth for each data packet means a lot of wasted time where the channel is essentially idle. Sometimes using a shorter cable can make a noticeable improvement.

    Firewire has both synchronous and asynchronous modes. In async mode, a bunch of packets can be transmitted before any acknowledgment back is required. That's bad if the cables is flakey, since it will result in a lot of retransmits, but bad firewire cables are the exception, not the rule. So async is almost always way more efficient than synch. I'm pretty certain that you are using the async mode for talking to your disk.
  • Re:Plug Shape (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:13AM (#20666375)
    Also, did you know that the USB connector is exactly as wide as an RJ45 network connector. No, neither did I, until my mother plugged her mouse into the ethernet port. (:-)

    Seriously, the connector should have double the number of pins as it needs, and they should be symmetrical. That would also increase reliability, because if the cable didn't work one way because of a bad pin, just flip it over until you can buy a new cable.
  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BosstonesOwn ( 794949 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:17AM (#20666427) []

    No Flash is slow to write , very fast to read. Hence Windows use of it for "ReadyBoost" caching. There is extremely low latency just not enough bandwidth to sustain high levels of I/O.

    On the other hand , by introducing fiber into the link doesn't that take away the greatest part of usb ? being able to just fold up the cable and stuff it in your pocket along with a small hard drive ? I know I use it for restoring machines after catastrophic failures (yeah windows) and some times I don't go right back to my desk with the cable and drive and have to toss it in my pocket. I can't do that with fiber, it would fracture.
  • Re:Plug Shape (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:24AM (#20666513) Journal
    Having it be flippable would mean duplicating wires and/or contacts and would make the cables more susceptible to damage and more expensive.

    I don't think the idea is to have the cable flippable, but instead to have some indication in the shape of which way around it goes. Firewire connects have a rounded end and a squared off one, for example.

  • Re:Great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antime ( 739998 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @09:24AM (#20666519)
    The quoted speed of USB 3 is probably the bus speed, i.e. it's shared by all devices connected to the same host. So one disk won't saturate the bus, but if you plug in a bunch of them the bandwidth won't seem so incredibly massive anymore. Then you have to consider the bandwidth reserved by isochronous devices etc.
  • What's worse is.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bogie ( 31020 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:19AM (#20667181) Journal
    Working on computers that put the usb ports 1" from the ground. Or even better hide them between the network port and all of the other ports. Real easy to access either port location when the computer is shoved where ever it fits and is out of the way. How about moving the ports to the top of the computers and have them lit up all them time so that you can find them instantly? Would that be so freaking hard? You can even put a little cover over the ports with your oem logo on it or something.

    Best usb port design? 5 year old Dells which have the usb ports at the front bottom with the ports ANGLED UPWARDS. It's lotsa fun trying to fit a thumb drive into those ports. I'd love to punch the guy in the face who came up with that design.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:23AM (#20667241) Journal
    I am not an engineer.

    But the faster you push data on copper the more vulnerable to distortion and corruption the data becomes. Wires act like antennas and absorb em radiation from the computer and other sources. This is why gigabit ethernet has a very short distance the cable can cover vs 100mbps cables.

    Light doesn't suffer from this problem and thus can handle faster data.

  • Re:Plug Shape (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:41AM (#20667497)
    You're right. I forgot the way more complicated solution. Silly me!
  • Re:Great. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:31PM (#20669087)
    On the other hand , by introducing fiber into the link doesn't that take away the greatest part of usb ? being able to just fold up the cable and stuff it in your pocket along with a small hard drive ?

    One of my biggest gripes with USB (besides all the technical blunders) is that there's no "the cable". My iPod has a USB-to-iPod cable. My camera has a USB-to-camera cable. My Visor (back when I used it) had a USB-to-Visor cable.

    WTF, guys? The point of a standard cable is so I only need to carry one fucking cable.
  • Re:Great. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fifty Points ( 878668 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:35PM (#20669129)
    Have you ever handled fiber? It's not that fragile.
  • Re:Honest Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:51PM (#20669339) Journal
    Apple was thinking along these lines when they proposed firewire. I am not a Mac expert, but from what I have seen so far, firewire can be used for networking (does it use ethernet, I am not sure) video transfer, peripherals connection, external drive connections. From the start it was fast enough and designed for all these applications while we still struggle to get USB working everywhere at full speed...
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @11:08PM (#20676605) Homepage
    Only problem was Apple screwed up by trademarking FireWire, so we get checkboxes such as iLink or IEEE-1394. No wonder nobody uses it today.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson