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Could USB 3.x See 40Gbps?

It could be said the top five topics for CES 2018 were robots, driverless cars, virtual reality, internet of things and drones; however, we should keep our eye on less flashy topics like our beloved USB.

We learned at CES the USB Implementer Forum is looking at the capability to increase data transfer rates up to 40Gbits/second. Translated into a more common term, that is about 5,000 MB/second.

It was reported Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, was said this is a real possibility and the wiring currently used, is capable of such speeds.

chart of all USB connectors

Those who favor Thunderbolt because it’s speed capability will no longer have a debatable advantage over USB, because once this new specification is released the speed between USB 3.x and Thunderbolt would be the same, maxing out at 40Gbps.

It’s always nice to appreciate our past before looking into the future. With that said, here is a chart of the USB ports currently available:

USB speeds

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A New Generation Of Desktop Storage

While all pre-built desktops and laptops come with a hard drive, it’s not uncommon for users to look for a more mobile way to store their data rather than carrying their entire machine with them to all destinations. External hard drives have been the answer to this lack of mobility ever since the ingenuity of a floppy disk met with the carrying capacity of standard disk or optical memory and while many users have their needs met by existing externals, the paradigm of “bigger, faster, and cheaper” in the tech industry rings true as Seagate unveils the Innov8.

USB_Desktop_External_Drive

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Portable, Plugable USB Type C Dock Station

With the single USB-C port of the new MacBook laptop we knew a power station and/or dock station was right behind.  Here is a Kickstarter compaign to address the single port computer and connecting all your peripheral gadgets to your new computer.

The ultimate dock station will power and charge your system using USB’s new Power Delivery specification, while providing an additional alternate mode video output up to 4K resolution, gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and 4 USB ports.  The tall slender design of the dock station packs a number of sockets to support any type of peripheral you need to connect.

In addition, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification supports a feature called “VESA Alternate Mode” which works with the built-in graphics processor on supported systems to provide video output at resolutions up to 4K.  This is particularly important given the up-tick in TVs and monitors which are being released with a 4K specification.  The other two display outputs in the Ultimate Dock are enabled by the DisplayLink DL-3900 graphics processor, which can support two additional 1080P displays at 60Hz.  The DisplayLink driver is still in development, but the Kickstarter campaign claims the driver will have a final release by the time the dock station hits full production.

The Plugable Ultimate USB-C Universal Docking Station supports:

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USB 3.1 Connector, Physical Design, Universal Connector

It is all over the internet, the universal USB connector; however, it is difficult to find the physical design or look of the connector.  Most websites are posting old style 2.0 or 3.0 connectors.  From reading through the USB.org documentation, we have the following physical design specs.

USB, universal connector, female

 

USB, universal connector, male

 

From the notes in the document, these designs could change, but at least we have an idea.

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Peddle to the Metal with USB 3.1 Spec

The Universal Serial Buss Implementers Forum or USB-IF has released their new specification, USB 3.1.  The full spec will be available for download off the USB-IF website on Friday Aug 2, 2013.  The new specification allows for 10Gb/s transfer rate.  Of course this is optimal transfer speed without the incurrence of operating system resources trying to regulate bandwidth for multi device transfers, but none-the-less it’s a huge jump in speed for USB.

USB 3.1 cable

USB is the most versatile connector type in the computer market.  Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard developed in the mid-1990s that defines the cables, connectors and communications protocols used in a bus for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and electronic devices.

Originally USB was specific to connect computer peripherals such as keyboards, pointing devices, digital cameras, printers and network adapters.  With the increased need for bandwidth with digital content and the faster speeds of portable storage devices and smartphones the need to increase the speed of USB has been significant.

In addition the USB specification incorporated a Power Delivery or PD protocol which can deliver up to 100watts of power over a USB cable.  The PD technology must use a certified cable with the Power Delivery wiring so not all USB cables will have the PD ability.  The intent is to permit uniformly charging laptops, tablets, USB-powered disks and similarly higher power consumer electronics, as a natural extension of existing European and Chinese mobile telephone charging standards.

With the increased 3.1 speeds and the power ability of 100watts per cable it appears USB has made a substantial gain in the cable of choice for manufacturers and consumers a like for connecting their peripherals to their host computers.

The USB 3.1 specification is just now in development and products should come to market in the next 8-10 months.

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