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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



The Seagate Innov8 is first in its class in a variety of ways. Its 8TB capacity is something rarely seen in externals and the reason for this is transfer speed. External hard drives usually connect to a machine through a USB cable and with the standard transfer rates of USB 2.0 and even USB 3.0, uploading and accessing such a massive quantity of data was not feasible. Seagate has solved this by being the first and only pioneer to not only use USB Type-C connections to access data, but also for power needs. The Innov8 reduces the additional power cord required for external hard drives of this size by making it energy efficient enough that just one Type-C connector can power the device. Additionally, with the recent release of USB 3.1, an 8TB drive is no longer some overwhelming beast of a data load to sift through when armed with speeds up to 10Gbps.

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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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

USB To Kick Into High High Gear

You can’t help to think Apple’s push for Thunderbolt has something to do with the latest announcement from the USB-IF…in that transfer speeds via USB will double what the USB 3.0 specification currently is.  If development can stay on target, this increased speed should be seeing implementation by end of 2014. The new specification will run with USB 3.0 sockets and connectors; however, will require new wire setup for the cables. It is expected to see the faster USB spec in PCs, adapter cards and hard drives, but will take significantly longer to reach mobile devices and tablets.  As it stands now, USB 3.0 is just gaining momentum as a standard socket in PCs and mobile devices should start seeing 3.0 connectors in late 2013.   Continue Reading

Spec for 100W over USB is Here

The USB-IF released the Power Delivery [PD] specification for USB 3.0.  In addition, the 2.0 forum approved it too. Because we are talking about 100watts over USB there is some risk associated with introducing such a spec.  The USB-IF said the power can be sent, both ways, intelligently where power ramps up or down upon delivery.  The spec includes an intelligent check of both the cable and the other end’s capability to insure nothing goes up in flames. If you stop and think about this, if a typical laptop has three USB sockets, what kind of power brick would you need to power the laptop plus 300watts of power, assuming all sockets are requesting a full load.  Maybe the power brick will end up being bigger and heavier then the laptop {grin}. For a very interesting read on the entire PD report, Continue Reading

MacBook Air Adds USB 3.0

Apple released their new MacBook Air product and we are very excited to hear USB 3.0 is now standard. If you have concerns about USB 3.0 being a new technology without much compatibility, you are totally wrong.  The great thing about USB is their backward compatible specification.  What this means, is the USB-IF [the forum which governs the technology] requires that any new USB specification work will all legacy USB protocols. So even using that ultra slow USB drive from 2004 will work in the new MacBook Air products.  Not like you would, but it’s just an example.  Another example is using slower USB products like USB keyboards or USB calculators or USB breast warmers will work from the Apple USB 3.0 socket. The USB 3.0 specification has a maximum transfer speed of gigabits per second.  That’s about 500MBs per second.  You must keep in mind this is the theoretical maximum and you can never expect this type of performance from a USB device, but it’s nice to know the efficiency ratios are dramatically improved with the new USB 3.0 specification. Continue Reading

Bootable Windows 8 Off USB

Microsoft is looking to make their OS more portable.  With Windows8 one of the features the Redmond Washington company is featuring is a bootable OS.  True, we’ve seen both Windows and Linux distro’s bootable off a flash drive, but what makes this a bit different is 1)  being legal and 2)  officially supported.  This seems a very smart move to keep Microsoft positioned to as an option as virtual desktop and thin client systems continue to rise in popularity. Many power users already run virtual laptops off of USB drives enabling them to work on a single consistent environment at both home and work without fussing with a laptop/briefcase. This should cement the concept and help keep MS moving towards more secure OS options comparable to VPMs. With an official version of bootable Windows OS, IT managers could now use a USB Duplicator, such as the one from Nexcopy Inc., to mass produce their installation and/or restore media in a much faster time frame then using an old school optical duplicator. An additional caveat of the portable Windows system is the speed of the environment.  Granted, there is nothing like running off a hard disk, but running of NAND flash will be almost as smooth…and with memory performance getting better with USB 3.0 flashdrive devices, it will become two of the same. Video of Windows8 running on a MacBook Pro after the jump Continue Reading

Skinny Jeans 2TB USB Flash Drive

Transcend and Taiwan’s ITRI are doing a joint venture design on an ultra slim 2TB USB flashdrive.  The “Thin Card” was shown at the Display Taiwan convention.  Not sure why the release was at a flat screen convention, but I guess a moot point. Nothing official from either company in regards to specs or a simple introduction, nor does the high-capacity USB 3.0 stick appear on Display Taiwan’s trade show website.  So adding this all up, it could be nothing more then a USB case and a trade show hottie giving out false information. If you watch the video [here] you can hear the girl say things like “this could be a 2TB drive” well no sh!t I could pull out any sized drive and claim it “could be 2TB” and follow up with a release date of March 2015. However, lets keep a positive attitude about this and hope a 2TB drive isn’t too far off. Continue Reading

USB-IF Releases USB 3.0 OTG Specification

The USB Implimentors Forum announced the availability of the USB On-The-GO [OTG] specification for embedded USB host controller applications where a PC is not required. The supplement ensures that mobile devices such as phones or cameras are able to use a SuperSpeed USB link in both USB host and USB peripheral roles through a single receptacle. OTG and Embedded Host Devices requiring fast synchronization or streaming of rich data will benefit from this feature. The USB OTG 3.0 and Embedded Host supplement offers power saving features equivalent to those available in USB OTG 2.0, enabling the adoption of SuperSpeed USB in mobile devices. Additionally, USB OTG 3.0 provides backward compatibility with USB OTG 2.0. To learn more about the specification, Continue Reading

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