Feeds

USB 3.1 demo shows new spec well on its way towards 1.2GB/sec goal

Bad news for Intel's pricey Thunderbolt

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

At CES this January, Jeff Ravencraft, the president and chief operating officer of the USB Implementers Forum USB-IF), told The Reg that the unfortunately named "SuperSpeed" USB 3.0 would double its throughput from 5Gb/sec to 10Gb/sec in its 3.1 incarnation. We recently sat down with him again and saw it in action.

The demo was conducted using a Fresco Logic–developed, FPGA-based, USB 3.1 prototype controller board connected not to a storage device, but to DDR memory. Why not an SSD? "Because there are no solid-state drives that are at that level yet," Ravencraft explained.

With this setup running the ATTO Disk Benchmark, USB 3.1 transmitted large packets at up to 900MB/sec – and this using a spec that was just released in July.

"With USB 3.0 at five-gig," Ravencraft said, "you'd typically see, at the high end, around 450 megabytes. So here we are, eight weeks out, and we're already showing double that."

According to Ravencraft, USB 3.1 will "easily deliver" up to 1.2GB/sec when it's fully tuned and productized, speed that will be capable of delivering uncompressed 4K video. "We think we'll see real products that you can buy in a retail store probably in the market for the holiday season next year," he told us.

Speaking of "real products", Ravencraft proudly pointed to the fact that there are now over 1,000 certified USB 3.0 products in the market, and said that the analyst group MRG estimates 700 million individual SuperSpeed USB–enabled devices – certified and uncertified – will be shipped in 2013, and that shipments will grow to around 2.2 billion by 2016.

MRG sees this as bad news for Intel's baby, Thunderbolt. "Thunderbolt suffers extensively from a pricing problem," they write. "The cost to add Thunderbolt to a notebook computer remains exorbitantly high when compared to the costs for adding USB 3.0 to the same notebook."

The reason is simple. Intel's Thunderbolt controller chips currently cost around $10 apiece, and USB 3.0 has been integrated into all of Intel's consumer chipsets since 2012.

"Another important factor to consider," MRG writes, "is that Thunderbolt cables, while having declined in price since launch, still retail for about $30 each. Essentially all of this means that when a consumer is faced with a choice between buying an external hard-drive with Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, the USB 3.0 device should have a significant price advantage."

In addition to the USB 3.1 demo, Ravencraft also discussed the USB-IF's new Media Agnostic (MA) USB effort, which will allow wireless devices and docking stations to communicate using the USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 protocols without a physical connection. MA-enabled devices could communicate over 60GHz WiGig, 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, and WiMedia ultra-wide band radios operating between 3.1GHz and 10.6GHz.

In point of fact, being media agnostic, MA could operate on essentially any other applicable existing or future type of media – even a good ol' Ethernet cable, should that usage model make any sense for your application. ®

Bootnote

Not everyone is pleased with the convenience, affordability, and increasing speed of USB. Back in November 2010, The Guardian and other news outlets reported that a Brazilian evangelical cult had forbidden its members from using USB devices because that connectivity standard's familiar trident icon proved "that all users of that vile technology are actually worshipers of Satan." As an old hand in the personal computer biz, your humble Reg reporter begs to differ – if there were ever a cabling construct that was the work of the Evil One, it was SCSI.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.