USB 3.0 Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the third version for standard computer connectivity. USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB. USB flash drives have become one of the most popular methods of file transfer and the latest generation. The USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 using the same concept but with many improvements and totally different implementation. USB is developed in the mid-1990s by a consortium of companies.
Today three speed modes USB 3.0 specification are present, they are SuperSpeed, Hi-Speed and Full-Speed. The Latest SuperSpeed has a transfer rate of 4.8Gbps. USB 2.0 still operates at 480Mbps and 12Mbps respectively.
In USB 2.0 data can travel in one direction at a time, but the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 can read and write data simultaneously. This one is possible with adding two new lanes to transmit USB3.0 data and another pair is using for receiving data.
USB 3.0 is more power efficient as compare to USB 2.0. Minimum device operating voltage is dropped from 4.4 V to 4 V. There's also the bonus that battery-powered devices should charge faster.
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Mac's don't support USB 3 yet, USB 3 is backwards compatible with USB 2, which is what recent Mac's have. USB 3 used in under USB 2 conditions are much faster than USB 2.
USB 3.0 BACKWARDS-COMPATIBLE WITH USB 2.0 that all USB 2.0 devices will work on USB 3.0 hardware and (nearly) all USB 3.0 devices will work on USB 2.0 hardware. USB 3.0 suspends device polling, which is replaced by interrupt-driven protocol. As a result, idle devices won’t experience a power drain since a signal from the device is required to initiate data transfer. With USB 2.0 the host controller used to look for active transfers, slowly draining power. Briefly, USB 3.0 supports idle, sleep, and suspend states, as well as link-, device-, and function-level power management.
Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Linux already support USB 3.0. Mac is expected follow. Given its age, Windows XP will probably not receive an update to support the new interface.
The maximum cable length USB 3.0 supports is reduced to approximately three meters, opposed to five meters with USB 2.0. However, using hubs, the maximum length can be extended to 18 meters.
Naturally, not all devices will be able to make use of the increased speed in USB 3.0. Magnetic hard drives for example, are limited by their RPM and the corresponding read/write speed. Hence, USB 3.0 will not unfold its full beauty until computers are equipped per default with faster hardware, such as solid state drives. But we all know how speedy progress is in the IT world. Give it a year or two and you will be able to fully benefit from USB 3.0.