The Universal Serial Bus, or well known as USB was introduced to the PC world in 1996 which dramatically simplified the connection between host computer and peripheral devices such as mice and keyboards, external hard drive or optical devices, Bluetooth and many more peripheral devices in the market.
Let's take a quick look on the USB evolution referencing to the table below.
For years, the USB 2.0 has been firmly entrenched as the de facto interface standard in the PC world with about 6 billion devices sold, and yet the need for more speed grows by ever faster computing hardware and ever greater bandwidth demands. The USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 finally has the answer to the consumers' demands with a theoretically 10 times faster than its predecessor. In a nutshell, USB 3.1 Gen 1 features are as follows:
The topics below cover some of the most commonly asked questions regarding USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1.
Currently, there are 3 speed modes defined by the latest USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 specification. They are Super-Speed, Hi-Speed and Full-Speed. The new SuperSpeed mode has a transfer rate of 4.8Gbps. While the specification retains Hi-Speed, and Full-Speed USB mode, commonly known as USB 2.0 and 1.1 respectively, the slower modes still operate at 480Mbps and 12Mbps respectively and are kept to maintain backward compatibility.
USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 achieves the much higher performance by the technical changes below:
With today's ever increasing demands placed on data transfers with high-definition video content, terabyte storage devices, high megapixel count digital cameras etc., USB 2.0 may not be fast enough. Furthermore, no USB 2.0 connection could ever come close to the 480Mbps theoretical maximum throughput, making data transfer at around 320Mbps (40MB/s) — the actual real-world maximum. Similarly, USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 connections will never achieve 4.8Gbps. We will likely see a real-world maximum rate of 400MB/s with overheads. At this speed, USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 is a 10x improvement over USB 2.0.
USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 opens up the laneways and provides more headroom for devices to deliver a better overall experience. Where USB video was barely tolerable previously (both from a maximum resolution, latency, and video compression perspective), it's easy to imagine that with 5-10 times the bandwidth available, USB video solutions should work that much better. Single-link DVI requires almost 2Gbps throughput. Where 480Mbps was limiting, 5Gbps is more than promising. With its promised 4.8Gbps speed, the standard will find its way into some products that previously weren't USB territory, like external RAID storage systems.
Listed below are some of the available SuperSpeed USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 products:
The good news is that USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 has been carefully planned from the start to peacefully co-exist with USB 2.0. First of all, while USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 specifies new physical connections and thus new cables to take advantage of the higher speed capability of the new protocol, the connector itself remains the same rectangular shape with the four USB 2.0 contacts in the exact same location as before. Five new connections to carry receive and transmitted data independently are present on USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 cables and only come into contact when connected to a proper SuperSpeed USB connection.
Windows 8/10 will be bringing native support for USB 3.1 Gen 1 controllers. This is in contrast to previous versions of Windows, which continue to require separate drivers for USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 controllers.
Microsoft announced that Windows 7 would have USB 3.1 Gen 1 support, perhaps not on its immediate release, but in a subsequent Service Pack or update. It is not out of the question to think that following a successful release of USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1 support in Windows 7, SuperSpeed support would trickle down to Vista. Microsoft has confirmed this by stating that most of their partners share the opinion that Vista should also support USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen 1.
Super-Speed support for Windows XP is unknown at this point. Given that XP is a seven-year-old operating system, the likelihood of this happening is remote.