The makers of the USB specifications have defined the latest version 3.1 of the popular interface. The bandwidth is to grow from five to ten gigabits per second. In practice, however, more than twice as fast transfers are promised. However, new cables and plugs are also needed.
USB 3.1: Specification completed
The USB Type c Promotion Group, the body behind the specification of the USB standard (members include HP, Intel and Microsoft) has completed its work on the USB 3.0 successor. Similar to USB 2, the new revision is also connected with a one and a dot to the name and thus stops on “USB 3.1”.
USB 3.1: Theoretically double bandwidth, practically even more?
In contrast to USB 3.0, the new standard allows transfer rates of up to ten gigabits per second – and theoretically the double speed of the predecessor. By means of a better coding of the data the real transfer rates should be much closer to the theoretical maximum than before. For this reason, more than a doubling of the velocities is to be expected in practice.
Still slower than Thunderbolt
However, USB 3.1 with its ten Gigabit per second is theoretically still slower than Apple’s Thunderbolt standard. Although this is specified at the same speed, it achieves a maximum of 40 gigabits per second throughput with full-duplex transmission (simultaneous transmission and reception) and two channels (one for data transmission, one for video signals) when you are using both transmission directions and protocols considered. Apple has already announced, however, the throughput with Thunderbolt 2 also want to double.
New cables and plugs are required
There are also bad news: For the maximum speed USB 3.1 3.1 new connectors and cables are needed. The standard is downward compatible with all older versions. However, if you want to take advantage of the new speeds, you will probably have to purchase new cables.
The new specification can be downloaded as a 40 megabyte document on the pages of the Promotion Group. However, the server is currently hopelessly overloaded.
The first devices with the new connector are not expected until 2014 at the earliest.