USB 3.0 Will be 10X Faster, Could Doom FireWire [UPDATED]

Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0 is now being formulated by Intel and will transfer data at up to 4.8 gigabits per second (Gb/s), according to TechWorld on Monday. The specification will be completed in the first half of 2008.

Thatis ten times the current specification for USB2is maximum rate. The USB 3 protocol will be backwards compatible with USB 2, just as USB 2 was with version 1.1. USB 3 allows transfer over both copper and optical cables.

"The digital era requires high-speed performance and reliable connectivity to move the enormous amounts of digital content now present in everyday life. USB 3.0 will meet this challenge while maintaining (USB 2.0is) ease-of-use experience," said Jeff Ravencraft from Intel.

FireWire, the principal competitor to USB, at one time had aggressive plans to move to "1600" and "3200" versions. Even so, FireWire 400 and 800 have proven, in practice, to well exceed USB 2 transfer rates. With USB 3, typical transfer speeds are expected to exceed FireWire 800. If USB 3 can achieve that in practice, faster versions of FireWire may not be developed, according to Techworldis Chris Mellor.

The USB 3.0 Promotors Group consists of Intel, HP, Microsoft, NEC, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments. A complete specification is expected in the first half of 2008.

TMO notes that if that schedule holds, we may see the first products on the market before the end of 2008.

The IEEE 1394 Trade Association had this response, printed with permission.

"The 3.2 Gigabit version of the FireWire standard is in the final stages for release in early 2008. The new version will use the same connectors and cabling as 1394b, which was revised and updated for 1394b applications and certified for bandwidths up to 10 Gigabits/second. This is targeted for consumer applications providing true whole-home networking and multi-function utility with built-in quality of service required for transporting raw uncompressed video plus dozens of compressed HD video channels. Transporting raw graphics data will create new applications, such as the ability to share graphics resources or redirect desktop computers. FireWire OHCI providers have completed the transition from PCI to PCI Express, paving the way for an easy speed-up from todayis FireWire 800 parts. The Trade Association is now reviewing applications for 10 Gigabit versions of 1394, which remains a key element on the road map in order to transport multiple uncompressed HD streams over a network."

"FireWire continues to provide unique benefit. FireWire is peer-to-peer not Master-Slave. It is a network, not a bus or point-to-point. Since 2002, 1394 has been working on CAT5/6 and optical fiber (POF/GOF) at distances of 100 meters between devices. Today, 1394 is working on coax cable for home and automotive installations. And, 1394b is interoperable with existing products including the 100 mbps camcorders."

The IEEE1394 Trade Association representative also pointed put that support in Vista is due out in early 2008 which will, he said, increase penetration in Windows based PCs.

[This article was updated with information from the IEEE1394 Trade Association.]