The SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Spec Approved With 10 Gbps

The USB 3.1 specification is complete and will raise the SuperSpeed USB transfer rate up to 10 Gbps. The current USB 3.0 spec has a limit of 5 Gbps.  This latest release will double the speed of the USB 3 standard and make SuperSpeed USB more competitive with Intel’s Thunderbolt technology which has a speed limit of 20 Gbps.

Unfortunately, the news doesn’t mean current USB 3.0 ports be able to operate at 3.1 speed. The new spec will be fully backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, but only new ports manufactured with the USB 3.1 spec will be able to take advantage of the new speed limit. It is unknown when we will see products on the market with the new USB 3.1 ports incorporated in them.Hot PC Tips - USB 3.1

“The specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development.”

Thunderbolt is still faster than the new USB 3.1 due to it’s speed capability of up to 20 Gbps.  Thunderbolt enables daisy chaining, where the USB standard will continue to supports hubs that route several connected USB peripherals through one port.  Intel has been heavily pushing the Thunderbolt tech as a high-speed I/O alternative since it was first launched in February of 2011, however adoption has been limited.

PC Manufacturers are focused on USB 3 since it is less expensive, offers comparable bandwidth, charging for devices such as mobile phones, and has a large installed base of accessories and peripherals.

It appears that Intel will be supporting the new USB 3.1 spec, even with it’s emphasis on Thunderbolt. “The industry has affirmed the strong demand for higher through-put, for user-connected peripherals and docks, by coming together to produce a quality SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps specification,” said Alex Peleg, Vice President, Intel Architecture Group. “Intel is fully committed to deliver on this request.”

Additional information can be found on the USB-IF website.