CES 2009: USB 3.0 slower than expected

  • Las Vegas (NV) - USB 3.0 may promise data transfer speeds of up to 5000 Mb/s (625 MB/s) but such levels will not be possible, at least not in initial devices. When USB 3.0 hardware will become available in late 2009 or early 2010, users will have to settle for about one fourth of the theoretical maximum bandwidth, TG Daily learned.

    Readers who have been following the history of USB may remember that USB 2.0 was a rather underwhelming technology when it showed up in first products in late 2001. While it promised a data transfer rate of up to 480 Mb/s, the real life numbers were much closer to 250 Mb/s (). It took several years until the technology improved and finally came closer to its 480 Mb/s specification.

    A representative for the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) told TG Daily that USB 3.0 will go through a similar evolution and not reach the promised 5000 Mb/s initially. A prototype USB 3.0 hard drive on display at CES 2009 topped out 1320 Mb/s (165 MB/s) in read operations and 1000 Mb/s (125 MB/s) in write processes.

    We need to stress that this was a (very fragile) hard drive prototype and bandwidth is likely to improve somewhat until actual products hit the market. However, we are told that we should not expect much more than 1200 Mb/s (150 MB/s). Of course, that is still more than twice the maximum bandwidth of USB 2.0 and will be more than “enough” performance for most peripheral devices. For example, there are only few solid state disk drives that exceed a data transfer rate of 150 MB/s at this time.