Intel’s announced USB 3.0 specification could push throughput beyond 4Gbps (300MBps) at the application level while introducing Quality of Service in support of HD video streams. Besides supplanting Firewire once and for all, a clear goal of the new “SuperSpeed USB” is to keep up with the transfer speeds of flash chips. “We don’t want to be the bottleneck in the system,” says Intel’s Jeff Ravencraft who is overseeing the 3.0 initiative. Intel, HP, Microsoft, NEC, NXP, and TI will present the initial spec for a design review in November with first silicon to be stamped in “early 2009.” While the new interconnect (pictured) will remain backward compatible with USB 2.0 and prior devices, new cables laced with an optical link and a max length of 2-meters will be required to take advantage of those high speeds according to a senior engineering manager with NEC. Meanwhile, a 1Gbps throughput is being targeted with Ravencraft’s other baby: Wireless USB 1.1. Sounds great, but with existing 480Mbps Wireless USB silicon only achieving about 40Mbps in practice, Intel would be wise to focus on efficiency, not theory. Of course, it’s all just a lot of smack-talk ’til they deliver, but with Apple running Intel inside now, Sony putting USB in their camcorders, and eSATA proliferating for external disks… well, Firewire’s days sure seem numbered.
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