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USB 3.0: Break through in 2012! And what's next?!


"Does it support USB 3.0?" - A question which may become one of the most famous once in 2012, of course at least in the consumer electronic section. Even if the CeBIT isn't the big trend-setter show anymore, it is a good place to become informed about customers demand. As we have heard from many different companys the customers demand on USB 3.0 based products, being it a mobile device like a flash drive or a new PC motherboard, is currently high. It's very likely that "USB 2.0 only" devices will become shelf warmers in the third and last quarter 2012.

Many people now become aware of the USB 3.0 benefit in terms of speed. Additional thanks to the effort from companies like AMD, that starting to integrate USB 3.0 support even in low-end and mainstream devices, USB 3.0 has become more and more available. So widely available that nearly each major flash drive manufacturer plans to upgrade his entire product line ("USB 3.0 support") until the end of 2012.OCZ Lightfoot - Eines der wenigen Thunderbolt-Ger?te? But the so called COB (Chip on Board) flash drives, in general the tiny devices doesn't look like a flash drive anymore, might become a little bluff. We have heard that it's impossible to reach noticeable higher bandwith as if you can reach with a conventional USB 2.0 COB flash drive, at least with the current controler generation.

So get ready for a flood of new USB 3.0 flash drives as well as external USB 3.0 HDDs. Expect them within the next few month, especially on the Computex (Taipei) in June.

What's next?

A very interesting side note we have received is that almost everyone mean that Thunderbolt is going to fail as a widely spread interface. At first the implementation costs are higher than for an USB 3.0 equivalent. On the other hand Intel´s product policy regarding Thunderbolt doesn't really fit to the expectation of the industry. Combine these two facts with the backward-compatibility from USB 3.0 and there's currently no reason to change. It's more likely that Thunderbolt will become an Apple niche product like FireWire already is.

The also likely alternative is that USB 4.0 will integrate an optical channel (as it was already planned for USB 3.0) with a full backward compatibility to USB 3.0. In general the most common thought was that USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt were the last "copper based only" external high-speed interfaces.