Problems and Issues with USB 3.0 SuperSpeed

By · Thursday, March 18th, 2010

USB 3.0 SuperspeedUSB 3.0 SuperSpeed is quite possibly one of the biggest advances in technology within the last few years and putting the war between Light Peak and SuperSpeed aside, SuperSpeed seems to have almost no downsides. However, recently Patriot, a veteran in the flash memory world, has announced that they may have found the first serious problem with actual USB 3.0.

As Patriot claims, they have begun to run into some overheating problems with USB 3.0 controller chips. Overheating is a serious issue as it can cause major components to burn up or may even start a fire. Patriot does say, however, that the chips are performing beautifully despite running a little too hot. They are of course undergoing steps to assure that these overheating chips do not cause any threat to consumers and actually listed two potential solutions to get rid of the overheating issue.

The first solution to solve the overheating problem is to put two controller chips inside the USB flash drive, under-clock them both, and put them in RAID 0 to maintain the USB 3.0 speed. This solves the overheating problem and allows the flash drive to operate at a lower temperature, but adding a second control chip increases costs and introduces a greater risk of data corruption. So you could get a SuperSpeed flash drive that won’t burn your hand upon removal, but it will cost you more.

The second solution, and the one that Patriot has decided to implement, is to create USB drives with novel designs and introduce heat sinks. This will most likely take place via a thermal conductive outer casing and does not cause significant changes in the USBs price. It will also result in having an influx of copper and aluminum sheathed USB drives because of the metals heat properties. Although these heat sinks seem like a simple solution to a serious problem, these heat sinks have the potential of limiting USB 3.0 flash drive designs. Heat sinks by nature must be able to absorb heat from primary components and be able to dissipate the heat.

On a side note, no other vendors who are bringing USB 3.0 flash drives to the market have reported the same issues that Patriot is facing. It could be that Patriot may be the only one facing the overheating problem, or could possibly be that other vendors have already figured out a solution. So for the time being, it would seem SuperSpeed drives from Patriot are undergoing some changes to ensure that their products are safe for consumers, but unfortunately may take a little longer to hit store shelves than other vendors.

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