Apple and USB 3.0: A Possible Duo?

By · Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Apple USB 3.0 USB 3.0 may finally be getting support from the most elusive, unlikely place for the interface:  Apple.  Rumors have been rapidly swirling online about the potential pair up after a post from VR-Zone.  According to the site, USB 3.0 for Macs all boils down to what is the driving force behind any business—money.  As a result, Apple could end up supporting 3.0 before Intel, the brain behind their newly coveted Thunderbolt interface.

The SuperSpeed interface has made significant strides in the market recently, with bulk USB 3.0 host controllers priced near $2 to $3.  Conversely, Thunderbolt requires more components which help to contribute to a higher price.  Thunderbolt needs a host chip, a device chip and supplemental chips to correspond to the type of device used.  Intel’s Thunderbolt chips are priced at $10 to $15 a piece.  Consequently, it would be nearly irresponsible not to offer USB 3.0 through Apple with its 2.0 backward compatibility.

While Thunderbolt surpasses the data transfer speeds of USB 3.0 by double, the cost is not the only thing mismatched to the consumer.  At this point in time, the average daily user’s data applications and capacity needs don’t require the throughput of Thunderbolt.  Additionally, having a new 100 watt boost for the USB 3.0 specs gives SuperSpeed an edge over Thunderbolt with superior power delivery.

While Thunderbolt isn’t going anywhere, an Apple USB 3.0 marriage would open up countless digital options for consumers.  For those who held back from getting Apple only for lack of SuperSpeed support, there’s no reason not to indulge if the rumors turn out to be true.  USB 3.0 flash drives and hard drives for your documents and multimedia would have fewer system limitations.  Apple devices like iPods, iPads and iPhones would also likely follow suit in terms of support to pave the way for USB 3.0 use for the company’s innovative devices as well as for competitor’s tablets.

For Apple, the interface can provide both the speed and price point that consumers crave:  USB 2.0 has started to feel slow for users  with growing gigs and HD video and 3.0 is at a price mainstream enough to not scare people in the way that Thunderbolt might.  You could call USB 3.0 a happy medium.

If the USB 3.0 Apple rumor comes true, what would this mean for you?  How would it change your data applications?

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