USB 3.0 Supported By Major Operating Systems: Mac OSX, Windows 8, More
There’s no question that at the rate things are going USB 3.0 will soon replace USB 2.0 as the most mainstream bus interface. More and more devices are coming out with support for the interface, and the growth shows no signs of stopping.
It’s obvious that there’s a lot of third party support for USB 3.0. But what about support found in operating systems? Both Windows 8 and Mac Mountain Lion OSX operating systems will have native support of the USB 3.0 interface, but other OS’s are not jumping so quickly.
Let’s start with Apple. For the most part, the company has kept mum regarding USB 3.0 support for Mac OS X. Before the release of Mountain Lion, there was even debate on whether or not Apple will adapt the new USB interface into its products, considering that the company has been fairly enthusiastic with the Thunderbolt interface. Come mid-June 2012, however, and Apple released its brand new line of Macbook Airs and Macbook Pros, all sporting USB 3.0 ports. So, while Mountain Lion supports USB 3.0, the previous versions of Mac do not.
Unlike Apple, Microsoft was quick to affirm support for the USB 3.0 interface in Windows 8. By late 2011, the news was out and about. Microsoft engineers spent a lot of time developing the new USB 3.0 software stack for Windows 8. The company wanted to get rid of the old USB 1.1/2.0 drivers and start on a blank slate. As a continuation of this clean slate concept, UASP support is being developed to replace the old BOT protocol of USB 2.0 in order to allow for complex and simultaneous completion of commands. This will result in decreased CPU usage and increased data transfer speeds for devices such as USB 3.0 flash drives. As for the previous versions of Windows, notably Windows 7, Vista, and XP, Intel and some other companies continually update their own software stacks in order to offer third party support for USB 3.0.
As of now, Linux has to sit out of the compatibility race. Being free and open source is playing against the platform’s potential. Though Linux developers are very much interested in supporting USB 3.0, they have to wait until the xHCI specification that allows USB 3.0 support is released to the public. Once that’s done, Linux will be sure to follow suit with its own software stack for USB 3.0.