Predicting The Future of USB

By · Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Predicting The Future Of USBThe great thing about man is that he never stops looking for things that will improve his life. The case of the USB is a living testament to that. Sixteen years after it first started to exist (at the time of Windows 95), it has now become a fundamental part of every motherboard today. Not only that, custom shape USB drives are available in every size and color imaginable.

Wikipedia sources said that in 2008, there were a recorded 6 billion USB ports and interfaces in the market. That’s like one USB port per human on earth!

USB Updates So Far

The USB was originally designed to replace serial and parallel interfaces at that time, hence the name Universal Serial Bus. In other words, its designers did not envision it to become this big. From USB to USB 2.0, and now USB 3.0, the device’s backward compatibility has made USB still a good buy. Unlike other devices with later versions, once plug in your USB 3.0 in a USB 2.0 port, all you get is a suggestion from your PC that connection would have been faster if you use the device on a USB 3.0 port. Other than that, there is no major problem you would have to deal with. This is what makes both the makers and the users of USB happy.

Users of USB don’t have to deal with problems dealt by Apple users who, in order to connect their Thunderbolt device, must find a computer with Thunderbolt port.

Today, Intel systems already incorporate at least four USB 3.0 ports, the future of USB looks even brighter. So after USB 3.0, what else is next for USB? Nope, not a USB 4.0, at least not yet. There are things that USB 3.0 can improve more on. Two important things: transfer speeds and power delivery.

Transfer Speeds

First up, the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UAS) is expected to allow SCSI commands to be read by USB which will make data transfers faster. Normally, USB sends data and commands in a single 64k block, which works fine with USB 1.0 and 2.0. But this is slow for the capabilities of USB 3.0. UAS changes this process by decoupling the commands and placing them in each of its own stream. This then increases the bandwidth, and hence, faster transfer that is limited only by the storage solution you use. However, this comes with a price. While Windows 8 already supports UAS, to make it work effectively means a change in your PC’s hardware, too. A capable but more expensive motherboard is your lone solution for now.

Power Delivery

Secondly, there’s the aspect of power delivery. Yes, USB has already become the universal standard for charging mobile devices. The recent development has been the ability of a USB to connect either only for data transfer or only for charging. This is the case for some of the latest tablets today. Now what the makers of USB 3.0 can improve on is the actual power delivery of a PC. At 4.5W (the ability of a USB 3.0), it is still impossible to charge larger drives or devices. Recently, the USB Implementers Forum finalized a power delivery specification of 100W, a power ten times that of Intel’s Thunderbolt technology. This, however, is still not enough. For what USB 3.0 can actually improve on is the possibility of being able to charge everything into your PC. Imagine your printer, monitor, speakers, and other devices all powered by your own PC. That would spare you from seeing those wires at the back of your PC, save you some space, and even keep you from problems like faulty wiring.

Now all we can do is to wait. But as they say, patience is a virtue.

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