Even though USB 2.0 was the de facto connectivity standard for the technology industry, the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard quickly took over the market soon after it was approved.

The biggest reason for this was, obviously the 10 fold increase in transfer speeds.

Intel also jumped into the fray with its proprietary Thunderbolt technology — which actually works at 10 Gbps, and can be scaled up to a momentous 100 Gbps. But luckily for the USB Implementers Forum, Thunderbolt is not particularly familiar to customers, while at the same time is tad more costly.

Still, the Thunderbolt technology is slowly finding its way to PCs, and is no longer limited to the various Apple Macs and MacBooks. Most Windows PCs (and peripherals) manufactured during the past couple of years now come with USB 3.0 ports.

Now the group that controls the USB specifications has just approved an even faster version of USB which brings increased data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps — double from the current 5 Gbps limit.

This new specification will be known as USB 3.1, and should spawn 10 Gbps ports soon, which will be backwards compatible with current USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices.

Brad Saunders, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group chairman stated:

“The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps.

The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development.”

The transfer rate of 10 Gbps is attained thanks to a much more efficient data encoding technique that effectively doubles the data throughput performance of the existing USB SuperSpeed (USB 3.0) standard.

SuperSpeed+ as it is now known also offers brings new power delivery profiles that allow up to 100W to be sent through a USB cable — theoretically allowing the charging of laptops and other devices, and removing the need for power bricks for external 3.5-inch hard drives.

No word yet on when the first USB 3.1 devices will hit the market, but the Promoter Group is planning to hold developer events (US in August, Ireland in October and an Asian destination in December) this year to help assist the development of these devices.

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