USB 3 test spec to be in Apple's hands by June

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A new USB standard that would bump data throughput to 5Gbps is slated to arrive as a test specification in June, with a possible final release ready for Apple adoption by next year.



Agilent Technologies has announced at a recent Tokyo seminar that Test Specification 1.0 of the new USB standard, known as USB 3.0, will be released to manufacturers by the end of June.



After the release, compatibility tests for transmitting and receiving circuits will begin, and the USB Implementers Forum Inc. (USB-IF) will hold a compliance workshop at the end of this year to make the final tweaks.



"USB 3.0-compatible end products certified by USB-IF are expected to debut in 2010," the Nikkei-owned Asian tech news site Tech-On reported. USB-IF will also host a meeting for USB 3.0 developers late next month.



According to the USB-IF website, the new standard will be ten times faster than the current Hi-Speed USB standard (USB 2.0). At the same time it's also more power-efficient, leading to lower active and idle power requirements. Like its predecessor, USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.



"SuperSpeed USB is the next advancement in ubiquitous technology," said USB-IF president and chairman Jeff Ravencraft last November. "Today's consumers are using rich media and large digital files that need to be easily and quickly transferred from PCs to devices and vice versa."



Apple is absent from the USB 3.0 Promoter Group of Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, ST-NXP Wireless and Texas Instruments. However, the company has frequently been among the first to adopt new technologies, such as its use of Mini DisplayPort, EFI, 802.11n and wireless networking in general, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, and even USB itself.



Apple and USB



A decade ago, PS/2 ports for keyboards and mice, RS-232 serial ports, and Centronics parallel interfaces were entrenched on generic PCs when Apple launched the original iMac in 1998 with only USB ports, many years ahead of the mainstream PC market. While some PCs had added USB jacks, they were often poorly supported in software and peripheral makers were extremely slow to offer any devices using USB.



Many PCs continued to use those "legacy ports" for a half decade or more after the iMac arrived, but Apple decisively upgraded to USB across the board on its Macs and jettisoned the Mac's former serial and ADB ports for the faster, more modern, and versatile USB standard. That move may have created some short term pain for users, but resulted in major long term gains that not only resulted in standardization on the USB specification for the Mac platform, but also served as a catalyst to bring USB to a wider audience among generic PC users as well. For years, nearly all USB devices shipped in translucent plastics seeking to match Apple's iMacs.







"We are going to the new generation of IO," interim chief executive Steve Jobs said at the May 1998 introduction just a year and a half after his return to Apple. "Twelve megabit universal serial bus ports. We're leaving the old Apple IO behind."



USB vs Firewire



Ten years later, Apple removed FireWire from the streamlined MacBook Air and its entry level 13-inch MacBook, leading Jobs to respond to a complaining customer's e-mail with a single sentence: "Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2." In the months since, Apple has rapidly upgraded the FireWire ports on its higher end Macs with the faster FireWire 800 specification, which is backwardly compatible with existing FireWire 400 devices.



However, until this last year Apple's move to FireWire 800 had been incrementally, glacially slow, with the faster ports first appearing only on higher end Macs as a differentiating feature back in 2003, and many models since sporting both FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 ports. After its decisive move to the original USB 1.0 specification in 1998, Apple was also slower to move to USB 2.0 than the industry in general, with the first USB 2.0 ports only showing up in mid 2003. In part, this may have reflected the tension between Apple and Intel over the two specifications.



Apple had been working to promote FireWire in the hopes of gaining licensing fees from it, as the company had invented the standard prior to handing it over to the IEEE standards body. USB 1.0 had been developed by Intel to serve more humble uses. USB lacks the interface intelligence to perform as well as FireWire (USB relies on the host computer's CPU to handle much of the work) or to serve as a networking interface, or to act as an intelligent peripheral (preventing it from supporting Apple's Target Disk Mode).



In response to Apple's attempt to earn licensing fees from FireWire, Intel released USB 2.0, which promised theoretical speeds faster than FireWire 400, even though the specification could not actually perform nearly as fast. USB 2.0 was also cheaper to implement, and PC economies of scale rapidly made it a ubiquitous standard. In 2003 Apple saw the writing on the wall and began adding the new USB 2.0 ports to its Macs, PowerBooks, and the new iPod. The iPod helped hasten Apple's move to USB, as the device needed to support USB 2.0 to sell to a wider audience of PC users, few of whom had functional FireWire ports on their computers.



Within a couple years, the added expense of FireWire hardware resulted in Apple moving the iPods from dual support for USB 2.0 and FireWire to support for USB 2.0 only. On desktop and notebook computers, the FireWire continues to offer enough additional features to warrant the additional costs of supplying both interfaces. The new USB 3.0 specification promises to outrun FireWire 800 in speed, but still lacks the unique features of FireWire necessary to support Target Mode, for example.



Because Apple now relies on Intel and NVIDIA to supply its controller chips, future Macs will undoubtedly move to USB 3.0 at the same time, or in advance of, the rest of the generic PC makers. Future iPod and iPhone models are also likely to quickly adopt the new standard once it is finalized, making mobile desktop sync even faster.



This may even serve as a differentiating factor, as many competing smartphones, including Google's Android platform and the My Phone system unveiled by Microsoft for Windows Mobile devices, are intending to move toward cloud sync over the relatively slow mobile networks for all data sync and backup; Apple continues to promote its iPods and iPhones as managed directly from a computer running iTunes over a much faster USB sync.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 122
    Im excited for USB 3.0, i need a new computer by December, and i think the one thing that stinks most about that date is the fact that USB 3.0 will probably be released just a few months afterwards, while i might not need it right away, i can easily see myself needing it within a few years after.



    im one of those people that do not need firewire so i can take it or leave it, USB is much bigger news for me.



    one question though, if you have a device... lets say an 2009 iPhone (whatever is released this summer) and it has all the connections for USB obviously, when you plug it into a USB 3.0 computer with USB 3.0 cords will it have USB 3.0 speeds? or does the device and computer both have to be set up for USB 3.0?
  • Reply 2 of 122
    How is it that this article completely ignores the faster FireWire S1600 & S3200?! Read:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewir...1600_and_S3200



    My bet is Apple will adopt a faster FW after WWDC...
  • Reply 3 of 122
    lolz at that video... "It's the most wonderful mouse you've ever used"



    Brings back some good memories though
  • Reply 4 of 122
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Firewire is far superior to USB in real-world tests. Even Firewire 400 is far superior to USB 2, and Firewire 3200 has been out for months now. Besides, you cannot repair via Target Disk Mode using USB! Apple, bring back the great Firewire to all Macs!
  • Reply 5 of 122
    That first iMac was such a pleasure to work with, and endeed a very good looking "friend" to me! Miss ya!
  • Reply 6 of 122
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Firewire is far superior to USB in real-world tests. Even Firewire 400 is far superior to USB 2, and Firewire 3200 has been out for months now. Besides, you cannot repair via Target Disk Mode using USB! Apple, bring back the great Firewire to all Macs!



    One of my jobs involves a lot of transferring data between Macs, and I can say the lack of FireWire on the MacBooks is highly annoying.
  • Reply 7 of 122
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SmilinGoat View Post


    im one of those people that do not need firewire so i can take it or leave it



    Really? Anyone may need Firewire to repair any Mac via Target Disk Mode. You cannot repair that way via USB. All Mac users do need Firewire.
  • Reply 8 of 122
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Really? Anyone may need Firewire to repair any Mac via Target Disk Mode. You cannot repair that way via USB. All Mac users do need Firewire.



    You can do the same task by starting up from the OS X Install DVD. It's slow and annoying, but doable.
  • Reply 9 of 122
    When Apple will start incorporating USB 3.0 in all Macs specially in MBs and MBPs?
  • Reply 10 of 122
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by holywarrior007 View Post


    When Apple will start incorporating USB 3.0 in all Macs specially in MBs and MBPs?



    It would be a safe bet to assume late 2010.



    K
  • Reply 11 of 122
    djpadzdjpadz Posts: 37member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mariofreak85 View Post


    You can do the same task by starting up from the OS X Install DVD. It's slow and annoying, but doable.



    What about the migration wizard? Doesn't that require a Firewire connection?
  • Reply 12 of 122
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SmilinGoat View Post


    Im excited for USB 3.0, i need a new computer by December, and i think the one thing that stinks most about that date is the fact that USB 3.0 will probably be released just a few months afterwards, while i might not need it right away, i can easily see myself needing it within a few years after.



    im one of those people that do not need firewire so i can take it or leave it, USB is much bigger news for me.



    one question though, if you have a device... lets say an 2009 iPhone (whatever is released this summer) and it has all the connections for USB obviously, when you plug it into a USB 3.0 computer with USB 3.0 cords will it have USB 3.0 speeds? or does the device and computer both have to be set up for USB 3.0?



    USB uses optical wires for its speed, but the older USB 2 cables can be used, as the ports have a dual functionality. You can plug either the new optical cable in or the older USB 2. Only USB 2 speeds will be available from the USB 2 cable.
  • Reply 13 of 122
    cubertcubert Posts: 728member
    From the article:



    "In the months since, Apple has rapidly upgraded the FireWire ports on its higher end Macs with the faster FireWire 800 specification, which is backwardly compatible with existing FireWire 400 devices."



    It is?!?!? Maybe if you take a hammer to the 400 plug.
  • Reply 14 of 122
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post


    How is it that this article completely ignores the faster FireWire S1600 & S3200?! Read:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewir...1600_and_S3200



    My bet is Apple will adopt a faster FW after WWDC...



    That also won't be available for a while, likely also in 2010. 1600 may be available sooner, but there is nothing that can use the speed, and as it's just an interim solution, why would anyone really bother?



    FW 3200 will find very limited uses. Maybe Apple will use it on the Mac Pro.
  • Reply 15 of 122
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Firewire is far superior to USB in real-world tests. Even Firewire 400 is far superior to USB 2, and Firewire 3200 has been out for months now. Besides, you cannot repair via Target Disk Mode using USB! Apple, bring back the great Firewire to all Macs!



    FW 3200 has NOT been out for months. The spec was released, as was the USB 3 spec, several months ago. Please get your facts straight.
  • Reply 16 of 122
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djpadz View Post


    What about the migration wizard? Doesn't that require a Firewire connection?



    No. It works over Ethernet.
  • Reply 17 of 122
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,381member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Cubert View Post


    From the article:



    "In the months since, Apple has rapidly upgraded the FireWire ports on its higher end Macs with the faster FireWire 800 specification, which is backwardly compatible with existing FireWire 400 devices."



    It is?!?!? Maybe if you take a hammer to the 400 plug.



    So, spend the $10 for an 800 to 400 adapter, or a few more for a cable.



    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/firew...nd-hubs/cables
  • Reply 18 of 122
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,400member
    The computer industry was once such a mess that Apple had the freedom to carve their own path, a superior one, and then the computer industry followed suit. Things have changed, though. With USB and a tremendous focus on cross-platform compatibility the past few years, Apple can no longer afford (or is interested in) making drastic changes to the status quo. They want to deliver the best consumer experience across the board, and that means compatibility. I can't see them making Firewire dominate over USB, especially when USB is good enough for most of their customers. Just my sad realization.
  • Reply 19 of 122
    I know this is nitpicking, but the article mentions that before the iMac's release PCs has Centronics parallel ports. You're getting your port names wrong. Centronics are the ports that were on the Printer side. Parallel ports on the PC side were db-25 similar to the old SCSI connections on Macs.
  • Reply 20 of 122
    l255jl255j Posts: 57member
    I don't understand why USB 3 is needed. I've yet to ever, in all my computing days, come anywhere close to the 60 Megabyte per second transfer rate advertised for USB 2. It's never more than...2 Megabytes a second.
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