USB cables are one of the most popular and standard cables in the technology and networking world. In fact, approximately three billion USB ports are shipped each year on average, making them by far the most successful type of peripheral connection. Most people understand the basics of what a USB cable is used for, but many don’t realize there are actually different versions to choose from. The most recent update to the series is the 3.0 USB.
USB 3.0 cables offer a variety of uses and improvements over the older standards. For starters, the 3.0 USB cable can handle larger amounts of data at faster rates. This is because these newer cables have higher signaling rates of 5Gbps (625MB/sec), asynchronous instead of polled traffic flow, dual-simplex simultaneous bi-directional data flow for SuperSpeed instead of half-duplex unidirectional data flow, and better power management overall.
The internal specification upgrades don’t end there, though. The USB 3.0 unit load has been increased to 150 mA and a configured device can draw up to six unit loads, which adds up to 900 mA. This results in an efficiency increase of about 80% when compared to USB 2.0 and leads to faster recharging or powering of more than four devices from a single hub. In addition, 3.0 cables are actually more environmentally friendly. The minimum device operating voltage was dropped from 4.4 V to 4 V,
which saves energy.
To put these numbers into perspective, 3.0 USB cables can transfer a 10 GB file from your computer to an external drive in approximately 25 seconds. This same process would take a 2.0 USB cable more than five minutes.
Another great aspect of USB 3.0 is that they can be used with USB 2.0 products as well. They are backwards compatible with USB 2.0, so whether you get a new USB 3.0 device or a new computer that supports USB 3.0, your old device will be able to communicate with the new interface. Some of the devices that will benefit the most from USB 3.0 include HD webcams, Blu-Ray drives, or some external hard drives. These devices are already outspeed USB 2.0 naturally so the faster cable will only help them work more efficiently and productively.