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SuperSpeed USB 3.0 will match Thunderbolt performance in 2014


With the addition of USB 3.0 to Apple's line of Macs, the Thunderbolt interface -- which hasn't really taken off -- may be relegated to the dustbin of history soon. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced at CES today that by 2014, USB 3.0 data-transfer speeds will be doubled from today's 5 gigabits per second to 10 Gbps.

The faster SuperSpeed USB 3.0 will require new controller hardware on the computers, so don't expect your 2012 or 2013 vintage Mac to be able to take advantage of the swift interface. The group is designing USB 3.0 to use the same connectors, so you will be able to plug existing devices into the higher-speed ports.

The revised SuperSpeed USB 3.0 may require new cables as well, as existing SuperSpeed USB cables aren't certified to operate at the 10 Gbps rate. The group also reported that they'll be upgrading the ability for USB to carry electrical current, meaning that mobile devices of the near future may charge faster.

The future isn't completely bleak for Thunderbolt, although the standard is being used only on Macs. Intel is working on faster versions of the standard, and the recent arrival of optical Thunderbolt cables means that storage devices can be located up to 100 feet away.

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