What Is USB 3.0? Get the Facts

From printers and monitors to storage drives, keyboards, mouses and more, countless computers peripherals use a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection. It’s become the de-facto standard for connecting peripherals to a computer. But not all USB ports are made equal. The latest generation of USB, known as USB 3.0, offers a superior level of performance to its predecessors in several ways.

USB 3.0 Explained

USB 3.0 is the third, and latest, version of the USB standard for connecting peripherals to computers and other electronic devices. It was developed by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group — a consortium of tech companies including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, NEC and ST-Ericsson — in 2008 as the successor to USB 2.0.

USB 3.0 Benefits and Features

Why should use USB 3.0 instead of USB 2.0? First and foremost, it’s able to provide faster data transfer speeds. USB 2.0 offers a practical speed of roughly 35 to 40 Mbps. In comparison, USB 3.0 offers a practical speed of roughly 300 Mbs as well as a theoretical speed of up to 5 Gbps. Therefore, USB 3.0 is about 10 times faster than its USB 2.0 predecessor.

With faster data transfer speeds, you can download and upload data more quickly using USB 3.0. This alone should be reason enough to switch from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0.

In addition to faster data transfer speeds, USB 3.0 also offers increased bandwidth. This is because it uses two unidirectional paths to transfer data rather than just one. One path is intended to transmit data, whereas the other path is intended to send data.

Furthermore, USB 3.0 uses NRDY and ERDY packets to notify the connected computer or device of the peripheral’s readiness.

What About USB 3.1 Gen 2?

There are actually several iterations of USB 3.0, the most recent of which is gen 2. Known as USB 3.1 Gen 2, it offers even faster data transfer speeds than the USB 3.0 standard. Dubbed SuperSpeed USB, it can theoretically transfer data between a peripheral and a connected computer or device at a rate of up to 10 Gbps. At speeds such as this, you can transfer entire storage drives in just seconds.

If you’re looking to invest in a new computer for your small business, you should inspect the USB ports. Choosing a computer with outdated USB 2.0 ports could result in slow data transfer speeds that create bottlenecks in your business’s information technology (IT) infrastructure. As long as a computer has USB 3.0 or higher ports, though, you can rest assured knowing that it will offer blazing-fast data transfer speeds.