The standards-setting organization is working on a new specification that will enable data transfers at a rate of 10Gbps (bits per second), which is twice the speed of the current USB 3.0 protocol. The speed boost will enable PCs to move gigabytes of data in a matter of seconds to connected peripherals such as portable hard drives.
“We anticipate the specification to be finalized in July of this year and if it follows the typical path of adoption by manufacturers we should see end products by late 2014, early 2015,” a spokesman for USB-IF said in an email.
The new specification will be beneficial for moving video files, which are getting larger by the day with the adoption of higher pixel resolutions. The new specification will work with existing USB 3.0 ports, but will require new cables to handle the faster speeds.
It is not clear yet if the specification will ultimately make its way to mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets are recharged and transfer data to external devices via the micro-USB 2.0 port, and the USB 3.0 specification is expected to reach mobile devices soon. In addition to faster data transfer speeds, the mobile USB 3.0 protocol will be able to carry more power, which will help charge mobile devices faster.
Even with the new specification, USB will not match the data transfer speeds of Thunderbolt, an interconnect that was jointly developed by Intel and Apple and introduced in 2011. Intel earlier this week announced that it would boost the data transfer speeds of Thunderbolt to 20Gbps, which is twice its current speed.
But USB 3.0 ports are in most computers that ship today, while Thunderbolt is in Macs and just a handful of PCs that ship today. PC makers have resisted installing Thunderbolt as it is expensive, and there are few peripherals in the market. Intel sees USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt as being complementary technologies.