USB 3.0

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. These are the rectangular ports on your computer. Most computers have several USB ports in the back and a few in the front. You can use USB to plug in a printer, scanner, Ipod, flash drives, external hard drives, phone, and all sorts of things.

When USB first hit the scene, it was nice, but slow. The second version of USB was USB 2.0. It was also called high speed USB. It started showing up on computers in 2001. USB 2.0 was much faster than the first version of USB. The first version of USB could transfer about 183 thousand bytes per second whereas USB 2.0 can transfer about 57 million bytes per second.

If these numbers don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry. USB 2.0 is good for a lot of things. But even though it’s a lot faster than the original USB, it’s still kind of slow for some things.

Now USB 3.0 has just come out. It is also called super speed USB. It can handle 3.8 billion bytes per second. That’s pretty darn fast.

So what does this mean for the average computer and user? To answer that, let’s look at how the faster USB 2.0 changed things. USB 2.0 became popular because it was a standard port that was pretty fast. Soon, devices that plugged into the computer through special ports started plugging into USB. Printers, for example, used to plug into parallel ports. With USB 2.0, printers began changing and plugging in through USB instead. Now when you buy a new computer, it doesn’t even have a parallel port on it. Dell stopped putting PS2 ports on their computers years ago. PS2 ports are where the mouse and keyboard normally plug into. The mouse and keyboards on Dell computers plug into USB.

So what devices might USB 3.0 take over? It could replace the network (Ethernet) plug on your computer. It could replace the plug where you display plugs in. It could replace eSATA, firewire (1394), and even sound plugs. It could potentally replace most every plug on your computer except for the power cord.

USB 3.0 is special hardware. To get it, you either need to purchase a new computer with USB 3.0 on it, or purchase an expansion card which will add USB 3.0 ports to your computer. Most people won’t need to do this. If you purchase a computer that has USB 3.0 ports on it, you’ll be happy to know that you can still plug USB 2.0 devices into USB 3.0 ports. But the opposite isn’t true.

Watch out for USB 3.0. It’s going to change the way we compute.

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