USB 3.0

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

USB 3.0
The SuperSpeed USB logo
The SuperSpeed USB logo
DesignedNovember 2008
ManufacturerUSB 3.0 Promoter Group (Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments)[1]
SupersededUSB 2.0 Hi-Speed
Superseded byUSB 3.1 (July 2013)
Width12 mm (A plug), 8 mm (B plug), 12.2 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B plugs)
Height4.5 mm (A plug), 10.44 mm (B plug), 1.8 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B plugs)
Max. current900 mA
Data signalYes
Bitrate5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s)
Jump to: navigation, search
"SuperSpeed" redirects here. For the superpower, see list of superhuman features and abilities in fiction.
USB 3.0
The SuperSpeed USB logo
The SuperSpeed USB logo
DesignedNovember 2008
ManufacturerUSB 3.0 Promoter Group (Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments)[1]
SupersededUSB 2.0 Hi-Speed
Superseded byUSB 3.1 (July 2013)
Width12 mm (A plug), 8 mm (B plug), 12.2 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B plugs)
Height4.5 mm (A plug), 10.44 mm (B plug), 1.8 mm (Micro-A & Micro-B plugs)
Max. current900 mA
Data signalYes
Bitrate5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s)

USB 3.0 is the third major version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard for computer connectivity. Among other improvements, USB 3.0 adds a new transfer mode called "SuperSpeed" (SS), capable of transferring data at up to 5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s), which is more than ten times as fast as the 480 Mbit/s (60 MB/s) high speed of USB 2.0. Beside different connectors used on USB 3.0 cables, they are also distinguishable from their 2.0 counterparts by either the blue color of the ports or the SS initials on the plugs.

A successor standard named USB 3.1 was released in July 2013, providing transfer rates up to 10 Gbit/s (1.25 GB/s, called "SuperSpeed+"), which effectively put it on par with the first version of Thunderbolt.

Differences in comparison to USB 2.0[edit]

The USB 3.0 specification is similar to USB 2.0 but with many improvements and an alternative implementation. Earlier USB concepts like endpoints and four transfer types (bulk, control, isochronous and interrupt) are preserved but the protocol and electrical interface are different. The specification defines a physically separate channel to carry USB 3.0 traffic. The changes in this specification make improvements in the following areas:

USB 3.0 has transmission speeds of up to 5 Gbit/s, which is ten times faster than USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/s) before taking into account that USB 3.0 is full duplex whereas USB 2.0 is half duplex, giving USB 3.0 the potential total bandwidth if utilized both ways to twenty times that of USB 2.0.[3]

Architecture and features[edit]

Close-up of a Standard-A USB 3.0 connector, showing its front row of four pins for the USB 1.x/2.0 backwards compatibility, and a second row of five pins for the new USB 3.0 connectivity.

In USB 3.0, dual-bus architecture is used to allow both USB 2.0 (Full Speed, Low Speed, or High Speed) and USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) operations to take place simultaneously, thus providing backward compatibility. Connections are such that they also permit forward compatibility, that is, running USB 3.0 devices on USB 2.0 ports. The structural topology is the same, consisting of a tiered star topology with a root hub at level 0 and hubs at lower levels to provide bus connectivity to devices.

Data transfer and synchronization[edit]

The SuperSpeed transaction is initiated by the host making a request followed by a response from the device. The device either accepts the request or rejects it; if accepted, the device sends data or accepts data from the host. If the endpoint is halted, the device shall respond with a STALL handshake. If there is lack of buffer space or data, it responds with a Not Ready (NRDY) signal to tell the host that it is not able to process the request. When the device is ready, it will send an Endpoint Ready (ERDY) to the host which will then reschedule the transaction.

The use of unicasting and the limited multicasting of packets, combined with asynchronous notifications, enables links that are not actively passing packets to be put into reduced power states, allowing for better power management.

Data encoding[edit]

The "SuperSpeed" bus provides for a transfer mode at a nominal rate of 5.0 Gbit/s, in addition to the three existing transfer modes. Accounting for the encoding overhead, the raw data throughput is 4 Gbit/s, and the specification considers it reasonable to achieve 3.2 Gbit/s (0.4 GB/s or 400 MB/s) or more in practice.[4]

All data is sent as a stream of eight bits (one-byte segments) that are scrambled and then converted into a 10-bit format, what is known as the 8b/10b encoding. This helps to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI). The inverse process is carried out at the receiving end. Scrambling is implemented using a free running linear feedback shift register (LFSR). The LFSR is reset whenever a COM symbol is sent or received.[4]

Unlike previous standards, the USB 3.0 standard does not directly specify a maximum cable length, requiring only that all cables meet an electrical specification: for copper cabling with AWG 26 wires the maximum practical length is 3 meters (9.8 ft).[5]


The USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced on 17 November 2008 that the specification of version 3.0 had been completed and had made the transition to the USB Implementers’ Forum (USB-IF), the managing body of USB specifications.[6] This move effectively opened the specification to hardware developers for implementation in future products.

The first USB 3.0 consumer products were announced and shipped by Buffalo Technology in November 2009, while the first certified USB 3.0 consumer products were announced January 5, 2010, at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including two motherboards by ASUS and Gigabyte Technology.[7][8]

Manufacturers of USB 3.0 host controllers include, but are not limited to, Renesas Electronics, Fresco Logic, ASMedia Technology, Etron, VIA Technologies, Texas Instruments, NEC and Nvidia. As of November 2010, Renesas and Fresco Logic[9] have passed USB-IF certification. Motherboards for Intel's Sandy Bridge processors have been seen with Asmedia and Etron host controllers as well. On October 28, 2010, Hewlett-Packard released the HP Envy 17 3D featuring a Renesas USB 3.0 host controller several months before some of their competitors. AMD worked with Renesas to add its USB 3.0 implementation into its chipsets for its 2011 platforms.[dated info] At CES2011, Toshiba unveiled a laptop called "Toshiba Qosmio X500" that included USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0, and Sony released a new series of Sony VAIO laptops that will include USB 3.0. As of April 2011, the Inspiron and Dell XPS series are available with USB 3.0 ports, and, as of May 2012, the Dell Latitude laptop series, yet the USB root hosts fail to work at SuperSpeed under Windows 8. On June 11, 2012, Apple announced new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pro with USB 3.0.

Adding to existing equipment[edit]

USB 3.0 controller in form of a PCI Express card
Side connectors on a laptop computer. Left to right: USB 3.0 host, VGA connector, DisplayPort connector, USB 2.0 host. Note the additional pins on the top side of the USB 3.0 port.

In laptop computers that lack USB 3.0 ports but have an ExpressCard slot, USB 3.0 ports can be added by using an ExpressCard-to-USB 3.0 adapter. Although the ExpressCard port itself is powered from a 3.3 V line, the connector also has a USB 2.0 port available to it (some express cards actually use the USB 2.0 interface rather than the true express card port). However, this USB 2.0 port is only capable of supplying the power for one USB 3.0 port. Where multiple ports are provided on the express card, additional power will need to be provided.[10]

Additional power for multiple ports on a laptop PC may be derived in the following ways:

On the motherboards of desktop PCs which have PCI Express (PCIe) slots (or the older PCI standard), USB 3.0 support can be added as a PCI Express expansion card. In addition to an empty PCIe slot on the motherboard, many "PCI Express to USB 3.0" expansion cards must be connected to a power supply such as a Molex adapter or external power supply, in order to power many USB 3.0 devices such as mobile phones, or external hard drives that have no power source other than USB; as of 2011, this is often used to supply two (2) to four (4) USB 3.0 ports with the full 0.9 A (4.5 W) of power that each USB 3.0 port is capable of (while also transmitting data), whereas the PCI Express slot itself cannot supply the 0.9 A.

If faster connections to storage devices are the reason to consider USB 3.0, an alternative is to use instead storage devices using eSATAp and add an inexpensive bracket adding an eSATAp port to the motherboard. Some external drives support both USB (2.0 or 3.0) and eSATAp with an exchangeable adapter, so the same drive can be used with a USB 3.0 laptop.[8] To ensure compatibility between motherboards and peripherals, all USB-certified devices must be approved by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). At least one complete end-to-end test system for USB 3.0 designers is on the market.[11]


The USB Promoter Group announced the release of USB 3.0 on November 2008. On 5 January 2010, USB-IF announced the first two certified USB 3.0 motherboards, one by Asus and one by Gigabyte.[8][12] Previous announcements included Gigabyte's October 2009 list of seven P55 chipset USB 3.0 motherboards,[13] and an ASUS motherboard that was cancelled before production.[14]

Commercial controllers were expected to enter into volume production in the first quarter of 2010.[15] On 14 September 2009, Freecom announced a USB 3.0 external hard drive.[16] On January 4, 2010, Seagate announced a small portable HDD bundled with an additional USB 3.0 ExpressCard, targeted for laptops (or desktops with ExpressCard slot addition) at the CES in Las Vegas Nevada.[17][18]

The Linux kernel has supported USB 3.0 since version 2.6.31, which was released in September 2009.[19][20][21]

Windows 8 was the first Microsoft operating system to offer built in support for USB 3.0.[22] Drivers are under development for Windows 7, but support was not included with the initial release of the operating system.[23] However, drivers that enable support for Windows 7 are available through websites of hardware manufacturers.

Intel released its first chipset with integrated USB 3.0 ports in 2012 with the release of the Panther Point chipset. Some industry analysts have claimed that Intel was slow to integrate USB 3.0 into the chipset, thus slowing mainstream adoption.[24] These delays may be due to problems in the CMOS manufacturing process,[25] a focus to advance the Nehalem platform,[26] a wait to mature all the 3.0 connections standards (USB 3.0, PCIe 3.0, SATA 3.0) before developing a new chipset,[27][28] or a tactic by Intel to favor its new Thunderbolt interface.[29] Apple, Inc. announced laptops with USB 3.0 ports on June 11, 2012, nearly four years after USB 3.0 was finalized.

AMD began supporting USB 3.0 with its Fusion Controller Hubs in 2011. Samsung Electronics announced support of USB 3.0 with its ARM-based Exynos 5 Dual platform intended for handheld devices.

Speed and compatibility issues[edit]

Early versions of the widely used[30] NEC/Renesas µD72020x family of host controllers are known to require a firmware update to function properly with some devices.[31][32][33]

All major test-equipment vendors offer tools for testing devices and cables against USB 3.0 electrical compliance requirements. Electrical testing requires a USB 3.0 test board[34] providing type A, B, or mini AB electrical compliance test breakout adapters.

A factor affecting the speed of USB storage devices (more evident with USB 3.0 devices, but also noticeable with USB 2.0 ones) is that the USB Mass Storage Bulk-Only Transfer (BOT) protocol drivers are generally slower than the USB Attached SCSI protocol (UAS[P]) drivers.[35][36][37][38]

On some old (2009–2010) Ibex Peak-based motherboards, the built-in USB 3.0 chipsets are connected by default via a 2.5 GT/s PCI Express lane of the PCH, which back then did not provide full PCI Express 2.0 speed (5 GT/s), so it did not provide enough bandwidth even for a single USB 3.0 port. Early versions of such boards (e.g. the Gigabyte Technology P55A-UD4 or P55A-UD6) have a manual switch (in BIOS) that can connect the USB 3.0 chip to the processor (instead of the PCH), which did provide full-speed PCI Express 2.0 connectivity even back then, but this meant using fewer PCI Express 2.0 lanes for the graphics card; however, newer boards (e.g. Gigabyte P55A-UD7 or the Asus P7P55D-E Premium) used a channel bonding technique (in the case of those boards provided by a PLX PEX8608 or PEX8613 PCI Express switch) that combines two PCI Express 2.5 GT/s lanes into a single PCI Express 5 GT/s lane (among other features), thus obtaining the necessary bandwidth from the PCH.[39][40][41]

Radio frequency interference[edit]

USB 3.0 devices and cables may interfere with wireless devices operating in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. This may result in a drop in throughput or complete loss of response with Bluetooth and WiFi devices.[42] Various strategies can be applied to resolve the problem, ranging from simple solutions such as increasing the distance of USB 3.0 devices from WiFi routers and Bluetooth devices, to applying additional shielding around internal computer components.[43]


USB 3.0 Standard-A receptacle, in blue color (Pantone 300C)
USB 3.0 Standard-B plug
USB 3.0 Micro-B plug

A USB 3.0 Standard-A receptacle accepts either a USB 3.0 Standard-A plug or a USB 2.0 Standard-A plug. Conversely, it is possible to plug a USB 3.0 Standard-A plug into a USB 2.0 Standard-A receptacle. Similar principle of backwards compatibility applies to connecting a USB 2.0 Standard-A plug into a USB 3.0 Standard-A receptacle. The Standard-A is used for connecting to a computer port, at the host side.

A USB 3.0 Standard-B receptacle accepts either a USB 3.0 Standard-B plug or a USB 2.0 Standard-B plug. Backwards compatibility applies to connecting a USB 2.0 Standard-B plug into a USB 3.0 Standard-B receptacle. Though, it is not possible to plug a USB 3.0 Standard-B plug into a USB 2.0 Standard-B receptacle, due to a physically larger connector. The Standard-B is used at the device side.

Since USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports may coexist on the same machine and they look similar, USB 3.0 specification mandates appropriate color-coding and recommends that the Standard-A USB 3.0 connector has a blue insert (Pantone 300C color). The same color-coding applies to the USB 3.0 Standard-A plug.[4]:sections and

USB 3.0 also introduced a new Micro-B cable plug, which consists of a standard USB 1.x/2.0 Micro-B cable plug, with additional 5-pin plug "stacked" on side of it. That way, USB 3.0 Micro-A host connector preserved its backward compatibility with the USB 1.x/2.0 Micro-B cable plugs. However, it is not possible to plug a USB 3.0 Micro-B plug into a USB 2.0 Micro-B receptacle, due to a physically larger connector.


The connector has the same physical configuration as its predecessor but with five more pins.

The VBUS, D−, D+, and GND pins are required for USB 2.0 communication. The additional USB 3.0 pins are two differential pairs and one ground (GND_DRAIN). The two additional differential pairs are for SuperSpeed data transfer; they are used for dual simplex SuperSpeed signaling. The GND_DRAIN pin is for drain wire termination and to control EMI and maintain signal integrity.

USB 3.0 Connector Pinouts[44]
PinColorSignal name
("A" Connector)
Signal name
("B" Connector)
ShellN/AShieldMetal housing
2WhiteD−USB 2.0 differential pair
4BlackGNDGround for power return
5BlueStdA_SSRX−StdB_SSTX−SuperSpeed transmitter differential pair
7N/AGND_DRAINGround for signal return
8PurpleStdA_SSTX−StdB_SSRX−SuperSpeed receiver differential pair
The USB 3.0 "Powered-B" connector has two additional pins
10N/ADPWRPower provided by device (Powered-B only)
11DGNDGround return to DPWR (Powered-B only)

Backward compatibility[edit]

Type A plugs and receptacles from both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 (or earlier) are designed to interoperate.

Type B receptacles in USB 3.0 are larger than required for accepting a USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B plug. The larger USB 3.0 Type B receptacle accepts both the larger USB 3.0 Type B plug and the smaller USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B plug. Accordingly, a USB 3.0 Type B receptacle on a peripheral device can accept the corresponding plug end of a USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B cable.

Type B plugs in USB 3.0 are larger than USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B plugs. A USB 3.0 Type B plug, therefore, cannot be inserted into a USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B receptacle. Accordingly, USB 3.0 Type B plugs cannot be inserted into normal USB 2.0 (or earlier) Type B receptacles found on peripheral devices.

A receptacle for eSATAp, which is a eSATA/USB combo, is designed to accept USB Type A plugs from USB 2.0 (or earlier) and USB 3.0.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Intel Universal Serial Bus (USB) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  2. ^ Engbretson, Mike (January 2009). "USB 3.0 Physical Layer Measurements". Evaluation Engineering. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 
  3. ^ "USB 3.0 Technology" (PDF). 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  4. ^ a b c "Universal Serial Bus Revision 3.0 Specification". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  5. ^ Jan Axelson. "USB 3.0 Developers FAQ". Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  6. ^ "USB‐IF" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  7. ^ "First Certified USB 3.0 Products Announced". PC World. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  8. ^ a b c SuperSpeed USB Consumer Cert Final 2 (PDF), USB‐IF 
  9. ^ "Usb-if announces second certified usb 3.0 host controller" (Press release). USB Implementers Forum, Inc. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  10. ^ "The Must-Know Benefits of USB 3.0". Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  11. ^ "USB 3". Lecroy. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  12. ^ Both Gigabyte and Asus claimed the "first" USB 3.0 motherboard, Gigabyte, USA, 2010-01-04 [dead link] and Asus, USA, 2010-01-06 , while the official announcement, USB-IF, 2010-01-05 
  13. ^ Gibabyte, TW [dead link].
  14. ^ "Asus cancels its first usb 3.0 motherboard". The Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  15. ^ "Digitimes". 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-06-22. [dead link]
  17. ^ Ngo, Dong (2010-01-05). "Seagate ships USB 3.0-based external hard-drive kit for laptops | CES". CNET. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  18. ^ "BlackArmor PS 110 with USB 3.0 | Portable Hard Drive for Business with Backup Software". Seagate. Archived from the original on 2010-08-15. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  19. ^ "Kernel newbies". 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  20. ^ "Erste USB 3.0 Treiber" [First USB 3 drivers coming with Linux 2.6.31]. DE: Heise. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  21. ^ "First driver for USB 3.0". Linux magazine. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  22. ^ Bob McVay (2011-09-15). "Understanding USB 3.0 in Windows 8 | BUILD2011 | Channel 9". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  23. ^ "USB in MS Windows 7 more reliable, but no 3.0 speed boost". APC Mag. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  24. ^ Crothers, Brooke (2010-04-07). "Long delay expected for Intel support of USB 3.0 | Nanotech - The Circuits Blog - CNET News". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  25. ^ Spekulationen über Verzögerungen bei USB 3.0 (in German), DE: Heise 
  26. ^ Paul Mah (2009-10-23). "". Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  27. ^ "FAQ — PCI Express 3.0". PCI SIG. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  28. ^ "PCIe 3.0 Specification Coming Soon". Enterprise storage forum. 2010-05-05. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  29. ^ "Intel delays USB 3.0 support until 2011". Techspot. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  30. ^ TeamVR (August 23, 2011). "USB 3.0 Speed Tests: 7-Way Host Controllers Roundup - Page 5 of 11". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  31. ^ "USB 3.0: Renesas Electronics* USB 3.0 Firmware Updates". Retrieved 2014-01-19. " These firmware updates resolve the following issues related to the USB 3.0 ports on these boards: • BIOS and operating system do not detect devices attached to the USB 3.0 ports. • System hangs on POST code 58 for one minute if any device is attached to USB 3.0 ports, and then continues the boot process. • In Device Manager, the Renesas* USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller is shown with a yellow bang and the error message "Windows has stopped this device because it has reported problems. Code 43"." 
  32. ^ "NEC uPD720200 USB 3.0 not working on Ubuntu 12.04". Ask Ubuntu. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  33. ^ "How to improve the compatibility of USB3.0 devices?". Gigabyte. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  34. ^ USB 3.0 test board 
  35. ^ Lars-Göran Nilsson (2010-07-30). "Gigabyte adds UASP support to its USB 3.0 motherboards". SemiAccurate. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  36. ^ Lars-Göran Nilsson (2010-08-11). "Gigabyte's UASP USB 3.0 driver boosts USB 2.0 performance". SemiAccurate. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  37. ^ Andrew Ku (2012-06-19). "USB Attached SCSI (UAS): Enabling Even Better USB 3.0 Performance - Faster USB 3.0 Performance: Examining UASP And Turbo Mode". Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  38. ^ Hamid, Adnan (2012-03-18). "What's the Difference Between USB UASP And BOT | Embedded content from". Electronic Design. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  39. ^ Thomas Soderstrom (2009-12-09). "New Motherboards From Asus And Gigabyte - USB 3.0 Performance: Two Solutions From Asus And Gigabyte". Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  40. ^ Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos (2010-08-26). "Gigabyte P55A-UD6 And UD7 (NEC PD720200) - Not All USB 3.0 Implementations Are Created Equal". Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  41. ^ PLX model numbers are from the P55A-UD7 manual, page 7 and ASUS P7P55D-E Premium manual p. 2-2; the P55A-UD7 has a block diagram on page 8
  42. ^ USB 3.0* Radio Frequency Interference Impact on 2.4 GHz Wireless Devices 
  43. ^ Lynn, Samara (2013-09-05). "Wireless Witch: The Truth About USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi Interference". Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  44. ^ "USB 3.0 Interface Bus, Cable Diagram".  100806

External links[edit]