For the last couple of years USB 3.0 has been left in the shade by the speed offered through the Thunderbolt interface. Where as USB 3.0 is 5Gbps, Thunderbolt doubles that to 10Gbps, and even quadruples it to 20Gbps over optical cabling.
Even though Thunderbolt has a major speed advantage, it hasn’t exactly become commonplace since its introduction in 2011. And now USB is fighting back with the introduction of USB 3.5, which equals Thunderbolt’s standard 10Gbps transfer speeds.
ASMedia Technology has started developing 10Gbps (1250 MB/s) USB 3.5 host and device controller chips with availability scheduled for 2014, according to company president Chewei Lin. With transmission speeds comparable to those of Thunderbolt, but available at more affordable prices, USB 3.5 controller chips will have more opportunities in the market, especially for SSD applications, Lin stated.
One of the reasons USB has remained so popular is its backwards compatibility. That will remain the case for USB 3.5, so manufacturers of devices that can take advantage of the faster transfer speeds, e.g. external hard drives, will surely embrace it quickly while retaining USB 3.0 compatibility.