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USB to Become Quicker, Smaller and Flippable

The bulky, one-way plug is on its way out.

The bulky, one-way plug is on its way out.

This week, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that for the new version of USB, called USB 3.1, it  will have a new connector that is about the size of a Micro USB connector that plugs into most smartphones and other portable gadgets these days. Furthermore, this new connector will be flappable: It can be turned either way and still connect.

Beyond the new connector type, the specifications for USB 3.1 include a 10-Gb-per-second data speed, twice that of USB 3. It will also be upgraded for greater power transfer, allowing more energy-hungry gadgets to run via USB without a power plug. 

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The new USB 3.1 specification comes at a time when gadgets are becoming more powerful. Higher data speeds help with larger HD videos and photos, increased power transfer helps with charging mobile gadgets, and having the connector be flippable helps with user frustration. 

USB 3.1 also designed to measure up to competitors. Apple's Lightning connector has been flippable since its release in September 2012 with the iPhone 5. Intel's Thunderbolt connection runs at 10 Gbps and the upcoming Thunderbolt 2 will support up to 20 Gbps, necessary for streaming 4K video to monitors, according to Intel. Devices supporting Thunderbolt 2 have just started to be released, with the first ones launched in October. 

The specifications of the USB 3.1 are expected to be finalized by Summer 2014.

Source: USB.org via Slashgear.

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  • DelightfulDucklings
    You can put it in either way?!?!? IT'S A WHOLE NEW WORLD!!!!!
    Reply
  • hokkdawg
    So, it's now a Lightning connector? :P
    Reply
  • burnley14
    Hopefully this will replace the micro USB standard altogether. It always nice to be able to plug something in when it's dark and not have to see which side is up :)
    Reply
  • jakeb1911
    "Furthermore, this new connector will be flappable" ...OK :-D
    Reply
  • itsnotmeitsyou
    10Gbps? Who needs that? That is retarded! USB-3.0 is all we'll ever need for like 5 years... screw you and your thunderbolll...

    oh wait, its called USB? even though its going to be a totally proprietary plug that doesn't exist on anything? whatever, it says USB so you have my vote. I NEED THIS YESTERDAY.
    Reply
  • okibrian
    "that is about the size of a Micro USB connector that plugs into most smartphones and other portable gadgets these days. Furthermore, this new connector will be flappable: It can be turned either way and still connect."

    Wow, what a great idea! Now where have I seen something like that before.

    "USB 3.1 also designed to measure up to competitors. Apple's Lightning connector has been flippable since its release in September 2012"

    Oh yeah, that's right.
    Reply
  • hotroderx
    Being able to flip it is pretty nice but do we really need a new USB standard? Maybe we should work on optimizing the current standard instead. I am all for innovation but this just seems like a move to sell new motherboards/computers... Kinda like PCI Express 3.0 which at least is backwards compatible with current PCI Express 2.0 card's.
    Reply
  • Harry Callahan
    The picture is seriously misleading. The new connector is for the device end of the cable, the end that plugs into your smartphone. It won't replace the computer end of the cable, that plugs into your computer. Unfortunately, the computer end of the cable is the part which is displayed in the picture.
    Reply
  • knowom
    I don't mind the innovation, but I'm not at all keen on the entirely new USB connector standard. I thought when USB was designed part of the goal was to be backward compatible this sounds like a new standard entirely.

    To make matters worse this new connector doesn't even sound compatible with the micro usb standard so it'll be a new connection plug entirely. My guess is people will intentionally hang on to USB 3.0 for years to come until they are finally forced to switch out of lack of other options.

    It's not as if USB 3.0 isn't fast enough if you really need faster throughput for storage you'd probably just use sata or e-sata anyway.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    They shouldn't change the connector for this minor bump. Save it for a major update. Oh well... I hope this new connector is somewhat future proof, or they'll just change it again shortly and we'll be back to "every device has a different connector". :-/
    Reply