USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt

It’s been declared the top PC innovation of all time, and for good reason. You use USB every day to copy files, print information, and charge devices.

If your PC is less than five years old, chances are you’re using USB 2 (also known as USB High-Speed). It works well for moving a few of documents or a music file, but if you move large files or a lot of files, you’ve undoubtedly yearned for a faster option. USB 3.0 (also known as USB Super-Speed) came on the scene in January 2010. This new standard significantly reduces the time required to move information. Thunderbolt, developed by Intel and brought to market by Apple in early 2011, is just starting to appear in Windows PCs and offers improvements over existing USB technologies.

USB 2.0

(USB Hi-Speed)

USB 3.0

(USB Super-Speed)


(code-name Light Peak)


Widespread adoption

Compatible with USB 2.0

Widespread adoption

2x faster data transfer

10% faster device charging

Ability to carry both HD audio & video signals

Ability to carry signal on longer cables without signal  loss

Transfer Speed

480  megabits per second

5,000  megabits per second

10x  faster than USB 2.0

USB  3.0 devices and ports must be used together to realize its speed potential

10,000  megabits per second

20x  faster than USB 2.0 and 2x as fast as USB 3.0

Thunderbolt  device but must be used with Thunderbolt port to realize its speed potential

Charging Devices

Provides 100mA

Provides 900mA

Provides 1000mA

Typical Cell Phone Charge

5  hours

35  minutes

30  minutes

Directional Transfer

Unidirectional: data moves one direction at a time like  an alternating single lane bridge

Bidirectional: data moves both ways at once, like  a two-lane bridge

Comments (2)

  1. Kenny Abdiel says:

    Hi Ed, very valid your comment.

    but this is resumed in one word that has been in our lives for long time : "Evolution"

    We will adopt any format, port, device or gadget that saves us seconds.

    It is just a matter of time to see the market flooded with this new tech.

  2. Ed says:

    So when are keyboards and mice coming out that are Thunderbolt or USB3 compatible? 🙂

    Seriously, except for transfering files, printing a huge job or scanning a big job, Thunderbolt and [to the lesser extent] USB3 won't change my life. I have 2 USB3 ports built into my mobo [one of the first mobos to have them] and with the exception of my USB3 flash drive, they aren't used.

    MOst sores will continue to sell USB2 flash drives and USB2 portable drives even though t5hey are slower than USB3. On top of that manufacturers haven't release many computers with USB3 ports.

    Thunderbolt is a different story. Do we really need another port type? Serial, parallel, game, USB1.1, USB2, USB3, VGA, DVI, HDMI, mini-HDMI, IR, eSATA, Firewire, displayort, ….

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