With all of the rapidly-changing aspects of computer technology, it can be very hard to keep up. Indeed, for those who are casual computer users without real investment in the computer hardware industry, it was not so long ago that the USB port became the dominant interface port. Suddenly, when you upgraded your computer and wanted to use your favorite old keyboard or mouse, you discovered there were no ports in the back of your new computer for it! Like compact discs to records, the USB port has pretty much eliminated most specialized ports on computers. In the world of USB ports, USB 3.0 is slowly creeping up in popularity.
But, you might be wondering, just what is USB 3.0?
First, it is worth knowing that USB 3.0 utilizes the same USB jack and port that you have already come to recognize. You do not need to keep an eye out for any new USB port! The creation of the Universal Serial Bus was an attempt to unify many forms of similar electronic devices. The “Universal” quality of the USB is not something that is likely to be overhauled for quite some time, if ever. So, fear not, the standard 11.5 mm by 4.5 mm USB jack that everyone recognizes now is here to stay, even with USB 3.0.
Second, you should know that devices that are wired for USB 3.0 are backward compatible. What that means is that if you have a USB 2.0 flash drive, for example, if you plug that into a USB 3.0 device, the device will read your drive. USB 3.0 has been on the market since November 2008, so it is likely you have encountered a device without knowing it that uses USB 3.0. The reason you could easily mistake a USB 3.0 device for a more common USB 2.0 device is that the jacks and ports are identical and the USB 3.0 device will read and run information coming from a USB 2.0 device!
On the hardware end, USB 3.0 is an upgrade to the wiring of new devices. Possibly the reason you haven’t heard much about USB 3.0 is because it is not sexy or interesting to try to explain. Inside a USB 3.0 device, eight wires connect to the four flat leads on the USB port, instead of the four wires connected to them in USB 2.0 devices. What does this change in internal configuration actually do? It’s simple; by having more paths to travel, information may be transferred faster using USB 3.0 than with USB 2.0. If you think of the USB connections as a literal highway, there are twice as many “roads” with USB 3.0, so your data (cars in this metaphor) has more choices on which path to take to get to its destination.
So, when you need faster transfer speeds for your data, consider USB 3.0 devices as you look to upgrade!
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