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10/14/2010
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USRobotics Launches USB 3.0 Products

The hub, adapters and cables take advantage of USB 3.0's 10x speed advantage over USB 2.0.

USRobotics USR8401 2-Port USB 3.0 ExpressCard
(click image for larger view)
USRobotics USR8401 2-Port USB 3.0 ExpressCard
Tom Henderson, managing director of testing laboratory ExtremeLabs.com, said, "USB 3.0 literally screams compared to USB 2.0 or Firewire 800 or Firewire 400. USB 3.0 will often be faster than one or both of the connected devices. For example, it's faster than SATA II, and it's potentially faster than gigabit Ethernet. Interfaces like HPPI or InfiniBand might be faster, but they're much more expensive, and won't be available for many of the devices that USB 3.0 will be."

A growing number of drives and other peripherals with USB 3.0 ports are becoming available. For example, Seagate recently introduced its 1.5TB FreeAgent Go Flex Portable Hard Disk Drive. And Kingston introduced USB 3.0 flash drives in September -- its 16GB, 32GB and 64G Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 Flash drives, providing speeds of 80MB/sec read and 60MB/sec write, according to Kingston, versus roughly 30MB/sec for USB 2.0.

According to USRobotics, the hub and both adapters offer 900mA powered ports, but, the company noted, how much power depends on the power source. The PCI adapter requires ATX connector for 900mA. The ExpressCard provides 800mA using the USB port cable that is included with adapter; to provide 900mA requires using an add-on DC power. To get the power needed to provide 900mA, the hub uses a DC power adapter.

Also, noted USRobotics, 900mA can only be provided to USB 3.0 devices. USB 2.0 devices are not programmed for or capable of asking for 900mA.

In terms of system requirements, according to USRobotics, to use the PCIe adapter requires a PCIe slot, plus an ATX connector for the extra power; the ExpressCard requires an ExpressCard slot, and a USB port for the power adapter; the hub requires an outlet for the DC adapter.

All products are backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1, so they will work with pre-3.0 USB devices, transferring data at the maximum rate for each port.

According to USRobotics, drivers for all products are available for XP and higher versions of Windows. The hub will work with Mac and Linux systems, but only at 2.0 speeds, and drivers do not currently exist for either of the adapters.

"I'm personally excited about USB 3.0," stated Oxford. "As an amateur photographer and video user who does a lot of file download and transfer, it means I can be at work editing my files 10 to 15 minutes sooner on the average session."

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