The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced at the 2013 CES that they’re doubling the data-transfer speeds of USB 3.0 from the current 5 gigabits per second rate to 10Gbps. Such an increase would put the Thunderbolt interface, most commonly seen on Apple products, at risk of being forgotten. However, the faster speeds will require new controller hardware so current generation devices won’t be able to make use of it. The specification stage should be done in mid-2013, though products released with the improved USB 3.0 will arrive in late 2014. As it is with USB, they’ll still be using the same connectors so existing devices should be able to plug into the high-speed ports.
The group consists of Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments. Though many are powerful tech giants, to fully influence the entire industry to accept a new standard will take time. USB 3.0 had been introduced back in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2012 that many embraced the new standard.
New SuperSpeed USB 3.0 cables should be in the pipeline as well, current USB 3.0 cables might not fully utilize the 10Gbps transfer speeds because they aren’t certified to operate at the 10Gbps rate, though there may be some that will work. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has also reported that they’ll be upgrading the cable’s ability to carry electrical current, meaning next-generation mobile devices could charge faster.
Though the Thunderbolt interface hasn’t been totally forgotten as Intel plans to release faster versions which could give it a superior edge. But with Thunderbolt practically nonexistent on current devices, other than Apple products, and expensive cables, the Thunderbolt remains a high-end niche product.