Currently, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt can keep up with the consumer-grade solid-state drives (SSDs). However, some current enterprise-class SSDs have read/write speeds approaching 6.5GB/s. In the future, consumer SSDs will follow suit, so a speed increase for peripheral connections like Thunderbolt and USB is necessary, according to Gregg Potter, an analyst with Multimedia Research Group.
The increased bandwidth will bode well for Macs as they begin to support 4K displays, which have a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels -- four times today's standard high-definition resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Thunderbolt ports are also available in a few PCs from Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Dell.
"As manufacturers begin to look at 4K video for laptops and desktop computers, a USB DisplayLink or Thunderbolt port becomes an option," Potter said.
An uncompressed 4K video runs at roughly 7.6Gbps, so a speed increase -- at least for USB -- is needed there. With the new USB power delivery standard supporting up to 100W, USB docking stations for laptops will need the increased bandwidth to support both video and data simultaneously, particularly when using multiple monitors and peripherals.
The new SuperSpeed 3.0 specification will increase power to 100 watts and offer bidirectional data and audio/visual transfer, meaning a laptop or monitor with a USB hub could power many other devices, including an HDTV.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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