USB 3.0 coming (not) soon to a motherboard near you

In hardware, it’s all about speed — getting things done faster allows for more things to get done in less time. The quicker you can get data from point A to point B, the better.

However, pushing groovy, high-speed technology to market often isn’t done so quickly. That’s why, even though Intel on Tuesday announced it’s working on the next version of the Universal Serial Bus technology, you probably won’t find it available for purchase until 2-3 years from now.

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But it may be worth the wait. USB 3.0, according to this news release, will offer speeds of up to 10 times that of USB 2.0. Since 2.0 maxes out at 480 Mbps, that means 3.0 would have a throughput of about 4.8 gigabits a second. Yowza!

It will do this by incorporating fiber-optics alongside the traditional copper wiring used in USB 2.0. The new spec will be backwards compatible, so your existing devices should still work with USB 3.0.

CNet’s Crave blogger Stephen Shankland talked to Pat Gelsinger, the general manager for the Digital Enterprise Group at Intel, and found that USB 3.0 will be released early next year, but won’t show up on store shelves anytime soon:

In an interview after the speech, Gelsinger said there’s typically a one- to two-year lag between the release of the specification and the availability of the technology, so USB 3.0 products should likely arrive in 2009 or 2010. A prototype shown at the speech is working now, and USB 3.0 will have optical and copper connections “from day one,” he added.

The devices that will benefit most from this speed boost — any kind of data storage or media playback. Think about hyperfast external hard and flash drives, as well as next-generation optical disks, including HD-DVD and Blu-ray.