Microsoft describes USB 3.0 delays

Software maker expresses caution about USB 3.0--which is expected to offer 10 times the performance of USB 2.0--because finalization has taken so long.

LOS ANGELES--At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here, Microsoft talked about the future of USB 3.0 and how delays have hampered rollout of the specification.

Microsoft's talk Thursday was predicated on the expected finalization of the specification later this month. On Wednesday, Jeff Ravencraft of Intel said that he expects the final specification to be announced in San Jose, Calif., on November 17. Ravencraft is also the chairman and president of the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) industry trade association.

Microsoft is wrestling with when and how to implement USB 3.0
Microsoft is wrestling with when and how to implement USB 3.0 Brooke Crothers

Microsoft expressed caution about USB 3.0--which is expected to offer 10 times the performance of USB 2.0--because finalization has taken so long. "Because the current USB 3.0 spec is currently not signed off, we're challenged and we won't have support for USB 3.0 in Windows 7 at RTM (release to manufacturing)," Lars Giusti of Microsoft said in a WinHEC session here titled "USB Technology Update and Windows Strategy."

"Our goal is to have the USB 3.0 specs signed off by the promoter's group sometime later this month. Hopefully," he said.

Delays have held USB 3.0 back, Giusti said. "That makes it challenging for several reasons. Since the spec isn't signed off we don't see any USB 3.0 hardware in the market or even prototypes available yet. With those two disadvantages we cannot develop, create, and design support yet for USB 3.0. But we are staffing up. We are making plans," he said.

He continued. "If you look at the USB 3.0 industry timelines and checkpoints, it really has been a very long, difficult and challenging three-year effort."

Giusti then made some predictions about the adoption of USB 3.0. "In 2009, the signed-off spec will be handed over to the implementers and those adopters that plan to productize USB 3.0," he said. "Our prediction tells us that in 2010 finally we'll see broad-scale product deployment of host controllers, devices, and systems that are USB 3.0 and SuperSpeed capable."

Currently, Microsoft is trying to figure out which operating systems will be USB 3.0-capable. "The Microsoft USB core team is currently evaluating which operating systems we should support USB 3.0 on. It's a difficult decision and a difficult choice 'cause there's all these moving parts," he said.

"Our early indications tell us that most partners think that we should support USB 3.0 on at least Windows Vista."

Performance comparison: transfer of 25GB HD movie (Source: Microsoft/WinHEC 2008):

  • USB 1.0: 9.3 hours
  • USB 2.0: 13.9 minutes
  • USB 3.0: 70 seconds

Click here for more news on WinHEC and Windows 7.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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