New high-speed I/O interface debuts at CES

SATA storage trying to reclaim popularity from USB 3.0 with faster speed, wireless support

The war is over and USB has won ... or has it? At CES this week a new wireless SATA interface will try to dethrone SuperSpeed USB by offering speeds of up to 6Gbps vs. USB 3.0's max of 5Gbps.

CES 2011 preview: Gadgets galore

USB has become the I/O method of choice for most users, thanks to the many creative ways it has been adapted (and it has become a terrifying security risk for network managers thanks to the creative way it has been used in threats like the Stuxnet worm). At CES the USB-IF organization will demo an incredibly large number of new manufacturers who have rolled out SuperSpeed USB applications and devices since the specification was launched about a year ago at the 2010 CES. SuperSpeed USB (also known as USB 3.0) offers transfer rates of 5Gbps -- up to 10 times faster than the previous spec, known as High-Speed USB, or USB 2.0, but with backward compatibility with older devices. (See also: USB 3.0: Five things you need to know.)

A year later (and maybe too late), SATA-IO, the international organization that owns and manages Serial ATA specifications, is ready to show off its SATA Universal Storage Module (USM) specification for portable storage applications, claiming support for transfer speeds up to 6GBps, that "gracefully degrades" speeds to support Gen 1(1.5GBps) or Gen 2 (3GBps) drives, too, according to the organization.

The USM specification is expected to be completed later this year and is particularly geared toward consumer storage applications, it seems. The CES demo this week will show off a television, notebook computer, DVR and docking station sharing content via a single USM module, with no extra cables or powered required. A related standard, to define the size requirements for USM devices and slots, is being developed by the Small Form Factor Committee (SFF) and should also be available this year.

Bar chart of the USB market

In the meantime, USB-IF is fully prepared to show its dominance at CES this year, with 20 companies demonstrating new USB 3.0 devices, including one "real-time capturing of 1080p content at 60 frames per second (FPS) using a Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle and an ASUS laptop. The ASUS motherboard includes SuperSpeed USB functionality enabled by the Fresco Logic FL1000 host controller. The captured content will be subsequently written onto a LaCie 2big USB 3.0 storage drive in real-time" promoters say.

As for storage, USB 3.0 has that covered, too. For instance on Tuesday, Samsung Electronics America launched three new lines of consumer external hard disk drives, including two new portable drives with up to 1 TB of capacity, and a new desktop drive using 3.0 all claiming 5Gbps speed. The new drives support 256-bit full disk encryption, too.

USB-IF expects that 2011 will be a turning point for the number of devices that ship that support the 3.0 spec, too.

Follow Julie Bort on Twitter @ Julie188

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