It's not often that a computer interface stays relevant for an entire decade, but that is exactly what USB 2.0 has achieved since its release in April 2000. In the past few years, however, our media-dominated culture has seen incredible growth and growth, the file size has grown exponentially and the outdated user interface just can't keep up with a number of tasks.
Other interfaces have challenged USB 2.0 over the years, but none have managed to dethrone it. IEEE FireWire was developed by Apple in 1995 and revised several times, which ultimately makes it faster than USB 2.0. Outside of the high-end audio / video segment, FireWire has received little mainstream support. A similar fate is expected for eSATA, a very promising variant of the internal SATA connection introduced in 2004. The main reason these technologies never really caught on is because they are limited to storage requirements only, while USB is much broader.
It seems that the only true successor to USB 2.0 is a revision of itself aptly referred to as USB 3.0 and referred to as "SuperSpeed" – see our feature article USB 3.0: What You Need to Know. USB 3.0 supports theoretical transfer rates of up to 5 Gbit / s.
USB 3.0 was first introduced in consumer goods last January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's so new that no chipset manufacturer has implemented it in a southbridge chip yet. Instead, today's boards with USB 3.0 use an add-in controller to accomplish this.
Most current USB 3.0 devices are exclusively external hard drive enclosures. We're looking at that today in the form of StarTech's 3.5-inch SuperSpeed USB 3.0 hard drive enclosure. If your motherboard doesn't support USB 3.0, which it probably does, unless your computer is relatively new, StarTech also offers the 2-port PCI Express USB 3.0 card, which uses a replacement PCI Express slot.
A universal power supply unit with three different pin connections, a USB 3.0 cable, three self-adhesive foam pads and a user manual are included in the scope of delivery of the housing.
The universal power adapter is a nice feature that allows you to use the device when traveling in countries with different power outlets. The adapter tips snap into place and can be removed by pressing the release button. The cable length is a full 6 inches.
The USB 3.0 cable is different at both ends from the conventional connectors for USB 2.0 cables. The A-end looks the same on the outside, but has additional pins on the inside of the connector. The B-side looks completely different, with an additional smaller area on the top of the cable. The cable thickness is also increased to compensate for the additional bandwidth.