USB 3 products are gaining a little momentum. It’s becoming more and more common to see them on new computers, and prices on USB 3 hard drives and flash drives are starting to settle closer to older USB 2 gear. For example, a USB 3 Kingston Data Traveler Ultimate is already less than a dollar per GB, which is less than what I paid for a “nice” USB 2 flash drive last year.
Performance is already much better than older USB 2 drives, but now it looks like it could be getting even better. Silicon Motion is announcing a new USB 3 controller, the chip which live in your computer to control USB devices plugged into your computer, which could significantly improve I/O.
Right now, on my older workstation I can get read speeds of around 80MBps on my USB3 port. Silicon Motion claims their new controller can boost single channel performance of USB 3 flash drives to 160MBps. Write speeds could almost double as well. This means that those of you who have to move tons of files around manually (photos, videos, audio), these transfers should get a lot faster. Silicon Motion also details the idea that you could now install an operating system and software to USB stick, and use that as a boot drive. Walk up to a computer, plug in your drive, and boot up your own operating system and programs.
Best of all, improvements to the manufacturing should reduce power consumption and make the controller less expensive to produce.