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USB 3.0 thumb drives will have to wait

The USB 3.0 specification has been out for a while already, and manufacturers of USB devices are slowly moving to the new standard, but thumb drives seem to be left out of this race. And why is this so?

Read on for more information.

If you would walk down any shop that sells computer hardware or accessories, chances are that hardware and devices which can take advantage of the new USB 3.0 standard are already available, with the exception of 1 particular USB-powered device: thumbdrives.

And according to Lars-Göran Nilsson from SemiAccurate, the answer can be attributed to the USB 3.0-compatible memory controllers of the thumbdrives, which have a very high tendency to overheat when packed into the small physical constraints of such devices.

While workarounds currently exist to mitigate the overheating problems, Nilsson points out that they are far from ideal: one method consists of running an additional memory controller alongside the current controller but at reduced clock speeds, resulting in decreased reliability; the other solution involves replacing the plastic casing of the thumb drive with a metal one instead, using it as “a heatsink for the memory controller by interfacing the two via a layer of thermal materials”, which will undoubtedly push up costs.

Either way, either of these workarounds are not suitable as long-term solutions: while we could really do with the better data transfer speed of USB 3.0 devices, the backwards-compatibility feature of the USB 3.0 specification means that there should be a substantial transition period for consumers to make the switch. Which should translate to (hopefully) sufficient time for manufacturers to spend more time working out a proper solution for the overheating memory controllers.

Source: SemiAccurate

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