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USB 2.0 has been with us since April of 2000, giving us 10 years of USB goodness and running at 480Mb/s (35MB/s). You can get almost anything USB now-a-days, including external tape decks and turntables. Hard to believe there are over 161 million USB devices out there as of March 2009. Many people have been happy with USB 2.0. On January 5th, 2010, USB 3.0 was released with an astounding 5Gb/s theoretical throughput! After protocol overhead, 400MB/s should be easily achieved…that’s over 10 times faster! Lets go over the changes to the new 3.0 spec.
- Higher transfer rates.
- Increased maximum bus power to 900 Ma, from 500Ma.
- Full duplex data transfers (read and write simultaneously)
- New cables for high speed transfers, however backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices.
- SUPERSPEED USB has a 5 Gbps signaling rate, offering 10x performance increase over Hi-Speed USB.
The NEC (D720200F1) host controller is the magic to this card, allowing USB 3.0 to achieve 5Gb/s speeds.
Ok, enough with the technical talk, lets see some benchmarks!
Ok, as you already know we are using the ASUS U3S6 4x PCI-e add-in card, along with the Bytecc Super Speed USB 3.0 T-200U3 external docking station.
As you can see, USB 3.0 is just as fast has having eSATA device. USB is much more popular than eSATA, and as time goes on, you’ll be seeing more USB 3.0 devices and controllers. Personally, I’m interested in larger USB flash drives carrying the 3.0 spec. Since it is now full duplex, we may be able to install on OS onto it, and since its 10 times faster, we may have ourselves an SSD alternative for a Multi-OS system. With a few 32gig USB 3.0 flash drives laying around, you can have Linux, W7 and or XP right at your finger tips. How cool would that be?
Since the impressive part is out of the way, lets take a closer look at the U3S6 controller.
What do you see that this card does NOT have? You are correct, no external power connector! Having a 4x PCIe has its advantages other than more throughput – more power as well! Plus since 1x PCIe has a limit of 250MB/s, having a 4x slot eliminates the bottle neck. However, having all 4 ports running could have some issues in terms of bandwidth. Which can not be proven at the writing of this review. I do not have SATA 3 SSD’s drives to test.
As you can see that these ports are backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1.
We can see there is a huge advantage having USB 3.0. Its essentially eSATA but in USB form. Having the ability to achieve SATAII speeds via USB is just amazing. I was extremely impressed with the 150gig Vraptor achieving 122MB/s read! We can now install an OS on an external USB drive, and probably setup RAID as well. Full duplex is a huge plus for USB3.0.
A few people might not want to lose a 16x graphics slot for this device, since it will kill the chance of ever going SLI or Crossfire, and some may argue that 1x solution cards are fine for them because they’ll never hit the 250MB/s cap as mechanical drives do not come close to hitting this. However, the U3S6 has two SATA 6G ports as well, which probably would not work too well at 1x speeds. There is a ying and a yang to everything. Pro’s and cons. What do you want?
On the other hand, I love it and will be buying more of them since its not limited to the P55 chipset. ASUS is stating that it will be only compatible with their motherboards. This is clearly not the case. I’ve tested the U3S6 in the P965 and G31 boards, and both have worked flawlessly. So if you think you can’t get USB 3.0 on an older system, you’re mistaken! Most likely this is a ploy to try and force you in buying more ASUS products to use the U3S6 device. I love it, however you’ll lose a 16x slot to use it.