We've been hearing about it for years, and now it's finally happening: There's a new version of USB on the way, and it's going to be ten times faster than its predecessor. Launching next Monday is USB 3.0, and the good news is that it's backward-compatible with our old friend, USB 2.0. You can see the two new plugs above, with the one on top the standard USB 3.0 plug that will fit in current USB sockets, and the smaller one pictured underneath destined for portable devices such as cell phones and music players.
You can plug these cables into old USB devices, but of course, you won't get that blazing speed unless that device's innards have the new USB 3.0 hardware inside. Expect computers and other geegaws to be equipped with this speedy new system before too long. Besides that faster speed, the new protocol will feature better power management, and optical cabling inside, too. Neat.
How much faster will this new system, called "SuperSpeed," go? If you were transferring a 25GB HD movie from one place to another with USB 1.0, it takes 9.3 hours. With USB 2.0, just under 14 minutes. With USB 3.0? 70 seconds. Quite an improvement.