Hexus heard at the IDF in Shanghai last week that USB 3.0 is on track for deployment in Q2 2009. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 will feature data transfer speeds of up to 5Gbit/s (640MB/s) - which is a lot more than HDDs can handle.
Ravencraft commented that SuperSpeed USB is architected for a five-year lifespan, where, in the same timeframe, flash-based drives will comfortably surpass magnetic drives' transfer speeds. SuperSpeed USB, then, will primarily be best-leveraged with flash drives that can comfortably sustain transfers over 50MB/s.
Thinking about power, incumbent USB 2.0 continuously polls the host, evaluating whether there's traffic, wasting energy, he noted. SuperSpeed, however, is interrupt-driven, meaning that it only talks to the host when ready to transfer, reducing the power profile. This protocol won't change as SuperSpeed scales higher in speed.
Further, SuperSpeed uses two differential pairs to scale to 5Gbit's transfer speed, and that's available on cables up to three metres long. Initial SuperSpeed cables will feature both optical-fibre and copper wires at launch, but we suspect that due to keeping costs down, copper-based wires will be more widely used.