Kudos and high-fives go out to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group today for announcing the completion of the USB 3.1 specification, which adds enhancements to enable SuperSpeed USB to operate at up 10 Gbps. The added throughput compared to regular USB 3.0 is made possible via more efficient data encoding, allowing the USB 3.1 spec to reach speeds twice as high over enhanced, fully backward compatible USB connectors and cables.
"The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps," said Brad Saunders (PDF), USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. "The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development."
Compared to Thunderbolt, Intel's high-speed data interface is still faster, offering speeds of 10 Gbps per channel for a total of 20 Gbps. Thunderbolt can also take advantage of daisy chaining, something USB can't do. However, USB is a much more widely adopted standard, giving it a significant edge in compatibility.