Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

USB 3.0 technology

  1. Oct 25, 2015 #1
    I just did a new computer build with a cheap (I mean inexpensive) motherboard, the ASUS M5A97:


    I noticed that it had 6 USB 2.0 ports and 2 USB 3.0 ports. So (naively) I thought, cool, I'll just plug my cheap 8 gig Cruzer thumb drive into the USB 3.0 port and get double the data transmission. Didn't work that way, unfortunately.

    So I did a little research and found that the thumb drive has to be rated for 3.0 also. Not only that, but not all 3.0 thumb drives are rated equally? Even with the 3.0 standard, read and write transmission rates are all over the map.

    Why is this? What is the limiting factor when it comes to flash drive technology? Ostensibly, a flash drive is just a bunch of transistors, there's no moving plates as in a standard HDD spinning around at 7K, 5K, or 10K rpms. SO what do they do to make the transmission rates faster?

    The fastest USB 3.0 drive I've found so far is the Sandisk Extreme. Read speed 245 MB/s and write speed 190 MB/s:


    I think the 32 gig version will work for me because I plug in the thumb drive to my Samsung 40 inch 3D TV in order to enjoy 3D cinema at home with my Roy Orbison black shutter glasses. To get good rendering, sometimes the 3D file exceeds the 8 gigs that my Cruzer can hold. In fact, some movies push 12 gigs.

    The read rate for the TV is not a problem, the Cruzer can handle that. However, I do want to get the most out of my cheap components. In order to do that it's nice to know where the bottlenecks are.

    It's not only on the side of the thumb drive itself, but also on the motherboard side. Thankfully, my cheap MB has a feature called USB 3.0 "Boost". Yes...BOOST!

    "USB 3.0 Boost

    Faster USB 3.0 Transmission with UASP

    New ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology supports USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP), the latest USB 3.0 standard. With USB 3.0 Boost technology, a USB device's transmission speed is significantly increased up to 170%, adding to an already impressive fast USB 3.0 transfer speed. ASUS software automatically accelerates data speeds for compatible USB 3.0 peripherals without the need for any user interaction."

    So is that all I need? I was on a forum where they recommended getting an aftermarket PCI-e one adapter card to get more speed out of your USB 3.0. But is that really necessary?


    My main question, though, is what do they do to tweak the components in order to get more juice out of a solid state flash drive or SSD?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2015 #2
    You will get 2.0 speeds with the USB plugged in the 3.0 USB speed port (provided the USB is 2.0).

    It is much like a wireless network, e.g. a wireless 802.11ac adapter in your laptop., being backward compatible with a wireless 802.11 b/g/n router -- but only able to get up to the wireless 802.11n speed.
  4. Oct 26, 2015 #3


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    A USB flash drive is more than just the memory, it also has an onboard controller and communications interface.
  5. Oct 26, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Thumb drives are basically memory (plus controller) and memory speeds are certainly not all the same. Slow memory chips are cheaper to fabricate than fast ones. I've had USB2 thumb drives that were fairly reasonable in speed for their day and at the same time ones that were slower than mud (and correspondingly cheaper).
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook