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Apple's Jobs: USB 3.0 isn't ready yet, Intel partly to blame

updated 09:00 pm EDT, Fri October 29, 2010

Apple CEO says USB 3 not ready to go

Apple chief Steve Jobs told inquisitive fan Tom Kruk that USB 3.0 wasn't ready for Macs at the present time. When asked why it wasn't a feature, Jobs answered that "we don't see USB 3 taking off at this time." He went on to tell the 9to5Mac reader that technical support had a large part to play as Intel wasn't putting its weight behind the technology. There's "no support from Intel," he said.

The technology has had relatively timid adoption so far. A substantial number of major PC manufacturers do support USB 3.0, but usually only on high-end models and in many cases only with one or two ports using the faster speeds. Despite having pioneered USB, Intel hasn't produced a chipset of its own capable of supporting USB 3.0 and has left most using third-party controller chips from NEC and others that won't necessarily work in all configurations.

USB 3.0 has also had relatively limited usefulness, as it so far works best for external SSDs, RAID-striped hard drives and other storage that would oversaturate USB 2. Apple is also unique in the industry for having wide support of FireWire 800, which while slower than USB 3.0 is much faster than USB 2.0.

Intel is commonly thought to be adding USB 3.0 chipsets in 2011 and may be saving the support for Sandy Bridge, its new desktop and mobile processor architecture due to show in January.

by MacNN Staff



  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What Jobs meant to say...

    "And besides, we're about to release Light Peak that will make USB-3 as obsolete as an RS-232 port."

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Did Apple ever say why it passed up on

    eSata? Was there something that Steve Jobs didn't like about it? Possibly not wanting too many different types of ports on a computer? Light Peak seems like it would be terrific, but will it be something that only Apple will use? As long as I can get drive cases that support it then I'll just upgrade as I've been doing all these many years.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. dada33

    Joined: Dec 1969




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  1. rtamesis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: dada33

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  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Think LightPeak!

    My theory is that Apple will entirely bypass USB and will wait until LightPeak is ready to go. USB2 is good enough for low bandwidth input devices.

    If LightPeak is all that is promised, it will obliterate every other interface... USB, eSATA, FireWire.

  1. samirsshah

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Intel's heavy hand

    does not even spare Apple

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Light Peak or Power over Ethernet?

    I think Jobs is waiting for the dust to settle. USB3 is going to be facing competition from Light Peak and PoE. Apple seems to hate putting big, expensive, seldom-used connectors on their Macs, especially MacBook lines. If they can satisfy most of their users with one single universal high speed connector, they'll do it. The trick is picking the right one. (And of course Apple is pretty big into wireless these days too.)

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple's future is their own ARM variants

    @ samirsshah - "Intel's heavy hand does not even spare Apple"

    Maybe that's the real long-term reason why Apple created their own A4 variant of the ARM reference design. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple took things all the way and made a multi-core ARM SoC that they could eventually fit into a MacBook Air. Running a special build of Mac OS X (or an iOS + Mac OS hybrid in the post-Lion timeframe...)

  1. chas_m



    Argh, once again ...

    ... Jobs is right.

    USB3 has been curiously undersupported by the PC community and Intel itself since it finally debuted, a mere six years behind schedule.

    Intel's hesitance may be understandable, since they clearly have Light Peak up their sleeve and may want to keep their powder dry for that if it's going to show up in a year or two.

    The PC world's reluctance is more confusing, since they mindlessly head towards anything that promises faster even if its mostly hype (ie USB2) -- but perhaps there's a simple reason there too -- there just isn't that much stuff that *needs* speeds any higher than USB2 (other than RAID and stuff like that of course). The Windows crowd seem "sated" with eSATA, and given it's speed I don't blame them.

  1. martinX

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Forget light peak

    To all the naysayers, USB isn't "hype", it is real. Cal Digit has produced a USB drive capable of ~145 MB/s and have even gone so far as to package a PCI card and Mac USB 3 driver. The same drive also has a FW800 port which is capable of ~85 MB/s, which is a speed unheard of for this interface so they have done some marvellous work there too. This is from a serious company that makes seriously good Mac products.

    LaCie has also just released a RAID 0 box capable of similarly high speeds. The problem does lie with Intel, it seems, but Apple should be pushing and pushing hard to get USB3 into our hands. At the very least, it will make inexpensive external storage much more accessible for video editing.

    Forget Light Peak until it appears - this stuff is available right now.

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