Can you say "Speed War?" The USB vs Thunderbolt speed war escalates as the latest USB standard has been upped to version 3.1. It is unofficially known at Superspeed+ and doubles the data bandwidth for USB devices to 10Gbps (gigabits per second).
Thunderbolt, the competing technology used for data transfer on Apple machines, already has comparable 10Gbps bandwidth capability. Released back in 2011 with the MacBook Pro, Thunderbolt uses a Mini DisplayPort connector, different from the standard USB waferish style of connector that PC compatible machines have used since USB's inception.
It will be some time before we see Superspeed+ hit the stores however. Two things need to take place first. Intel, AMD, and other chipset manufacturers will have to produce support chips to accomodate the new technology. Second, manufacturers of products that use USB will have to revise their products to accomodate the new standard. 3.1 will be fully backwards-compatible with devices using the older USB 3.0 technology, so it will not be a problem with PCs using the superspeed+ with devices built for 3.0; they will simply run in accordance with the 3.0 standard speed.
It will be late 2014 before we see Superspeed+ on machines. And it most likely will be early 2015 before we see it being offered on a large-scale with a plentiful supply of vendors supporting it. It is exciting to see it here. This speed war does have a beneficiary; the consumer. Who says a war has to be nasty?
To get more information about the Thunderbolt vs. USB speed war, you can check it out here.