There's a fair amount of discussion lately about USB 3.1, SATA Express (SATA 3.2), and finally, the Thunderbolt 2.0 that's arriving soon in the Apple Mac Pro. So when I was asked by a family member about the speed differences, I figured it'd be easy to answer. I Googled around, but all I found were various wiki articles, with no good comparative chart. I also found it challenging to figure out what year each technology made it to market, on actual shipping products. So I created a list.
- 00.5 Gbps - 2000 - USB 2.0 "High speed"
- 01.5 Gbps - 2003 - SATA1 aka SATA I
- 03.0 Gbps - 2003 - SATA2 aka SATA II (many older eSATA and mSATA implementations)
- 05.0 Gbps - 2008 - USB 3.0 "SuperSpeed"
- 06.0 Gbps - 2008 - SATA3 aka SATA III (many newer eSATA and mSATA implementations)
- 10.0 Gbps - 2011 - Thunderbolt
- 10.0 Gbps - 2014 - USB 3.1 "SuperSpeed" or "SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps"
- 16.0 Gbps - 2014 - SATA3.2 aka "SATA Express"
- 20.0 Gbps - 2013 - Thunderbolt 2
This just didn't cut it for me. A graphical depiction would be more useful, so I created a colorful table comparing speeds over time.
Please comment below if you spot anything any issues, citing your sources. Also appreciated are suggestions to help improve legibility, or links to sites with similar charts. Thank you!
Gb to GB conversion
SATA Express PCIe Client Storage
Jan 06 2013
USB 3.1 Specification
Jul 26 2013
Sep 19 2013 Update
Excellent article that goes over real-world performance of Thunderbolt devices, revealing some significant limitations
Mar 10 2015 Update
This article and the infographic have not been modified significantly since publication, Aug 13, 2013. Only some spelling errors were fixed, and these updates below the original article.
Yesterday, the USB-C connector arrived with the Apple MacBook announcement, and those USB 3.1 speeds along with it. See also Apple and home labs - Because you know it's all about that USB-C, 'Bout that USB-C, no Lightning? by Paul Braren Mar 10 2015.
Apr 26 2015 Update
Formatting tweaks to article were made, to enhance legibility.
June 02 2015 Update
Note, USB 3.1 and the USB-C and Thunderbolt are joining forces in 2015.
- 40.0 Gbps - 2013 - Thunderbolt 2