Apple eyes USB 3.0 for next-gen Macs

Apple is reportedly considering the independent implementation of USB 3.0 alongside Intel’s Thunderbolt transfer protocol in next-gen Macs.

According to VR-Zone, Cupertino is “still looking” at SuperSpeed for future products and is likely to support the standard before Intel integrates native USB 3.0 support into its chipsets.

“Apple has been looking into USB 3.0 host controllers, especially as the price has finally reached an affordable level,” wrote LG Nilsson of VR-Zone.

“A USB 3.0 host controller is priced at somewhere between $2-3 in large quantities today which should be compared to $10-15 for Intel’s Thunderbolt chip.”

Meanwhile, AppleInsider’s Josh Ong notes that a recently granted patent application indicates Cupertino has already considered USB 3.0 support for its dock connector. 

The invention details a smaller 30-pin dock connector that could provide support for “one or more new high-speed communication standards,” such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort.

For its part, Intel continues to reiterate its commitment to both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, promising to release chips supporting both standards at some point in 2012.

USB 3 offers speeds of up to 5Gbps, while Thunderbolt boasts bi-directional channels with transfer speeds of 10Gbps each – twice as fast as USB 3.0.