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USB 3.0 is here. And for service organizations trying to optimize technicians' time spent in the field, the "SuperSpeed" of the new spec might be just the thing to get them in and out quickly. USB 3.0, now standard equipment on most motherboards and high-end laptops, moves data at up to 5 Gbps, making quick jobs of backups, restores, migrations, system updates, installations, formatting of drives and other on-site data movements.
Helping to keep back-room staff ahead of the curve is Tripp Lite, which earlier this month began shipping a trio of must-have devices aimed at making connections at the highest possible speed. Most immediately useful gadget to us in the CRN Test Center was the U338 USB SuperSpeed to SATA Adapter, a cable-like device that attaches any size SATA I, II or III drive to a USB 3.0 (or earlier) port.
Though Tripp Lite says it officially supports only Windows, the U339 also worked with our MacBook, which mounted an SSD drive via the adapter cable and did not require any drivers or additional connections. For USB ports that don't provide enough power, Tripp Lite includes an AC/DC power adapter. Its small cannon plug is inserted into the large end of the cable to provide power for the drive.
We tested the adapter's performance by connecting it on one end to an Intel SATA II (3 Gbps) SSD drive and on the other end to a USB 2.0 port. This also required us to install no drivers. Maximum transfer rate, measured with IOmeter for Windows, was 8.22 MBps. Then we connected the same drive to a USB 3.0 port and watched it perform more than four times faster, at 36.44 MBps. The U339 lists for $69, and sells on the street for around $35.